Why Robust Data Integration is Critical to Effective EPM Processes

Key EPM processes include modeling, planning, financial consolidation, reporting, and analytics that are linked in a continuous, repeatable management cycle.

As organizations move from spreadsheets and legacy EPM applications to cloud-based EPM platforms, robust data integration capabilities are essential to ensuring smooth-running EPM processes, accelerating planning and reporting, and providing actionable insights to managers across the enterprise.

Data Integration Requirements in EPM Processes and Software

One of the most critical requirements of an EPM platform is the ability to integrate financial and non-financial data from multiple sources.  For example, the integration of financial data from general ledgers (GLs) and operational data from human capital management (HCM) and other sources is required to support the financial consolidation and reporting process.

In budgeting and planning, the integration of prior-year actuals from GLs may be required to “seed” the annual budget process.  Many organizations need to import historical information about their employees from HCM applications to perform headcount and compensation planning, or sales forecasts from CRM applications.  Data integration is also required to perform budget vs. actual analysis of financial or operational results.  Historic financial results are also required to support periodic forecasting, as well as rolling forecasts.

As organizations look to move their EPM processes and systems to cloud-based platforms, having the ability to integrate data from both on-premises and cloud-based GL, HCM, and CRM systems is critical to streamlining planning and reporting processes.

What Data Integration Features to Look for in EPM Software

When evaluating and selecting EPM software, there are tons of features and functions to look for, but among those, the most important just may be  robust data integration capabilities.  An EPM platform needs to support the integration of a wide variety of data sources and types:

  • Trial balance summaries
  • Transaction detail
  • Statistical/non-financial data
  • Employees, jobs, and positions
  • Leads, opportunities
  • Users and user security
  • Chart of accounts
  • Operational metrics
  • Currency rates
  • And more

This data may reside in on-premises or cloud-based GL, ERP, HCM, or CRM systems, as well as in data warehouses and spreadsheets.  In order to accommodate the variety of systems and data types that EPM applications need to integrate with, here are some key capabilities to look for in EPM data integration:

  • Provides the ability to import flat files and spreadsheets without a lot of manual effort
  • Delivers API-level integration and the ability to customize data integration
  • Offers ETL and pre-built connectors to a variety of data sources
  • Has the ability to automate and schedule the integration processes
  • Features the ability for the Finance department to support data integration with minimal support from the IT department.

A Cloud-Based EPM Platform with Robust Data Integration

Data integration is a critical capability for EPM processes, and in today’s world of heterogeneous systems, a modern EPM platform needs to be able to integrate data from a wide variety of systems, whether on-premises or in the cloud.

Robust data integration is a key advantage of the Planful Enterprise Performance Platform.  Planful supports the integration of data from a wide variety of sources and data types, and offers several different methods – including flat files, API integration, and the more direct and automated approach using our embedded ETL tool and pre-built connectors to over 100 source systems.

Hundreds of customers are using the Planful data integration capabilities to load summary data, as well as detailed transactions and other non-financial data, into their planning, consolidation, and modeling applications on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  With our cloud-based platform, you can be assured that your data integration processes are repeatable, automated, and secure while providing the robust audit trails required by internal and external auditors.

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