Planning is one of the crucial processes for a public sector organisation: goals are defined, generally determined politically, and the sequence of action steps required to achieve them is established.
The amount of time and effort needed to accomplish these goals will demonstrate how effective the planning process is. The activity to achieve these goals will be primarily concerned with offering a service to the community rather than profit driven – which is a key difference to the private sector.
Budgets are often already fixed and their main assets – resources – are constrained; ultimately funded by taxation, and controlled by government through grant settlements. Planning teams are therefore under immense pressure to provide accurate plans with less resources and a planning tool that is fit for purpose and required little support and maintenance from IT.
The benefits of Cloud technology
Cloud technology has altered the SAP EPM market, providing plausible solutions to some of the issues facing many public organisations. For one thing, they can reduce the IT support time and effort required during implementations. Additional benefits include the following:
The SaaS (Software as a Service) concept behind the cloud allows organisations to re-size systems to meet business demands based on the capacity of central servers without internal IT support. This also makes it easier to deploy business templates, allowing organisations to reuse business content across projects, decreasing the implementation effort.
Low capital expenditure
SAP Cloud for Planning software is faster to deploy in terms of installation. This means that organisations have lower start-up costs and predictable operating expenses based on the licensing required. As software maintenance and upgrades are done centrally, clients do not need to assign resources and time for these tasks.
No software footprint is required on users’ laptops, simplifying access to the system and client software maintenance. This represents a huge benefit for public sector organisations where IT teams’ access to users’ laptops is not always feasible. Planning in the cloud also allows users to synchronise and work on shared documents at the same time, wherever they are. Working on cloud documents prevents having control version issues
Sensitive public information is saved in a secured system according to international security standards where access is controlled, rather than having offline spreadsheets and documents where information can be easily leaked. From a hardware perspective, security is also simplified as disaster recovery plans are no longer needed.
Cloud is the way forward
As reflected in Gartner’s analysis of the current solutions, the increased spectrum of the EPM market has broadened the variety of vendors and technologies, but looking at the leaders in the Magic Quadrant for corporate management suites, the trend is clear: Cloud is the way forward. Specialised vendors like Tidemark, Host Analytics or Anaplan offer lighter options to traditional vendors like Oracle, IBM and SAP, while the latter ones have made a huge effort in developing their new planning tools around cloud technologies (e.g. Oracle Cloud Hyperion and SAP Cloud for Planning).
SAP Cloud for Planning was presented in the last quarter of 2014 with a clear mission: to offer a modern planning application in the Cloud, with the look and feel of a consumer app, bringing the perks of the cloud to the planning tool. Usability was a key principle behind this solution, offering analysis, planning and collaboration through the web and on mobile device.