Bringing Data Access and Analysis to all Businesspeople with Phocas Software
Meet the Authors
⇨ Organizations often struggle to manage and analyze the vast amount of data they produce, especially due to its complexity and the diversity of sources, such as ERPs, finance, sales, operational systems, and external parties.
⇨ Phocas Software offers a business planning and analytics platform that simplifies data management and enables financial and operational data integration.
⇨ Phocas’ solutions are tailored for end-users across the organization and combine budget forecasting and financial statements with operational data, even including data outside the current ERP environment.
In the current corporate landscape, aligning data across the enterprise for robust decision-making presents a continuous challenge for many organizations. The vast amount of data that organizations produce is not only difficult to handle, but also even more challenging to analyze due to data complexity or a lack of in-house expertise. Additionally, with businesses drawing data from various sources including ERPs, finance, sales, or operational systems, and external parties, complexities escalate and complicate the integration of comprehensive business data. Manual integration of data is an arduous and time-intensive task, often requiring specialized skills. Consequently, only a few people hold and comprehend this data, which creates a bottleneck when there is a need for quick decisions and effective analysis based on accurate, real-time data.
Integrating a business planning and analytics platform can significantly reduce the hassle of data management. Phocas Software provides a business planning platform that manages all your data and is compatible with more than 200 data sources enabling financial and operational data integration. Phocas is an all-in-one platform for business planning and analytics – connecting everyone with the information they need, when they need it.
Phocas products empower people to analyze data, manage rebates, build budgets and forecasts, and create dynamic custom financial reports. This platform stands out for its ease of use and intuitive accessibility even for those without extensive IT or ERP software expertise. It simplifies complex processes and enables integration and cross-referencing of financial data with analytical databases which is crucial for calculating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and identifying organizational trends and opportunities.
Phocas distinguishes itself by being human friendly allowing users with minimal technical background to easily access and extract necessary data, democratizing the use of ERP systems. Unlike conventional systems that demand high technical know-how and involve a steep learning curve, Phocas offers a straightforward, user-friendly experience that is particularly beneficial for its primary users – often line-level managers and staff, not IT professionals – who play a crucial role in making impactful business decisions who often struggle with extracting data from complex ERP systems.
As Nick Aversano, Customer Enablement Specialist at Phocas says, “Phocas is data agnostic; it is not limited to unlocking information from ERP systems. It allows for the integration of diverse data sources, creating powerful KPIs and predictive analyses. Phocas’ main strengths lie in its ease of use, quick implementation, and the capability to transform employees across various departments into analytic experts. This not only democratizes data within an organization but also leads to more effective and efficient business operations.”
Phocas excels in integrating both operational and financial data which is key to understanding the drivers behind numbers and identifying trends or opportunities, enabling a proactive approach to management. Phocas’ solutions are tailored for end-users across the organization and combine budget forecasting and financial statements with operational data, even including data outside the current ERP environment. “When it comes to time-to-value commitment for our customers, a critical part of the implementation and enablement processes involves understanding each company’s KPIs and their ’why’ for purchasing Phocas. This allows us to tailor the training specifically towards the company’s needs. However, it is important to note that the use of a BI tool like Phocas may be a new concept, and a new company may not clearly define their KPIs. To address this, Phocas provides out-of-the-box reports that focus on common performance metrics. One noteworthy aspect is our approach to budgeting and forecasting. Many companies may not have a detailed budget process due to the heavy lifting and resources that are required, and some are looking to budget for the first time and may not know where to begin. Phocas provides a solution with our B&F product that is simple yet very flexible and powerful, that enables companies to create budgets and forecasts with ease,” says Aversano.
SAP excels at managing transactional information, effectively gathering vast amounts of customer data. However, the challenge often lies in dissecting this information and ensuring it reaches the right people within the organization. While SAP is capable of running various analytic reports, this often requires a certain level of expertise or time commitment, which can place a strain on select individuals within the organization, turning them into key dependencies for report generation and data analysis. Phocas addresses this issue by reducing reliance on these key individuals and by offering a more accessible platform, allowing new members of the organization to quickly get up to speed with the necessary information, thereby enhancing the company’s performance. Phocas complements SAP’s robust data collection and transactional capabilities by simplifying data access and analysis which enhances overall efficiency, allowing for a more streamlined and less taxing approach to data-driven decision-making within organizations.
As more companies grasp the importance of AI and ML, there is also a noticeable increase in awareness regarding the necessity for a powerful data analytics solution. Phocas AI leverages natural language processing to interpret queries and extract data insights directly from transactional data integrated from the customer’s ERP and other data systems. This process removes the necessity for manual tasks like selecting specific dimensions, measures, and streams to respond to a query, simplifying data analysis for the customer.
Aversano adds, “The aspect of machine learning involves utilizing transactional data that resides within an ERP system. The challenge lies in how to effectively extract and leverage this data. Phocas enables the use of this data by facilitating its identification and cross-referencing with operational and financial data. This approach allows organizations to proactively identify trends and understand what’s happening within their operations, rather than passively waiting for events to unfold. Machine learning in this context is about easily gaining insights without the need for extensive reporting. Phocas is also actively developing its capabilities in AI. Current efforts are focused on enhancing the user experience, making the platform even more intuitive and easier for customers to adapt to. The aim is to simplify the process of accessing and understanding data, ensuring that users can quickly and efficiently extract the information they need, further streamlining their decision-making processes.”
Mercury Lighting, Canada’s largest independent lighting solutions provider, used SAP Business One for ERP, and struggled to mine value from its vast data, including client purchasing patterns and seasonal trends. Their data analytics needs were threefold: enhancing reporting efficiency for salespeople beyond monthly reports, gaining daily insights into profitability per salesperson and overall sales performance, and improving supplier vetting by measuring their impact on sales personnel. This highlighted the need for a more advanced data analytics solution to maximize their extensive data resources.
Mercury partnered with Phocas to equip their team with weekly sales reports, aiding in areas like boosting sales, cutting costs, and motivating the sales force. Leveraging data to steer business behavior, a task complicated by varying outputs from salespersons and vendors, Phocas enabled the company to extract data from SAP and organize it into an easily understandable format.
What’s in it for SAPinsiders?
Cultivate a data-driven culture: Initiate a culture of data-driven decision-making by clearly communicating to all team members, not just management, about the commitment to becoming a data-driven company. This includes providing tools like Phocas to simplify access to and navigation of data stored in the ERP system.
Empower data champions and sharing data: Identify and empower key individuals across various levels and departments to be data champions. Encourage widespread data sharing within the organization. Access to and sharing of data is crucial for a truly data-driven culture, as it fosters accountability and eliminates room for excuses or delays in decision-making.
Make data the universal language: Break down data silos by promoting the sharing of data and constructive challenges to it. Adopt a collaborative approach that integrates data into everyday communication and processes. This strategy eliminates the need for separate data analytics departments, as every team member becomes proficient in using data relevant to their role. Such an approach leads to better decision-making, increased productivity, and overall enhanced performance across the organization. Establishing a common data-driven language within the organization leads to decisions made on factual information rather than emotions.
Provide accessible tools for data analysis: It is crucial for management to equip their teams with the necessary tools to engage in data analytics. This step involves moving away from siloed data environments, allowing free flow of data across the organization, and ensuring that these tools are easy to use and understand.
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