An Ontario-based software firm isn’t a household name, but has been growing steadily for nine years in offering larger firms a better way to manage their accounts.

Prophix Software shows corporate performance management goes beyond annual budget

Budgeting is the bane of many business users’ lives. Collecting and compiling historical information, building budget templates, distributing the right bits to the right people and then retrieving and consolidating the results can be an experience that makes a root canal seem like a picnic by comparison.

Mississauga-based Prophix Software takes away some of the pain with its Corporate Performance Management (CPM) suite that integrates budgeting, forecasting, planning, reporting, financial consolidations, scenario management, dashboards and in-depth analysis capabilities, and automates many of the associated financial processes.

It took advantage of its recent user conference, Evolve, to both celebrate its 25th anniversary and preview its updated Detailed Planning module.

The software, sold as an integrated package rather than by module, allows customers to monitor their company’s financial and operational health on a daily basis if they so choose. It connects to data sources ranging from ERP and financial packages to Excel spreadsheets and text files.

Ten years ago, said president and CEO Paul Barber, people would just use CPM for annual budgeting. Now many customers use the software for forecasting and operational planning as well.

A Canadian cosmetics company, for example, uses it to help with inventory management and to forecast cash flow; as a seasonal business, it has to pay attention to what sells and when those sales are made, so the right stock is in the right place at the right time.

Denise Feece, director of operational accounting & corporate planning at Coleman Cable in Waukegan, IL has been using Prophix for over three years, and says that it has helped her company shorten its month-end closing cycle from four days’ effort by two people to two days and one person.  Now, she says,  the month end  “is pretty much a non-event.” It has also helped the company integrate four acquisitions in the last year.

Coleman now uses Prophix in areas ranging from planning and budgeting to production and sales. Feece says that every day she finds new uses for the software; her current focus is on the updated Detailed Planning functionality, which will allow the company to budget things like salaries and benefits on an employee by employee basis. She already sees uses for the same features in capital planning.

In the past, says Barber, only large companies could afford CPM. They considered it strategic (even though, he says, some had no idea what they’d use it for).

Today, CPM is used by smaller organizations to automate non-transactional processes in the finance department, including budgeting, monthly reporting, mid-year forecasting, scorecards, and operations planning.

Some sort of automation is becoming more of a necessity. Budgets used to be done by finance alone, but now, Barber points out, more and more people – and more and more data – are involved in the process. Workflow control such as that in Prophix streamlines the process and makes sure the right people get the right information, and that consolidations are performed on current data.

Quantifiable benefits can include shorter budget and reporting cycles. Customers report results like three month budget cycles cut to three weeks, and monthly reporting being completed in half a day rather than a week, thanks to automation.

There are also non-quantifiable benefits to CPM, according to Barber. Users get better validation of data, better analytics, and thus can make better decisions. He cited one organization with a rule that certain machinery was to be replaced every two years. When the company implemented a CPM product, it found that using its old manual systems, some branches had been sneaking in annual upgrades. It saved $300,000 from that insight alone.

Prophix may not be a household name, but it is slowly gaining industry recognition, enjoying nine years of continuous growth. It is rated a strong mid-market Niche Player on Gartner’s CPM Magic Quadrants for 2010 – 2012, and was winner of the 2011 Microsoft Impact Award as Independent Software Vendor of the Year.

It’s number 141 on Branham Group’s Top 250 Canadian ICT Companies for 2011.

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