Expanding the EPM Journey

2 February 2016

Raj Thapar

Raj Thapar

Director, Enterprise Performance Management

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last ten years or so, you might have noticed a myriad of buzzwords that have made the transition to CXO-level vernacular. “Real-time Analysis”, “Holistic Reporting”, “Single Source of the Truth” and “Timely & Accurate Data” are some of my favourites.

It is apparent that EPM is the “next big thing” as a means of enhancing organisational performance, however I often wonder whether organisations really ask themselves a relatively simple question: “What should an EPM journey look like?”

What is it?

Before we can answer the question it is probably worthwhile understanding what EPM, or to use its full name, Enterprise Performance Management is all about. At its heart, it is about the efficient and effective management of business processes. All too often EPM is pigeon holed into purely “Planning & Forecasting”, “Management Reporting” or “Analytics”. EPM is so much more than just these.  In simple terms, EPM covers any business process that improves performance through a continuous loop of data collection, reporting, analysis and focused action. Its most salient aspect is its flexibility; it is multi-faceted with many variants, which can be driven strategically from the top down or by initiatives that have been identified at an operational level.

What is the focus for EPM?

The key focus for EPM should be on people & processes. This might seem to be a highly generic statement, but bear with me, and it will become clear how critical these two are to a successful EPM deployment.

I always find it useful for organisations to step outside the process under review, and challenge it for precisely what it currently is and what it ideally should be. An objective, apolitical and honest review will lead to an unbiased critique of the suitability of the process for both the business needs, and the people involved in those processes.  This allows for improvement opportunities to be discussed before designing the enhanced process, and gains employee buy-in.

Some may argue that this is a good time to engage in a benchmarking activity to ensure ‘Best Practices’ are adhered to.  I agree this is a useful step in the review phase, but first and foremost, the focus needs to be on the processes fitting the people in the organisation, because one size doesn’t fit all.

I referred to “Planning & Forecasting”, “Management Reporting” & “Analytics” earlier in this blog and, for many organisations, the EPM undertaking starts and ends with one or more of these processes, which leads me to wonder whether organisations are short changing themselves by not expanding the EPM journey.

The EPM journey

The EPM roadmap is the foundation for the journey. It will help prioritise EPM initiatives according to business requirements, and will determine how we use technology to achieve organisational goals. The roadmap helps key stakeholders develop a set of initiatives and work streams based on the level of maturity, resources, budget, and corporate strategy.

The benefits of an EPM roadmap can be summarised as follows:

Defining an EPM Roadmap: How far do we go?

An inherent part of the EPM roadmap will be to focus on the systems, both existing and aspirational. The question that is often asked is ”How do we determine which systems form part of the EPM roadmap?”.

In practice, organisations will have determined the key processes they are looking to improve before engaging on a roadmap exercise. Often the temptation is to limit the scope to the core systems being used with the processes, however, in order to maximise the benefits from EPM, it is important to open the scope to a wider range of systems that impact or are impacted by the processes identified.

In order to determine the systems scope for the EPM roadmap, I would advise using the Gartner PACE model to identify and differentiate the systems in play between Systems of Innovation, Systems of Differentiation and Systems of Record. The model can be explained as follows:



Using the PACE model, organisations are able to take a more granular approach to thinking about the systems. They are guided to review systems as individual functions within the overall EPM process. In this way, they can appreciate the impact to individual systems that form part of the EPM process and assess the effort required at the various levels to implement the EPM initiative.

An idea of the systems that can be placed at the various PACE layers is provided below:

I have identified the processes and systems. Now what?

The next stage in the EPM roadmap is to review the processes in terms of their current capability and how we would like them to be performed in the future.

I have used the headings listed below to help breakdown the analysis of key processes as part of the roadmap:


Benefits of the roadmap approach

Organisations who are willing to expand their EPM initiatives and take a deep dive into their processes and systems of record and innovation are far more likely to succeed in gaining the tangible benefits that ensue from a well-structured EPM roadmap.

In summary, the benefits of the roadmap approach are as follows:

  • Provides an evaluation of their current state, and an aspirational vision of their future state
  • Maps out the business needs, pain points and wish lists for future solutions
  • Creates tangible work streams with key priorities, phases and impacts
  • Helps build momentum for the project work streams
  • Ensures collaborative and interactive working sessions with key stakeholders
  • Assists in developing internal buy-in to the initiatives from the beginning

However, probably the most important thing that going on this journey provides organisations is a sound foundation for success!


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About the author

Raj Thapar

Director, Enterprise Performance Management

The overriding theme of my career has been helping organisations tackle complex financial consolidation, reporting and planning problems and creating effective EPM solutions. As a result, they are able to report accurate data efficiently and make more informed business decisions using an effective EPM strategy. I am able to draw upon my background as a qualified accountant, qualified lawyer and consultant to help me do this.

Over the last twenty years, I have helped organisations determine and realise their EPM strategy. I have worked across three continents, for clients such as AIA Group, Tata Global Beverages, Sumitomo Corporation and Old Mutual Plc. Although my clients come from a variety of sectors, I am currently focused on helping organisations within the Public Sector & Services sector, with a particular interest in Finance Transformation and the collaborative definition of the organisation's Record to Report strategy.

I have a keen interest in cutting edge technology and get a buzz out of leading teams develop complex consolidation, reporting and planning solutions.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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