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Five frontrunners named in enterprise performance management software

Oracle, Anaplan, Tagetik, IBM and Adaptive Insights lead the pack in an evaluation of EPM software that examines functional capabilities and market presence of significant vendors.

Oracle, Anaplan Inc., Tagetik Software, IBM and Adaptive Insights offer enterprise performance management software...

that stacks up ahead of their rivals in areas such as budgeting and planning, financial reporting and analytics, according to Forrester Research.

Those five vendors lead the pack in the category, but SAP, Tidemark Systems, Vena Solutions, Host Analytics and Prophix Software are solid competitive options, according to the research firm's 16-page report that analyzes and scores the vendors as of the fourth quarter of last year.

The vendors were identified as the 10 most significant providers of enterprise performance management software in the report, which evaluated each on 36 criteria involving functional capabilities, technology, strategy and market presence.

The report, called "The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Performance Management, Q4 2016," is intended to help application development and delivery professionals and business leaders make the right choices for enterprise planning, business insight and reporting.

Each vendor has strengths

Paul Hamerman, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester and lead author of the report, said each vendor might match up with a certain user, depending on the user's needs.

Anaplan, for example, might appeal to a company focused on complex planning and forecasting use cases, not necessarily an entire enterprise performance management (EPM) suite. Tagetik is a good choice for companies with complex financial reporting, consolidation and disclosure needs, he said. SAP is succeeding at bundling its enterprise performance management software with its S/4HANA ERP and leveraging the vendor's real-time HANA database platform.

A midsize business might look more to Adaptive Insights or Vena Solutions than a bigger vendor, such as SAP or IBM, he said.

"All of these vendors have certain strengths that differentiate them in EPM," Hamerman said. "Each customer should use this evaluation as a tool to screen the vendors down to a few that will meet their requirements."

Within enterprise performance management software, Anaplan and IBM stand out for handling complex modeling, and IBM, Oracle, SAP and Tidemark Systems are strong and innovative in management reporting, the report said.

EPM becoming more vital

EPM, also known as corporate performance management, helps organizations plan, report and analyze business information. While it generally serves CFOs and other finance leaders, it is also increasingly being used in sales, marketing and human resources.

While about 80% of the vendors' customers currently use traditional on-premises enterprise performance management software, a powerful shift to cloud-based software is underway, and software as a service (SaaS) should be the primary deployment model in five years, the report said.

Hamerman said EPM is well-suited to deployment in the cloud, largely because of its regular updates by the vendor and its versatility. He said a massive shift to cloud-based applications is occurring in the entire software industry.

"It is faster to deploy and it is easier to maintain because of the persisting updating model. You turn over the job to the vendor of keeping software up to date. That is compelling for a lot of companies."

In describing the leaders, the report credited Oracle for "a well-articulated vision" for expanding the impact of enterprise performance management software beyond traditional finance uses to other areas, such as sales, product and marketing. With more than 1,500 EPM customers, Oracle provides good usability, flexible configuration and strong capabilities to manage planning and reporting, though the vendor's cloud-based products are still evolving, the report said.

Oracle sticking to roadmap

Hamerman said he likes Oracle's strategy to migrate its on-premises Hyperion EPM customers to the EPM Cloud family of products. "It is consistent with what Oracle is doing across its entire applications software business," he said. "Oracle understands that EPM is not just for finance, but can support a lot of uses, such as sales and marketing and HR."

Anaplan, based in San Francisco, offers flexible and scalable modeling for sales, marketing, HR, operations and other domains beyond finance, the report said. Anaplan's core strength is in budgeting, planning and forecasting, and its customers were very positive about using the platform.

Anaplan is less mature than some competitors in financial consolidation and management reporting, and it could improve on ease of use, mobile, social collaboration and visuals as it continues to execute, the report said.

Tagetik Software, headquartered in Lucca, Italy, and Stamford, Conn., offers a versatile platform that scales well for complex uses of planning, closing of the budget, consolidations, reporting and disclosure, Forrester said. Tagetik is best suited for multinational companies with intricate needs, and it's a particularly good pick for SAP ERP users because of its ability to run on SAP HANA.

IBM late to SaaS

IBM offers a well-rounded set of EPM functions and advanced technology across a somewhat discordant set of products, according to the report. A late mover to SaaS, IBM is now seeing strong traction with IBM Planning Analytics, and it boasts robust, scalable, and relatively intuitive planning and modeling capabilities.

Because IBM's enterprise performance management software stems from a series of acquisitions, it is less cohesive than some others, but its planning analytics and disclosure management compete well in their categories, the report said.

Adaptive Insights, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is pure-play cloud-based EPM software that is easy to use, with straightforward planning and modeling functions that make it faster and more economical to deploy than most alternatives. The vendor is working to broaden business features and offer more robust technology, but it currently lacks the features to handle financial consolidations for global companies or regulatory reporting.

Forrester said SAP has a strong technology vision and a large number of EPM customers, but lacks a coherent long-term product strategy as it balances on-site computing against cloud-based and other innovative investments, the report said.

SAP getting traction with new tools

SAP's new SaaS enterprise performance management software, called SAP BusinessObjects Cloud, and its creative Digital Boardroom management reporting tool are gaining some early adoption as the  vendor executes its strategy for real-time business, the report said.

EPM is critical for helping a business understand its past, present and future, the report said.

It helps businesses document the past with financial reporting on prior periods, financial consolidation of multiple lines of operations and legal entities and disclosure for purposes of regulatory compliance.

It assists a business in measuring and tracking the present with scorecards for key performance indicators, dashboards for determining progress in business outcomes, and graphics and visuals for understanding information and putting it in context.

The software also gives a leg up on the future by providing planning, budgeting and forecasting to manage finances, chart strategies and model changes.

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