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SAP poaches longtime Oracle CPM software customer

After 15 years, CKE Restaurants dumped Oracle Hyperion CPM software in favor of SAP BusinessObjects' Planning and Consolidation, just the latest in the CPM battle between the two.

In the war for corporate performance management (CPM) market supremacy, SAP just scored a significant victory.

CKE Restaurants, which has used Hyperion CPM software to help plan, forecast and report its budgets for more than 15 years, recently decided to dump the Oracle-owned technology in favor of the SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation application.

CKE owns or franchises more than 3,000 restaurants in 42 states and 14 countries, most notably the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fast-food chains. Tom Lindblom, a vice president and chief technology officer at CKE, said the budgeting process with Hyperion simply became too bloated for the company's comfort.

"It was a heavily manual process," Lindblom said. "Every time we wanted to do a forecast run or budget run, it took several days of effort."

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That's because only finance department specialists used the complex Hyperion software, he said. Regional managers in the field actually put together their budgets with Excel spreadsheets. Once completed, managers would email their budgets to the finance department, which then had to aggregate and analyze them in Hyperion.

Lindbolm said he wanted to find a less complex CPM suite that his regional managers could use in order to eliminate the need to email reports throughout the company and to give the finance department access to near-real-time budgeting data.

The SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidating suite fit the bill, he said. For CKE's managers, the software works as an Excel add-on, meaning they can continue working with their budget figures in spreadsheet form. But because the software is part of a unified suite, the finance services department can see changes in budget forecasts as soon as they are made and can more easily test what-if scenarios.

As a result, CKE expects the budgeting process itself to be significantly shorter once the system goes live, Lindblom said. CKE currently has 25 pilot users accessing the software and expects to roll it out to 200 users company-wide in the first quarter of next year.

The customer win comes as SAP and Oracle continue to battle for top billing in the CPM market. Forrester Research judged Oracle's CPM software as the best on the market, followed closely by SAP, in its most recent business performance solutions Wave report.

Oracle took significant strides in its CPM capabilities when it acquired Hyperion in 2007, and now SAP is fighting back. In its push to overtake Oracle in the CPM market, the German software maker recently announced that its software is now compliant with the Kaplan-Norton Balanced Scorecard framework, one of the most widely used CPM methodologies among large enterprises.

SAP and Microsoft also announced last month that Microsoft will now support the Business Objects Planning and Consolidation application on Microsoft platforms. Until earlier this year, Microsoft offered its own corporate forecasting and budgeting software in the form of PerformancePoint Server. After lackluster sales, Microsoft announced in February that it was scrapping the product and integrating its features with SharePoint Server.

In addition to its ease of use for non-finance workers, SAP's software offered CKE better licensing options than Oracle, Lindblom said. Specifically, SAP charges CKE less for licenses for its managers who use the software only a couple of times a month than it does for licenses for finance users who access the software more often. Lindblom said that Oracle's licensing model made no such distinction between users.

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