January 2016

When someone is really absorbed in studying an Excel spreadsheet, you could almost mistake them for being hypnotized. For a professional hypnotist like Paul McKenna, however, Excel is captivating for reasons that have little to do with financial spreadsheets, sales or marketing.

The 52-year old raised eyebrows in a recent interview with The Guardian newspaper where he confessed that he took a highly unusual route to deciding who would make an ideal choice of life companion:

I’ve dated a lot of beautiful women. A friend pointed out I didn’t actually like them, and advised me to make an Excel spreadsheet to find out who I really loved. It came down to Kate [Davey, his long-time PA]. We’d worked together for many years; thankfully she felt the same way and now we’re engaged. I feel I’ve learned more with her in the last three years than the rest of my life.

Using Excel he was able to really get at the core of what McKenna was looking for—and now, he has that omnipresent tool to thank for his happily ever after. Continue reading These Extreme Use Cases of Excel Spreadsheets Just Prove Why They’ll Survive

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Vena Solutions credits its approach, innovation and team for record sales and customer growth in 2015.

January 28, 2016 (Albany, NY) –Vena Solutions, the fastest growing cloud-based provider of corporate performance management (CPM) software, today announced that 2015 was another record year for the company, with sales more than doubling from 2014. Fuelled in large part by the company’s approach to embracing Excel as an enterprise-class business solution, Vena’s 2015 highlights include (all figures Y/Y):

  • 170% growth in software sales bookings
  • 110% growth in annual recurring revenue (ARR)
  • 88% growth in enterprise customers

“These results put us squarely on track with our ambitious growth and market leadership goals,” said Don Mal, CEO of Vena Solutions. “They clearly establish Vena as the fastest growing vendor in the performance management space.”

In addition to its focus on enterprise-grade Excel, key drivers behind Vena’s exponential growth rate include: Continue reading Vena More than Doubles Sales for Another Record Year

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We all probably accept the old adage that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. But what if you can’t avoid managing it – and have to take at least some steps towards trying to measure it?

It’s not that finance teams lack key performers indicators, necessarily. It’s just that, as a recent report from the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) organization recently pointed out, there are some areas that may be ignored at a CFO’s peril. graphy

The report, The Digital Finance Imperative: Measure and Manage What Matters Next, was based on more than 800 survey responses as well as one-on-one-interviews with finance leaders, and it showed that less than half of companies are looking at things like how effective their digital marketing is today or whether customers are engaging on social media.

The report’s authors suggest this isn’t due to a lack of willpower or diligence by finance departments so much as not having the right tools:

To measure intangibles, businesses must make connections between financial outcomes and pre-financial measures that they can use as leading indicators, usually based on a causal relationship or correlation. However, can businesses assemble and analyze the data needed to measure intangibles? Continue reading The Connection between Finance KPIs and Value Drivers All CFOs Must Make

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It’s one of those quotes that’s been attributed to many different people, but whoever said it was onto something: “When everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.” In fact, you could say the same thing about key performance indicators.

Everyone knows key performance indicators (KPIs) are important, but that doesn’t mean organizations always achieve agreement about what those KPIs should be. Even in finance departments, this can still be an issue. A case in point: Computer Business Review recently published some interesting stats from the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) organization that suggested CFOs need to find KPIs that will not only look at profit and loss but intangible assets as well:

“Around 76% of the respondents believe the top value drivers for their businesses is customer satisfaction, while 64% gave priority to business processes . . . However, only 15% of the respondents reported that they have dedicated finance (expertise) in their organization to fully engage with regards to ‘providing non-financial measures of progress towards strategic intent’.”

A post on Innovation Enterprise does a good job of summing up the more traditional finance department KPIs. These include overhead rate, cash flow, and profit-to-earnings ratio, among others. Because of the disparity of this data, tracking these metrics in Excel has been a standard practice for years, and advancements in cloud-based corporate performance management (CPM) tools only make it easier and more powerful to centralize and report on. And there are even more metrics outside of finance where a reconsideration of KPIs could be transformative for businesses.

But the flip side here is the risk of information overload by not being selective enough in the KPIs you need to track most. Put another way, if every metric is a KPI, then none are KPIs. Here are a few ways to get the best of both worlds: Continue reading 3 Ways to Start Thinking Differently About KPIs

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Unless they’re lucky enough to be jetting off to a sunny location this winter, it’s unlikely you’ll see most North American CFOs hitting the links for the next few months. And that may leave some organizations breathing a huge sigh of relief.

Fortune magazine recently reported on the results of a U.S. study that looked at the recreational habits of nearly 400 financial leaders over a four-year period. Specifically, the research was trying to find a correlation between the number of times CFOs were playing golf and the way they managed to steer the financial direction of the company which employed them.

The short version? Being the Jordan Spieth of the finance department can be detrimental to the bottom line:

The report found that the more CFOs golf, the more “accrual errors, discretionary accruals, and unexplained audit fees” are found in their work. It also found that earnings conference calls tend to be shorter with lower quality information. In sum, the more a CFO golfs, the worse a firm will likely perform. Continue reading Why CFOs Really Should Spend More Time on the Golf Course

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