Which CPM Solution is Best for You? “Best Practices Package” vs. “Flexible Modeling Application

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Certainly, the out-of-the-box, plug-and-play package that is up and running in minutes must have a lower total cost than the flexible and highly configurable alternatives.

All of the decisions and expertise required to install the more sophisticated solution… they all add up to more dollars! Right? Not so fast.

When mired in the pain and inefficiency of manual spreadsheets or inflexible custom-coded solutions, customers might be wowed by the promises of a Best Practices Package to transform their process and alleviate their pain instantly, out-of-the-box.

Beware! The simple, brain-dead, easy-to-use, big-button user interface that in the sales demo appears to magically eliminate all of your problems come at great – and hidden – compromise in features and flexibility. This compromise becomes apparent only during rigorous prototyping, or after purchase and during deployment, when it’s too late to take corrective action.

But Flexibility Equals High Cost – Doesn’t It?

No! On the contrary! (aside: Why is it folks seem to equate flexibility with cost?).

EXAMPLE: Take A3 Modeling, whose ability to model your business in detail the way you run your business is, paradoxically, why its deployment cost is so low! Authoring in A3 Modeling is as flexible and intuitive as the Excel design process, and modifications are quick and intuitive. Also, A3 Modeling snaps onto any OLAP consolidation database without imposing design restrictions and without requiring you to write code, so no time is lost working around limitations. This last issue cannot be over-emphasized. When big IT projects fail, often the culprit is a key requirement that forces the vendor to go under the covers and start re-writing their software.

(aside from follow-up: Maybe the disconnect occurs because when folks hear the word “flexibility” they think “customization”, i.e., complex, technical programming…)

That the canned “out-of-the-box” solution is more expensive to deploy may seem counter-intuitive; however, in the real world where modeling your P&L, Balance Sheet and Inventory Turns is anything but a generic push-button exercise, the first thing you find with these products is the user interface cannot model the business rules and dimensions that are key to managing your business. So how are these needs addressed? This is not a happy situation. Either a) you pay for costly workarounds, b) you fund vendor customizations; or worst of all, c) you are forced back into spreadsheets!


Nobody has yet successfully “canned” the Corporate Performance Management process. So, until someone does, always look for a CPM solution that accommodates all nuances of your business process and financial logic – rather than a solution that force-fits you to its limitations.

About A3 Solutions and A3 Customers

A3 Solutions is the developer of A3 Modeling, the leading spreadsheet automation platform for web-based Enterprise Budgeting and Corporate Performance Management solutions. More flexible, with a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than competing products, A3 Modeling is available as a SaaS and On-Premise offering that tightly integrates with leading enterprise OLAP and relational database technology from Oracle/Hyperion and Microsoft.

To find out how American Airlines, Avon, Cox Communications, McDonald’s, Safeway, Toyota, Williams Sonoma, Verizon, and other Fortune 1000 enterprises use A3 Modeling to align their organizations, accelerate decision-making, and turn strategy into action, visit A3Solutions.com or call 1 (415) 302-0158.

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