CPM Software and Implementation Buyer’s Guide: Expectation vs. Reality

Matthew Dziak

While departments like sales, marketing and operations have a longstanding use of automation and tools to facilitate daily tasks, finance has lagged. It’s no fault of their own, as finance functions have owned their processes and honed their wizardry of Excel to get by. 

In an evolving digital landscape, just getting by isn’t enough. For finance to thrive as a business partner, one who is a strategic internal advisor across business units, companies turn to Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software.

As you evaluate and vet CPM software, consider the implications of implementation as much as the tool itself. Oftentimes, we are left with the impression that the answer to our problems lies in the software's capabilities. 

The reality is how you approach the implementation of the system, and your ongoing utilization of it separates a realized return on investment versus shelfware that becomes a sunk cost. 

CPM Software Implementation Expectations vs. Reality

Typically, once you decide on a CPM or FP&A software vendor (which we won't go into the nuances of in this post), the implementation process is soon to follow. However, since the implementation is essential to your team’s success using the technology and varies widely across tools, it’s crucial to include the implementation process in your evaluation. The last thing you want to do is decide on a certain tool only to realize the implementation doesn’t live up to what you were expected to purchase. 

Some companies will offer in-house implementers, while others source partners to implement tools. Each option has its pros and cons, but the main limiting factor of both is primarily technical experts, not finance, to manage implementation. They understand the technology inside and out, but they lack a fundamental understanding of the detailed needs of finance and accounting end users.

The nuances that finance encounters daily can only be incorporated by someone who’s been in a senior finance role and lived through those pains. Software vendors may have a few internal team members who were finance analysts and contributing roles in FP&A - though those are a far cry from the experience of seasoned CFOs who led companies at different stages.

This lack of finance expertise leads many use cases to be overlooked, resulting in subpar functionality that falls short of expectations. Technically focused implementers are willing to add modules you want, but the oversight of finance’s needs results in additional spend and time lost waiting for the desired features.   

Best CPM Software Implementation Comparison | FutureView Systems

Dynamic Integrations and the Flow of Data

At the core of any FP&A or CPM software are direct integrations connecting your financial and operational systems. The preservation of consistent metrics is necessary to ensure your entire organization is working from the same set of metrics and not wasting time reconciling different numbers from each business unit. The last thing you want is a scenario where you spend precious meeting time comparing the metrics sales are going off of and the actuals finance is working from. 

A proper implementation should establish a centralized single source of truth that matches across systems and is accessible to the necessary stakeholders. For finance, this means having its metrics, reports and dashboards in a CPM system, without toggling between accounting software, ERPs and CRMs to verify bookings and transactions. 

Integrations are meant to pull data from one source and transfer it to another system, where it will be utilized. Accounting and finance integrations are pitched as a solution for your data manipulation woes, but they can only do so if the backend data structure is maintained.

If the CPM software integrations simply move your data from one point to another without transforming and loading the data properly, you’re left with inaccurate and unreconciled reports and metrics. Any integration to your general ledger and accounting system should be pulled at the transaction level and tied directly to your chart of accounts. 

Implementation Timeline

The length of time it takes to implement a new finance tool is oftentimes a concern for many. There are plenty of horror stories of CFOs who waited over six months to implement a new accounting system, and then another 3-4 months to implement a robust CPM software to satisfy FP&A, reporting and planning needs. 

It’s not an ideal scenario, waiting over a quarter to get up and running on your new and improved FP&A tools - and one that our team of finance executives lived through on many occasions and devised solutions, so you are not subject to the same burden. 

If you’re using Netsuite or Quickbooks Online as your general ledger and accounting software, FutureView can have you up and running in as little as 7-10 business days. That speed of implementation gives you the opportunity to work with our team to learn about the unique features that address your business needs and how you can be a power user in no time. 

Training and Dedicated Ongoing Support

Change Management

It’s ingrained in human nature to resist change, but the only way to improve any aspect of life is to challenge yourself to learn new things. For many finance teams, using Excel and familiar in-house tools is the norm to deliver reports, create models and devise an annual budget. 

According to Deloitte’s CFO Survey, 75% of finance leaders list change management for adopting new technologies by employees as the biggest challenge to successfully deploy digital solutions. This goes back to our initial discussion to avoid letting your new tool become shelfware that gets little use and unrealized returns. 

A clear indicator you require more robust tools is when multiple data sets from disparate grow too large to work efficiently in Excel, and you spend the majority of your time wrangling and staging data instead of analyzing it. 

CPM software is not a plug-and-play solution that can be turned on for full scale use the moment you commit to purchase. Although there is always a learning curve to learn any new technology, there are solutions to get you up to speed quickly. 

Most implementers are focused on the modules and technical connectivity of integrations; however, their business model is based on volume, so they are not committed to seeing that you and your team can utilize the system effectively. 

On the contrary, FutureView provides ample hours of training in all deals, so you and your team can work together with our experts to ensure you get the most out of our Platform and its functionality.

Ongoing Support

CPM Implementation specialists typically have a singular focus on the volume of clients, where they seek to implement a tool for you and move on to the next project waiting in the queue. The problem with this approach is it doesn’t have the client’s best interest in mind. The hope is you will be left with a usable tool and become a master of its array of features in no time. 

As your company evolves, so do your finance and operational needs. Additional reporting packages for bank lenders, new capital structure, expanding into new markets, and adding subsidiaries are just a few of the many evolutions of a growing company. 

We provide all clients with dedicated CFO-level support, someone who has ample executive finance experience and not only guide you through the Platform, but be a sounding board and consult with you on processes and initiatives within your finance function. 

There are no support tickets to submit, need to wait in queues for a response or barriers to contact an actual person. You have a direct line and communication channel with your dedicated finance solutions expert, available to support you in any capacity.

With FutureView and our white glove finance solutions, we help redefine those needs so we can proactively structure integrations, address your evolving needs, provide additional reporting automations, and modules while greatly enhancing your decision-making processes.