A Financial Dashboard Rollout: Considerations and Lessons Learned

  • by Anurag Barua, Independent SAP Advisor
  • June 17, 2014
Learn how a large enterprise benefited from the rollout of a customized mobile financial dashboard integrated with Oracle’s Hyperion Financial Management System (HFM), SAP Business Warehouse, and SAP BusinessObjects dashboards and mobility.
Learning Objectives

Reading this article you will learn how to:

  • Adopt a lean agile methodology to roll out a customized mobile financial dashboard
  • Avoid pitfalls during the rollout of a financial dashboard
Key Concept

A financial dashboard displays an enterprise’s most summarized financial data in the form of key performance indicators (KPIs) combined with visual components that foster effective decision-making.

Consider a scenario in which a Fortune 200 global enterprise (to be referred to as XYZ Inc.) has a multitude of technologies supporting business operations. This company constantly acquires other companies, and therefore the number of systems and technologies continues to expand. Although the company uses many SAP applications — mostly in supply chain and business intelligence or analytics — it also uses applications from SAP’s competitors or technologies from companies that collaborate with SAP to provide solutions.

For example, the financial planning and analysis (FP&A) department uses Oracle’s Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) for budgeting and consolidations. XYZ had also invested heavily in SAP BusinessObjects over the last two to three years in addition to its continued investment over the past many years in the upkeep of SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW).

Both business and IT had been acutely aware that the company had barely realized the combined potential of these tools. My company stepped into this void to work closely with our stakeholders both in finance and IT to identify, propose, design, and deploy an application that would satisfy almost all the criteria that these departments had set forth. This application is the mobile financial dashboard that my team built for the FP&A users.

I share with readers the solution my team proposed to FP&A personnel, how we established a compelling business case, the advantage of adopting a lean agile methodology, and the lessons my team learned.

The Approach: A Hybrid of HFM and SAP

When my team and I approached senior leadership in FP&A to completely understand its requirements, we found it wanted an aggregated view of the data in the form of key performance indicators (KPIs), easy access to these KPIs, disseminating these KPIs in a centralized manner, and the ability to visualize and drill down for deeper analysis. The KPIs in question included sales or revenue, SG&A, days sales outstanding, and working capital turns.

XYZ used a manual approach of downloading the KPIs into a spreadsheet and emailing them to the desired audience or creating PowerPoint slides and adding commentary on deviations or items that needed attention. Another important fact that came to light was that the FP&A team was not concerned about the technology that we would use to deliver our solution. This was not surprising because most business users across various industries and geographies have the same attitude toward technology: they don’t care as long as it gives them what they need.

 

Anurag Barua

Anurag Barua is an independent SAP advisor. He has 23 years of experience in conceiving, designing, managing, and implementing complex software solutions, including more than 17 years of experience with SAP applications. He has been associated with several SAP implementations in various capacities. His core SAP competencies include FI and Controlling FI/CO, logistics, SAP BW, SAP BusinessObjects, Enterprise Performance Management, SAP Solution Manager, Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC), and project management. He is a frequent speaker at SAPinsider conferences and contributes to several publications. He holds a BS in computer science and an MBA in finance. He is a PMI-certified PMP, a Certified Scrum Master (CSM), and is ITIL V3F certified.

Anurag will be presenting at the upcoming SAPinsider BI 2017 conference, June 14-16, 2017, in Amsterdam. For information on the event, click here. He also will be a presenter at the SAPinsider Managing Your SAP Projects 2017 conference, October 24-26, 2017, in Copenhagen. For information on that event, click here.

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