For many companies, its getting to be that time of year again. No, I am not talking about getting ready for Christmas decorating contests in the office...although that is not far off. I am talking about getting ready for the big annual plan.
If you own SAP BPC, and you're interested in having a low drama cycle this year, here are some tips you may want to consider.
1.) Ask your users for suggestions - At Column5, nearly all of our best ideas come from customer requests. We have found if you ask for feedback...you'll get it. In fact you'll get more than you know what to do with. Mining this feedback for common suggestions will give you a punch list of improvements to prioritize and implement. We recommend using a survey tool. If your company doesn't have one - there are many easy to use free sites. We recommend www.surveymonkey.com. The name notwithstanding, this is a tool that will help you collect and analyze user feedback in no time. The best part about asking users for feedback proactively, you'll find they have a vested interest in seeing the process succeed. Consider repeating the process with a "how'd we do?" survey to make a list of potential improvements for the next cycle.
2.) Conduct refresher training - For those companies who still do annual plans, this process typically involves users who only use this tool once a year. Users who are not familiar with the navigation and capabilities of the system may benefit from retraining on BPC. A little goes a long way, and in our studies, where training is a priority, satisfaction with the tool is higher.
3.) Perform a system health check - You probably realize by now that BPC is an easy to use system that has a complex and highly capable engine running underneath. If its been a while since the system was optimized for performance, its possible you may be experiencing degraded performance. Over the years, data volumes increase, complexity of the system (more dimension members, outdated formulae, and increased numbers of reports) is usually the root cause of a change in performance. Before your users get in to put pressure on the system, make sure the foundation of your critical application is in top condition. Contact experts in the platform and functional configurations to go through your current status to confirm the system is ready for use. Securing top performance before the process begins will pay dividends throughout the process and increase customer satisfaction.
4.) Do a dry run - Testing is always a best practice when implementing a new system...but do you test when functionality hasn't been used in a while - or do you just assume it will work and hope for the best? Get a few power users together and dust off those input templates and do a dry run. This can familiarize your users with the system if its been some time between cycles, and it can uncover challenges when you actually have time to address the problem. With a little proactive organization, critical issues can be sidestepped. Your users will thank you with a smoother cycle!
5.) Implement at least one small process change - You have an extremely capable system with nearly limitless possibilities for expansion. Are you resting on your laurels from last year's successful plan? Consider making a small change to your process. Consider introducing a BPF (Business Process Flow) to enhance process control and tracking. Try making more dynamic reports available as easy to use standards to encourage self service reporting. If you don't want to change the front end at all, try turning on audit trails to enable an easy to use data diagnostic tool on the back end. If you really want to go for the gold, consider adopting a rolling forecast so you don't have to do a high stakes, high pressure plan process at the end of the year.
Whatever you do this year before you kick off your planning process, consider calling Column5, the world's leading EPM consultancy. With our best practices, training content, proven technical know-how, and our leading value returned from BPC implementations, we really know the difference between an EPM system that just works, and one that drives value back to the business.
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