Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) gives C-level executives and others throughout your organization a vivid, up-to-the-minute picture of key business metrics. Whether it is a sales performance dashboard, a snapshot of A/R collections, a trends analysis dashboard, a marketing performance app, or a variance-to-Year 12-month view report, EPM reporting can be a powerful tool in helping your organization meet its objectives. It provides a real-time view of the things that matter most to the Office of the CFO.
The extent of time and effort it takes to develop the dashboards and reports that will best serve your organization varies widely among EPM tools. Some tools require extensive training and a high level of technical expertise. Others, like CXO Software, are user-friendly, allowing users in the finance department to develop such reports themselves. When that’s combined with a collection of predefined templates, companies can get up and running very quickly with EPM. That translates to tangible business results in a very short period of time.
EPM reporting templates may not sound like significant tools, but they’re actually the centerpiece of a refined reporting strategy. Users who rely exclusively on Oracle Hyperion or Oracle PBCS will understand why.
Building reports from the ground up can be a lengthy, labor-intensive process that frequently extends out of the finance department and into the IT department. Decision makers regularly have to wait for performance metrics that they should track on a daily basis. They also have to settle for basic reports instead of insightful, actionable, customized data assets.
EPM reporting templates offer the perfect solution. For example, some of the templates available in the CXO Showcase Gallery include a homepage with key metrics intuitively displayed and image redirects that lead to more detailed reports, several profit and loss reports with additional features, trends dashboards, and even a dynamic front-page template for storyboards..
The finance experts behind CXO Software have tailored each template to a specific metric, workflow, or strategic priority. Without requiring any input from IT, these templates fulfill the majority of reporting requirements. In cases when they don’t provide everything you need, you can easily customize the templates. Customization is so easy that real users can create their own templates and submit them to our catalog for others to access for free, which is a great way of sharing best practices across the CXO community.
It’s hard to overstate how much easier reporting becomes with access to purpose-built templates automatically populated with data. Self-service reporting is here and ready for you to try. To get a better sense of what templates can do, consider some of the best examples:
Examples of EPM Reporting Templates
Sales Performance by Location
Although simple on the surface, this Sales Performance by Location template offers a complete picture of sales performance. The report breaks down sales by location and product. Users can drill into the data behind any metric for in-depth understanding, or glance at the indicators included along with each metric to quickly see how they’re trending. Changing locations and products is easy, making this report appropriate for any company that wants to learn more about sales performance across locations.
Management Information Dashboard
In the best instances, reports condense massive amounts of information into an accessible and digestible format. This Management Information Dashboard template does exactly that, integrating the most important KPIs and creating a single source of truth for understanding enterprise performance. A smart design combined with straightforward visualizations allow this template to communicate volumes.
This KPIs Overview template offers another broad overview of enterprise performance, but from a different perspective. Users pick the three KPIs they need to track most closely. The report displays those metrics in increasing levels of granularity, concluding with dynamic waterfall charts that incorporate drillable tables. With this report, it only takes a second to know whether KPIs are trending up or down, while users also have easy access to all the data concerning what’s driving those trends.
FTE Trend Analysis
Like many of the templates available, this FTE Trend Analysis template takes a deep dive into one specific metric. Stakeholders can track the number of full-time employees over a 12-month period, across locations, broken down by demographic, and calculated out by cost, all in one simplified location. Understanding how decisions affect personnel, and vice versa becomes significantly easier once all the salient data are in one place.
Profit and Loss with Trend Analysis
Focusing even more closely, this Profit and Loss with Trend Analysis template allows users to select any account on the P&L statement and get a complete trend analysis comparing actuals, budget, and last year’s data. Users can track the pulse of enterprise performance and instantly access data and analyses that would take extensive amounts of research time to collect otherwise.
Getting Started with EPM Reporting Templates
An interactive EPM reporting strategy is far and away better than relying on static reports. Dynamic reports provide up-to-the-minute information. They bring the data to life, helping decision makers fully understand what is happening in the business in real time.
As advantageous as interactive EPM reporting may be, it’s not always easy to build best-in-class reports. There are countless different ways to condense information and present performance, but only one ideal way. Now that you have seen some examples and understand the benefits of an EPM strategy built around templates, let’s talk about how you can get started and begin taking advantage of this powerful strategy in your organization:
Step 1: Choose Your Data Sources
EPM tools automatically pull information from consolidated group financial data or to budgeting and planning data. CXO can access this information as well as external information through the CXO Data Warehouse Adapter to provide a complete overview of the most important information for decision makers.
Step 2: Choose Reporting Templates
The quickest way to get started with interactive reporting is to work with pre-built templates created by domain experts. Typically, these templates incorporate best practices for design as well as performance monitoring, and they’re explicitly designed to handle the most common reporting needs. Find the models that look and function the way you want. You can also consider building customized reports from the ground up.
Step 3: Select the Dimensions
This is where reporting becomes interactive. Select different dimensions—year, period, entity, etc.—that let users quickly switch up the information they’re viewing. The key is to choose the most important dimensions for decision makers, particularly those that enable comparisons between adjacent periods, business units, product lines, or sales channels.
Step 4: Create Multiple Points of View
Much like dimensions, users should be able to view the same information in multiple different contexts. For instance, the section of the report that tracks net sales can indicate how those sales compare to the current budget or the previous year. Being able to give information new context quickly is one of the most critical features of an interactive EPM report.
Step 5: Highlight Information in Tiles
Tiles are bold blocks of information that combine all the details necessary to understand a single key performance indicator like Gross Margin Percentage, Net Profit, or Working Capital. The point of tiles is to put essential information front and center, so that decision makers always have a perspective into performance.
Step 6: Drill into the Data
Unlike static reports, which only report a snapshot in time before they are out of date, dynamic reports and dashboards present a wide range of information in one place, and are constantly updated as new information becomes available. On the surface, they condense a lot of information into a digestible format. Underneath that surface, however, is a vast amount of data that went into calculating specific metrics. With dynamic reporting, users in your company have an entry point from which they can explore virtually any aspect of performance. Ideally, your reporting tools should make that exploration process as simple and intuitive as possible.
Step 7: Translate Information Visually
Visualizations will often provide the greatest value to the users in your organization. Let’s face it, it can be difficult to identify patterns, outliers, and other significant information when numbers are simply presented in rows and columns on a computer screen or mobile device. Visual displays such as charts, graphs, trend lines, and indicators (like up or down arrows) bring the information to life. They help users make sense of the information quickly, easily, and intuitively.
Step 8: Create a Storyboard
By itself, a single report rarely tells the whole story. To understand the big picture of enterprise performance, users need multiple points of information, often provided as a series of reports. After following the steps above to create individual reports, group together reports relevant to one another in what’s known as a storyboard.
Storyboards create a narrative that explains performance. They place individual reports within a broader context. That enhances the meaning and value to the people who rely on those reports for a better understanding of what is happening in the business. For each storyboard, be sure to include the highly relevant reports, while excluding all others. In addition, it’s helpful to organize the reports so that each one builds upon the others, painting a vivid picture for decision makers.
Step 9: Always Be Adapting
The final step in an interactive EPM reporting strategy is to always be adapting. Businesses change, and their needs evolve. Consider how the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic affected revenue, supply chains, and production capacity. Business executives throughout the world were called upon to respond quickly to that highly disruptive change. Those who had quick access to information were at a distinct advantage over those who did not. Those who could track business performance visually and intuitively, in real time, were better equipped than others who were left to rely upon static reports filled with rows and columns of numbers.
When COVID-19 hit, agility and resiliency became the new buzzwords throughout the business world. Although that shock is behind us and the future looks bright, most business executives understand that agility will serve them well under any conditions, regardless of the broader economic circumstances.
Relying on the same types of reports over and over can lead to tunnel vision and stale decision making. A better approach is to proactively create new reports that analyze the complicated issue of performance from multiple perspectives. As long as you rely on tools that make it just as easy to create reports as it is to run reports, your company is fully equipped to understand its strengths and weaknesses.
Next Steps to Get Started with EPM
Many EPM solutions simply capture and aggregate data rather than present information in a compelling way that truly supports effective business decisions, and the built-in reporting that comes with most ERP software is generally too limited and inflexible to respond to the fast-changing world in which businesses must operate today. As a result, many finance teams don’t have quick access to the data they need to do their jobs effectively.
If you’re looking for EPM reporting that’s built with finance in mind, insightsoftware can help. We offer a range of reporting, planning, and analysis tools for businesses of all sizes. Our purpose-built EPM reporting solution, CXO Software, helps you transform your business data into dynamic insights for the C-suite and others in your organization.
If you would like to see the power of our interactive EPM reporting firsthand, contact us today to arrange a demo of CXO Software. We can help you streamline and simplify your reporting processes. Even more importantly, we can help you take your reporting to a new level, providing dynamic C-level dashboards that will transform the way you do business.