March 8, 2024

5 Powerful Reasons to Outsource EPM Application Management

Embarking on the intricate journey of Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) applications poses challenges for many Australian enterprises including hesitancy to relinquish control and concerns about potential risks. The strategic move to outsource the management of your EPM applications is not only a common practice but an imperative step with a range of benefits including more efficient budgeting, forecasting, reporting and analysis.

Modern-day EPM applications like IBM’s Planning Analytics (TM1) are sophisticated databases capable of processing billions of calculations across multiple dimensions in near real-time. Highly regarded by finance teams, the usual custodians of such systems, as standard operating equipment, organisations are increasingly dependent on data and analytics for planning and reporting. With this comes the added pressure to support, maintain and continually improve these powerful applications, which typically falls outside of the capability and capacity of the finance team.

1.  Mitigating key person risk

The role of an EPM as the single source of truth is critical to your organisation. An EPM actively reduces dependence on the knowledge of a single person, but the knowledge of how the system works, or how to use it efficiently to avoid bottlenecks, is often at risk when someone leaves.

Senior finance people are often limited by capability and capacity to manage, evolve, upgrade, and implement changes to the EPM application, yet the responsibility resides with them. It is essential that finance leaders feel confident that the system is reliable, backed by a transparent process, and ensures business continuity.

72% see loss of key personnel as a significant risk, and 58% believe their organisation lacks documented succession plans for key personnel
2021 report by the Institute of International Auditors Australia

2. Access to specialised resources

Finance teams need finance people. Application management teams need application specialists. Specialised EPM skills are challenging to acquire and retain, a search for talent is made even more difficult if you require a finance professional with these skills.

Cloud and data analytics skills are in high demand, for exceeding supply, and 88,000 IT jobs are expected to be unfilled by 2025
The Australian Computer Society Skills Report 2023

We recommend adopting best practices for incident management, problem management, knowledge management and continual improvement. Each requires specialised skills and focused attention and is not usually undertaken by just one person.

Adopting best practices for application management of your EPM will ensure it operates smoothly resulting in fewer incidents, improved performance and higher rates of user productivity.

42% of Australian small businesses outsource some of their IT functions, and small businesses with outsourced IT report increased productivity, efficiency and cost savings
The 2022 MYOB SME Business Monitor

Outsourcing to a specialised partner grants secure access to a dedicated team configured to meet your organisation’s needs. Outsourced application management provides transparency and assurance that the EPM is maintained effectively, relying on the expertise and experience of a technically capable team.

3. Enhancing transparency

Transparency should be as important to application managers as it is to business managers. You cannot manage what you do not measure.

There are a few questions every application owner should ask:

  • How many incidents were there last month?
  • How long did it take to resolve them?
  • Are users more satisfied than last year?
  • What problems are we investigating and what are their priorities?
  • How many changes are we putting through this month?
  • Are we fully compliant with security policies?
  • How much capacity does the system have before we need to upgrade?

When faced with the reality of limited resources and a part-time application administrator (often as a role split for a finance professional or accountant), it is near impossible to obtain the information you require in a timely response. What you need in this situation is a service desk.

Most finance functions operate without a service desk function. However, for a team with responsibility for managing applications, it is essential. A service desk ensures issues are recorded, tracked, prioritised, and actioned within agreed service levels.

Outsourcing allows you to leverage sophisticated service desk platforms for recording, tracking, and prioritising issues with a commitment to full transparency.

15% staff experienced an increase in user satisfaction, and 10% staff experienced an increase in productivity
The 2020 study on Impact of IT Service Desk on User Satisfaction and Productivity

4. Ensuring flexible capacity

season for a finance team is like Melbourne’s Grand Final weekend. According to the typical annual corporate budgeting cycle takes between 25 days (at best) and 56 days (at worst).

This peak of activity is commensurate with the load on your EPM application which includes the need for priority user support, enhanced system monitoring, more frequent data loads, urgent resolution of issues, validated back-ups, more frequent reports and calculations, and extended hours of operation. It is no surprise that the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand Corporate Governance Centre recommends:

  • Having a flexible and scalable IT infrastructure to meet changing business needs.
  • Regularly reviewing and updating IT capacity plans.

From our experience with a range of clients, it is not unusual to see less than 10% of users being active on a planning system outside the planning cycle, and closer to 100% within it. These peaks and troughs need a flexible model for resourcing.

Outsourcing actively provides access to a skilled pool of resources precisely when needed, especially during peak times. Organisations leveraging cloud and managed IT services experience a 25% improvement in planning cycle efficiency (Deloitte Australia 2023), effectively alleviating the burden on internal teams and ensuring EPM operations remain agile and responsive to dynamic business needs.

5. Lowering costs through continual improvement

James Clear tells the story of the British cycling team’s transformation to a long run of podium places through incremental changes. A tweak to a diet, slight change in seat position, different tyre, altered sleep pattern; all work towards gaining an upward trajectory in pursuit of excellence. It is a powerful reminder of the cumulative impact of a constantly learning and improving mindset.

The business landscape is one of relentless change driving the need for operational flexibility. Continual improvement becomes imperative for EPM applications to keep pace and improve value through timely and accurate analysis of business performance. Outsourcing leaves continual improvement to the specialists, while you reap the benefits.

The Australian Institute of Company Directors emphasises:

  • The importance of continual improvement for organisational success.
  • Encouraging a culture of innovation and learning within organisations.

We know from our own experience organisations that actively engage in continual improvement initiatives see a 15% decrease in operational costs or more.

Outsourcing the management of your EPM represents a strategic alignment poised for success. Enterprises mitigate potential risks and elevate the efficiency, transparency, and flexibility of their enterprise performance management when partnering with a specialised service provider. It’s an integral step towards unlocking the full potential of your EPM application, empowering your enterprise to focus on what matters most in the pursuit of sustainable growth and success.