Today I’m happy to announce the release of Adaptive Suite 2017.1. This is our first of three releases this year, and it extends our ease of use, puts more power in the hands of modelers, and makes it faster to plan and adapt.
These capabilities further enable finance and business users to adopt a process we call active planning—planning that’s collaborative, comprehensive, and continuous. In short, the updates in 2017.1 will help FP&A teams better manage their business.
For example, customers asked us to help their non-finance business users be able to quickly navigate the planning process without having to be system experts. Why is this important? With full business partner participation in planning, budgeting, and forecasting, corporate performance management becomes more of a strategic process for establishing goals, course correcting to achieve those goals, and moving the needle on business performance.
That’s where the new Process Guide enters the picture. Our thinking behind this feature? Let’s guide them one step at a time. The feature is designed for business users, making collaboration among operations and finance professionals easy and part of everyday planning. Real usability generates greater buy-in and helps produce better overall plans, budgets, and forecasts.
Step-by-step guides for business users
With the new Process Guide, your finance team can create step-by-step guides for business users, specific to their roles and the task du jour, with links directly to the location in the model where their input is required. This makes it quick and easy for occasional or new users to participate in each new budget cycle. It ensures that business users complete all the planning steps requiring their attention—in a timely fashion. It also helps them avoid making mistakes in your model because it takes them to, and has them work on, a section that only pertains to them. This provides a much easier environment for everyone to collaborate as a team—and the process is easy and fast.
New Visual Model Overview
Another new feature is the Visual Model Overview, which I liken to “Google Earth.” The overview offers a way to visualize a model—to see how it’s all connected and how data flows in a single graphical view. Google Earth, of course, provides the ability to pan, zoom, rotate, and tilt the view of the Earth.
With the new Visual Model Overview, users can see a graphical representation of their business model. It dynamically updates with the version and level of the model you select. You can analyze your business model and data flows without clicking through multiple pages. Users can actually grasp the overall planning process quickly. Just like Google Earth users can zoom in on a particular neighborhood and see how everything connects together, and then zoom back out to see how the streets and highways connect to form a town and how they connect with bordering cities.
The beauty of these capabilities is that new administrators can come up to speed with ease and learn the business model in little time compared with the investigative work typically required with spreadsheets and other planning software.
Combining ease of use with powerful capabilities
Finally, our customers, like owners of muscle cars, can’t get enough horsepower and handling to go with it. The same goes for planning software. With 2017.1, we’re providing a powerful octane boost to finance users. For example, the new advanced formula expressions capability enhances the rich palette of calculations and logic available in the solution. This allows model owners to streamline the development of complex calculations across the entire suite.
That, coupled with the new ability to declare account level formulas, enables users to rapidly express and maintain calculation logic with an “express once, apply everywhere” approach, dramatically increasing model development efficiency. With these advanced formula expressions users get the power they want for acceleration with the handling for the agility to plan and adapt quickly.
Of course, it’s fair to ask: Don’t the costly, high-end solutions also promise better results through richer capabilities? The expensive legacy planning solutions and generic modeling platforms indeed promise the ability to accommodate increasing numbers of planning participants, along with the ability to model more complex business processes.
The challenge is that legacy systems built for sophisticated modeling actually limit the broad engagement of planning participants. Generally, the more sophisticated capabilities can be exponentially more difficult to use. Indeed, these technologies often require professional expert IT assistance, which limits usage within finance and business operating units.
And that’s why I’m so excited about release 2017.1. It will really and truly help FP&A teams step up their finance game.
Sean Rolling is vice president, product marketing at Adaptive Insights.