Host Analytics cloud EPM software links sales, finance

EPM software vendor releases Host Analytics for Sales Planning, IDC sees growth in cloud finance tools and Social Security software fails to launch.

Host Analytics this week announced a cloud-based enterprise performance management (EPM) tool intended to improve integration and collaboration between an organization's finance and sales departments.

Host Analytics for Sales Planning helps ensure that regular updates to sales forecasts are incorporated in finance and accounting processes, allowing mid-quarter adjustments to the business and more predictability in revenue and spending, according to the Redwood City, California-based company. It is integrated with the Salesforce.com cloud-based CRM platform.

The software lets finance professionals analyze how sales orders will affect revenue and updates what-if models to provide early warning of changing business conditions. It also ties the sales plan to the corporate plan and automates creation of weekly sales forecasts.

For their part, sales managers get new forecasting and reporting tools, as well as the ability to model quotas and commissions at the individual and team levels. Territory planning integrates sales and marketing information to allow modeling and analysis of opportunities, pipelines and channels.

Like many of Host Analytics' products, the new application is intended to minimize over-reliance on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and move forecasting to a centralized cloud environment. Sales and finance managers can still use their best Excel formulas, formatting and metadata by importing them with the vendor's AirliftXL data-integration tool.

"Today's outdated mixing and matching of CRM and ERP data in Excel has made it far too difficult for sales and finance to collaborate and answer questions around revenue, forecasting, staffing and territories that are paramount to the success of the organization," Dave Kellogg, CEO of Host Analytics, said in a statement. "We are eliminating the sales and finance siloes."

IDC sees cloud shift for core financial applications

Worldwide revenue from financial accounting applications reached $17.2 billion in 2013, a 2.6% increase over the prior year, as momentum builds for cloud deployment, according to market researcher IDC in a report released this month.

"Demand for cloud solutions for the centerpiece of financial applications (e.g., general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable) is building as enterprises of all sizes look to upgrade and modernize outdated applications," said Christine Dover, IDC's research director for enterprise applications and digital commerce in a statement about the report. "The shift from on-premise applications with the big up-front license payment to cloud with its typically monthly subscription will cause a disruption for a while. But as the number of subscription clients grows, and the number of users accessing the cloud applications increases, the revenue will start to smooth out."

The report, "Worldwide Financial Accounting Applications 2014–2018 Forecast and 2013 Vendor Shares," contains historical and forecast data by geographic region and operating environment. IDC is based in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Social Security Disability's $288 million perpetual 'beta'

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) has spent $288 million on new software for processing disability claims that amounts to a five-year beta program that still does not work, according to a report by the McKinsey & Company consulting firm.

This week, members of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives accused the SSA of holding details of the McKinsey findings for more than a month until the new SSA commissioner could be confirmed by the House. "The project has been continually in 'beta,' meaning a pre-release version has been released and is currently being tested to evaluate whether it works and meets the system's business requirements," the lawmakers asserted in a press release. "According to McKinsey, 'for [the] past 5 years, Release 1.0 [is] consistently projected to be 24-32 months away.'"

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the Disability Case Processing System, which McKinsey said still has strong potential to drive cost savings. It recommended major changes to the project, including adopting centralized management and agile development methodologies.

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