“Project Orion” now in Beta status with general availability slated for 2Q18.
Host Analytics, the leading provider of scalable, cloud-based enterprise performance management (EPM) solutions, today introduced Project Orion, a revolutionary offering aimed at disrupting the EPM market by introducing the world’s first EPM product specifically designed for business users, as opposed to finance professionals.
Project Orion overturns the conventional wisdom that business users and finance professionals should use the same interface to an EPM system. For decades, EPM vendors have seen the end-user interface as a configuration problem – designing the system for the finance professional and then re-configuring it or “dumbing it down” for the business user. This approach has failed in the marketplace and is one reason why many business users still build plans and budgets in MicrosoftⓇ ExcelⓇ and then mail them to finance, creating data quality and security issues.
“For the past four decades, virtually all EPM systems have been built using a ‘by finance for finance’ approach,” said Dave Kellogg, chief executive officer at Host Analytics. “While this approach has resulted in great success for EPM within corporate finance departments, it has been a key limiting factor in EPM usage by business users. With Project Orion, we’ve addressed a huge problem that has been hiding in plain sight for decades simply by taking the Zen concept of shoshin (beginner’s mind) and applying it to EPM.”
“Project Orion is a great idea that will provide real value; I am surprised no one has addressed this before now,” said Craig Schiff, president and chief executive officer at BPM Partners, a privately held advisory services firm with an exclusive focus on business performance management (BPM) solutions.”
Bringing forth a new paradigm for EPM designed to address the needs of business users, Project Orion features:
- A consumer-grade user interface built for, and extensively tested with, business users. The Project Orion user interface makes it easy and intuitive for business users to use and provides a single interface for all planning, budgeting, and forecasting needs. This increases adoption of the EPM system, and accelerates the planning, budgeting, and forecasting process. It also increases collaboration in the process, and strengthens accountability for the numbers in the resultant plan.
- A task-oriented design that guides business users through the most mission-critical EPM tasks. Instead of overwhelming business users with empty grids that can cause “blank screen syndrome,” Project Orion guides users through key tasks, identifies variances, and highlights the impact of modifications to plans and forecasts. Future versions of Project Orion will further extend this capability – offering both prescriptive and predictive techniques – that provides recommended choices to fix budget anomalies and assist with course correction.
- A design that balances end-user autonomy with finance control. Project Orion provides finance with the ability to customize the interface with business drivers and assumptions that govern the options presented to business users. For example, Project Orion can be set up to automatically include employer benefit expenses, employer taxes, and office expense allocations for new hires or terminated employees. In this way, Project Orion empowers users to build budgets and forecasts in a manner that is guided by central finance rules.
“As a budget owner, I struggle with timeliness of information to make decisions,” said Tracy Eiler, chief marketing officer at InsideView, a software-as-a-service provider of marketing intelligence solutions. “I can’t wait months or even weeks, and relying on the finance team often limits my ability to make an impact to the business in a timely fashion. With Project Orion, I can quickly reallocate dollars and resources to drive maximum pipeline.”
Finally: An EPM Win/Win Solution for Both Finance and Business Users
With Project Orion, finance wins by driving higher engagement, collaboration, and accountability in planning and budgeting, while maintaining control over the budgeting process. This results in more accurate budgets and forecasts, and reduces the amount of time-consuming support needed to provide business users with the information they need.
Business users win by gaining real-time visibility into their budgets, as well as attaining more effective and efficient use of resources. Project Orion ensures that business users are not locked out of the finance process by giving them access to the data they need to create accurate budgets, and the confidence to make better data-driven decisions.
“Everyone complains about corporate budgeting, but Host Analytics is finally doing something about it,” said Robert Kugel, senior vice president at Ventana Research. “Project Orion enables budget owners to create their budget in terms of the ‘things’ they need to achieve their objectives – things like headcount, marketing campaigns and assets – and have the software automatically translate that into the budget line items that the finance department needs. Traditional planning and budgeting software does a great job for the finance department; Host Analytics takes it to the next level for everyone else.” He added, “When it comes to planning or reviewing performance, CEOs can now say: ‘Let’s talk about the business, not just the budget.’”
Currently available in Beta and expected to be generally available in 2Q18, Project Orion is the company’s latest innovation furthering connection and collaboration among finance and the business.