In my former life as a corporate FP&A manager, I participated in an annual tradition within our Finance group.  Every year, we’d conduct intensive off-site meetings where we reaffirmed the importance of allocating most of our Finance team’s resources toward forward-looking strategy, planning and decision support. The balance of our team would be spread across analysis, training and special projects.

We committed to this resource model because it made the most sense for pursuing strategic initiatives, generating growth and increasing profits.

After every off-site meeting, we’d head back to the office excited to implement our plan. And every year, we’d discover that achieving this optimal model for resource allocation would be all but impossible.

The reason was that only a few users understood how to make sense of ourlegacy EPM solution’s tangled web of dimensions, cubes and data flows. Due to the platform’s unnecessarily complex structure, Finance always had to handle the day-to-day requests for information that came in from line of business managers and others – requests for data reporting and ad-hoc analysis. Our EPM platform became a choke point, and it forced us to spend the majority of our resources on these daily information requests, commonly referred to as “blocking and tackling.”  So much for strategy, planning and decision support.

Optimal

Reality

The truth is, we found ourselves with an EPM platform that was so convoluted and difficult to use, there was no hope of creating an efficient, self-service environment for others in the business.  To managers across the enterprise, it was just easier if Finance handled it all.  So we had no choice but to apply the time and resources we intended to put toward strategic activities and instead spend them on blocking and tackling.

Block and Tackle, Rinse and Repeat

In the world of legacy EPM platforms, empowering users across the business is no easy feat. It’s a meandering journey involving multiple steps, and they typically start with an email from a department manager requesting information. A few email exchanges later (to clarify parameters and other variables), Finance evaluates whether an appropriate report already exists or if a new report must be written to satisfy the request.  Information is then extracted, summarized and emailed back to the requestor.

But the fun doesn’t end there, because more often than not the requestor will have additional questions, or the results you just sent will trigger a new information request.  From there Finance would “rinse and repeat.”

It’s hard to think seriously about optimal resource allocation when your Finance group is handling dozens of requests like this a month, and you find yourself locked in a blocking and tackling loop from which there’s no escape.  Trapped in that loop, there’s no way to scale your EPM platform to others in your organization.

It’s enough to make a Finance girl go rogue. And that’s precisely what happened after I met Tidemark.

Going Rogue with Tidemark

I recall my first demo clearly.  I was stunned by the ease of use, the accessibility of information, the ability to perform in-context analysis, the level of easy collaboration with non-Finance users, and the intuitive step-by-step process navigation.  Here was an FP&A platform accessible to people with no FP&A experience. Here was an application that doesn’t sacrifice the user experience to meet back-office Finance requirements. Here, finally, was a solution that gives stakeholders throughout the business a way to get the information and insights they need without  requiring Finance to mediate it. Why hadn’t someone come up with this before?

An application this groundbreaking could make a girl want to stay in Finance.

Well, almost. The truth is, I became so impressed with Tidemark’s modern approach to EPM – one built around enterprise-wide collaboration, self-service analysis, and widespread accessibility to always current data and insights — that I decided to join the Tidemark team.

But for those still fighting the good fight in Finance, I encourage you to remember the lesson this Finance girl learned by going rogue: Shed your legacy EPM platform, replace it with a truly modern, cloud-based solution that puts your entire enterprise in the FP&A picture, and get out of the blocking and tackling business once and for all.