Why Companies Get Stuck with Hyperion and Finding A Replacement

Why Companies Get Stuck with Hyperion and Finding A Replacement

My last post, “Top Reasons Companies Get Stuck With Oracle Hyperion,” had a high level of interest, and I promised to share reasons four through six of why current Oracle Hyperion users who are evaluating other options—and get stuck—with Oracle Hyperion.

In case you missed it, I also summarized findings from independent research that detailed why Oracle Hyperion users feel trapped.

In this post, I’ll share facts, trends, and thoughts on why sticking with Oracle Hyperion may not be the best move and how to find a replacement for Hyperion. Ready?

Let’s dive into the next three reasons Finance users get stuck with Oracle Hyperion.

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Reason #4: Oracle Hyperion stack/one throat to choke.

Ah … the “Oracle Stack.” Search “Oracle Stack” on Google, and this Oracle White Paper tops the list. Keywords in it include “designed and tested as an integrated, end-to-end stack” and “offering optimum functionality, top performance, and reduced complexity.” We’ll get to those in a minute.

The benefits detailed in the Oracle White Paper sound perfect for an EPM system. Working with one vendor for the majority of the company’s system needs also has an appeal at a high level. When you dig into it, however, Hyperion comes up short in meeting finance and accounting’s EPM needs.

Let’s break down Oracle Hyperion’s stack definition. We’ll start with the products in Hyperion’s “designed and tested, end-to-end stack.” Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) is built on Windows, while Hyperion Planning is Unix-based. Thus, these products use different scripting languages, store their data on separate servers, and require their own administration.

They’re also only able to share and communicate with each other and other external systems with “integration” tools, such as FDM/FDQM, DRM, and Application link. So their definition of stack for their core “suite” is really two separate solutions that only work together with lots of help. Not my ideal when I think of “end-to-end stack.”

Now, let’s look at “offering optimum functionality and performance.” The different platforms and integration detailed above require significant management and overhead to run smoothly. From servers and IT to Hyperion Admins, the overhead required to optimize performance and speeds requires a significant overhead spend.

That’s not even all they require. Because the systems are rigid, requiring consultants and cash to make changes, a dose of Excel and email are also generally required to fill in gaps. That doesn’t sound optimum from here.

Given the underlying technology, the Oracle Hyperion “stack” is a bit shaky in my book. Further, our customers who have migrated from Oracle Hyperion tell us their teams were spending more time chasing down numbers, working with IT and admins, and reconciling numbers than analyzing results and supporting business goals. Without a single unified database, Oracle Hyperion is a shaky stack at best.

As for the benefit of “one throat to choke,” it sounds good until you look at the facts.  The cost paid vs. the value delivered brings it into question. Top that off with Oracle Audits and their poor support rating, and it becomes clear why it doesn’t hold here. It’s no wonder customers want to choke Oracle.

Reason #5: Cloud cannot deliver a full EPM suite.

This is more of a bias than a reason. I’m a sports fan and liken it to the East Coast Bias. There’s an “Oracle Hyperion Bias” due to the brand’s past success and influence. Like the East Coast Bias, though, it can send you off course from what really matters.

Planful customer base is growing rapidly and includes many companies that have migrated from HFM, Hyperion Planning, Essbase, and Enterprise. The first thing most of them mention is how impressed they are by the breadth and depth of functionality available in Planful. Couple that with the benefits of the cloud and their “Oracle Hyperion Bias” quickly changes.

The only way to break the bias to check out one of our live demos because seeing is believing.

Reason #6: IT chooses Oracle for the company, and Hyperion comes with it.

I have a friend in finance at a large clothing retailer, and the company runs on Oracle. Thus, his team uses HFM, Hyperion Planning, and Essbase. He shares his Oracle Hyperion experiences from time to time. One of my favorites is the time he was helping a new employee pull data from Essbase and their query came back empty. He triple checked their script but was forced to call the Essbase admin for help. Unfortunately, they had to wait two days before they got their numbers.

I regularly remind him of the value and benefits of the cloud and ask when he’s going to break free from Hyperion and move to Planful. He gets excited, then shakes his head and tells me there is no way IT will go for it.

In most instances like the one my friend finds himself, Oracle and Hyperion are either a company or IT directive—which means it’s an IT project, their blood, sweat, and tears. The frustrating thing is IT doesn’t have the time to support accounting and finance. Thus, Oracle Hyperion is never quite running correctly, and the undelivered list of needs from the finance team is long.

Technology is changing and cloud-based EPM is the better option today. There are “hybrid” options that support co-existence without a full Hyperion replacement, enabled by technology like Planful ApplicationLink for Oracle Hyperion. It enables Planful Cloud EPM Suite to work seamlessly with Oracle Hyperion applications. It’s also a great way to quickly gain the benefits of the cloud for a division or acquisition.

Conclusion

If this post feels familiar, you are not alone. If you feel Oracle is not delivering on your needs, evaluate the alternatives. They’re out there. Planful is in the process of doing to Oracle Hyperion what Salesforce.com did to Siebel and continues to do to Oracle today in CRM.

I am confident Planful is the best fit for current Oracle Hyperion customers looking to make the move—and get unstuck.

Are you ready to get started, get unstuck, and realize the benefits of the cloud? Start by checking out our Hyperion Migration Program. If you like what you see, give us a call.

Download Hyperion White Paper

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Robert Kugel, SVP of Research at Ventana Research, recently published an article about the new product and its ability to help customers simplify their planning and reporting processes.

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Citing Ventana’s research about the domination of spreadsheets in corporate planning, Kugel noted, “Software vendors and IT departments have been trying – mainly in vain – to get users to switch from spreadsheets to a variety of dedicated applications.  To date, most dedicated applications have been far more difficult than spreadsheets for the average business user to use in the design and test phases.  To convince people to switch to its dedicated application, a vendor must offer an alternative that lets users model, create reports, collect data, and create dedicated data stores as easily as they can do it in a desktop spreadsheet.”

He goes on to highlight how Planful Modeling Cloud attempts to address the spreadsheet problem. According to Kugel, the Modeling module enables individuals in business units to create and update plans and budgets, as well as their underlying models, in a way that’s consistent with what they’re used to doing. He then elaborates on how the Modeling Cloud also makes it easy to tie these together to achieve an integrated, company-wide view.

In one of his final comments Kugel said, “I recommend that Planful customers assess using Modeling Cloud in their organization and that buyers of dedicated planning applications include this type of capability in their evaluation of vendors’ offerings.”

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  • And many others

To learn more about Planful Modeling Cloud, visit the product page, check out our demo videos, or take an interactive test drive.

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Why Leaving Excel Behind Leads to Improved EPM

Why Leaving Excel Behind Leads to Improved EPM

For decades, many companies have relied on Excel spreadsheets to support enterprise performance management (EPM) processes.

Spreadsheets were used for budgeting, planning, reporting and more. Many companies are having a hard time giving up the trusted old Excel spreadsheet for a more sophisticated Enterprise Performance Management system. “It’s too expensive,” and, “It’s too complicated,” and, “We have so much invested in our spreadsheets,” are common reasons enterprises cite for not making the switch. Here’s the truth that enterprises need to know about leaving Excel for a modern EPM. 

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Excel is Costing Your Business More Than You Realize 

As with all manual processes, Excel is extremely vulnerable to human error. 

bigstock-Calculator-with-text-on-the-di-82140416Excel might look cheap on paper, because it comes with Office Pro, which most businesses buy as standard software. The hidden costs are numerous, however. First, Excel is tremendously time consuming. Each department usually uses their own templates and methods to create their spreadsheets, which have to be deciphered later by accounting or auditors. Excel is fraught with human errors due to its manual processes, and does not offer the transparency demanded by today’s business environment. 

Excel is a Security Risk 

The primary way to transmit an Excel spreadsheet between employees and departments is via email. However, email is inherently insecure. In fact, email is the number one way that businesses get infiltrated and hacked. Additionally, Excel spreadsheets (even after deleted) can live on old computers and servers, holding sensitive information about the business, its employees, proprietary secrets, financial standing, etc. Excel spreadsheets can also get out of the organization via stolen laptops, rogue or careless employees, and other mishaps. A modern EPM eliminates all of these security concerns, as these solutions are endowed with enterprise grade security features. 

Excel is Riddled With Human Errors 

As a manual process, even the best kept Excel spreadsheets are filled with errors entered by people. Employees misread or mistype fields. People forget things, and accidentally type over things, and get careless about entries and simply do not add necessary fields. EPM solutions are designed to detect when someone is trying to enter invalid information into a field or when a necessary field is missing information. While it is impossible to make an EPM totally immune to a certain amount of human error, EPM software provides far more accurate and complete data and reporting than does a spreadsheet. 

Excel is Not Flexible and Scalable 

Excel can’t grow with a business. Once spreadsheets reach a certain size and complexity, it is difficult to manage the data, which makes planning and reporting difficult or impossible. 

bigstock-Male-Architect-With-Digital-Ta-59300576Cloud-Based EPM solutions are designed to grow and bend as the business evolves. Excel can’t do that. All Excel users can do is add more spreadsheets or extend the existing spreadsheets until those are even more unmanageable and unwieldy. A modern enterprise needs data to be readily available in a timely manner for real-time or near-real-time reporting and analysis. There is simply no scenario in which an Excel spreadsheet can compete with an EPM solution in the modern age of big data and data analytics. 

Learn more about how the days of the Excel spreadsheet are over and it’s time to move to a cloud-based EPM solution. Surprisingly, cloud-based EPM software is more affordable than dealing with the errors of a spreadsheet and easier than trying to make spreadsheets grow with the business. Download the whitepaper, “No More Spreadsheets: Top 5 Reasons to Stop Using Excel for Planning,” today.

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It also requires an array of consulting, training, and support services that ensure a successful initial implementation, as well as ongoing usage and delivery of business value.  I recently had an opportunity to connect with Ron Baden, SVP of Services at Planful, to get his take on Planful Services and how they support our “customers for life” philosophy.  Here’s what he had to say. 

John:  Ron, what’s the charter or vision for Planful’ Services organization?  Can you explain it for our readers?

Ron:  Sure, John. The charter for Planful Services is to implement our solutions in the most efficient way possible for the customer and to deliver maximum value from the subscription.  We want to ensure customers’ success so that they become positive references, renew their subscriptions, and remain “customers for life.” 

In Services, we aren’t focused on maximizing utilization or driving margins.  We’re all about the success of our customer and of the company.  In addition to implementing the solutions, we help with sales support, POCs, renewals, and ensuring long-term customer success.  In fact, 25% of our hours last quarter were spent on sales and customer support. 

John:  What type of expertise does our services organization provide to customers?

Ron:  Our Services team has an average of 8-9 years of EPM experience and 12 years of Finance experience.  We have the experience and understanding of our customers’ business challenges, so we can address their problems and work together as partners to solve those problems.  We provide risk mitigation for Finance executives through our methodology, project plans, and staffing.  We also provide change management services focused on helping customers with technology transition.

John:  What is our services methodology?  What’s our secret sauce?

Ron:  Our secret sauces is really about leveraging the cloud to accelerate the implementation process and ensure success.  We perform extensive testing during the implementation cycle, including functional testing, user acceptance testing, and “end to end” system testing.  This includes data loading, application processing, and reporting.  We make sure everything is working correctly before we leave customers on their own.

John:  What makes our services approach different from the competition?

Ron:  We focus on the rollout process, not just the “go live” date.  That means we stay close to the customer through the first completed cycle – budgeting, financial reporting, etc.  The project isn’t complete until the customer signs our project completion certificate. 

John:  That’s great.  How about partners, what is their role in the implementation process?

Ron:  We are very partner-friendly in our implementations.  It’s a true partnership, not us vs. them with finger-pointing.  We are very supportive of mixed projects where partners bring project and industry expertise – which is combined with our product expertise.  As we have grown, most of our projects are mixed in terms of resources.  We lead about half of them, and our partners lead the other half.  To that end, we provide partner enablement services to ensure the quality of the services delivered by our partners and to help scale our ecosystem. 

John:  How long does the typical implementation process take?

Ron:  The average is 8-12 weeks for a development and implementation cycle.  When you include us staying involved through the first business process completion. It can extend to 12-16 weeks.  That’s a lot shorter than for most on-premises solutions, where it can take 6-8 weeks just to order the hardware.  But thanks to our agile methodology and cloud architecture, our scope and design process is shorter, and the training process is shorter. 

John:  What does an implementation team typically look like?

Ron:  From the Planful side, it’s typically three people: a project manager, a solution architect, and an implementation consultant who’s really hands-on the keyboard, leveraging personal experience with the solution and how it integrates with other systems. 

John:  What’s the relationship between the services and training organizations?

Ron:  Training is part of the Services organization. They are a critical part of the implementation team.  Also, training is bundled within our subscription model to ensure customer success.  This includes courses that ensure smooth onboarding, ongoing running of the system, using the latest features, and driving broad user adoption.  The subscription model ensures all users have a learning path and stay engaged.  It also ensures higher renewal rates and ongoing usage.

John:  How does the services organization support our “customers for life” philosophy?

Ron:  As I mentioned earlier, a key metric for us is productive utilization – last quarter, 25% of our time went to preservation of ARR, customer renewals, and new customer acquisition.  We make sure users are happy and productive through our administrator accelerator training, system tuning, and ongoing customer support.  We view our implementation services as a key component of our “customers for life” philosophy, and it’s been very successful so far. 

John:  Thanks, Ron – this has been very helpful.  Where can customers go to learn more about our Services offerings? 

Ron:  To learn more about Planful Services and Training offerings, customers can visit the Services page on our website.

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