“A detailed review of Astuity BPM’s functionality shows it to be comprehensive enough to address the key aspects of an organization’s consolidation, reporting, analytical and planning needs. I would suggest that those in the market for a cost-effective performance management consolidation and planning solution take a close look at Astuity BPM.” ~ Craig Schiff, President and CEO – BPM Partners
Brilliant Idea Software’s creative engineer, Russ Damske, along with his staff and collaborative partners, conducted extensive research in order to create the most flexible and easy-to-use software possible. Over the course of several years, they consulted with scores of people who have worked within this category of software. Input was received from colleagues across a broad spectrum of talents, including technicians, consultants, managers, marketers and salespeople. The end result of their collaboration is a robust, all-in-one planning, consolidations, financial reporting and analysis solution: Astuity BPM.
- Astuity BPM simplifies data collection using its Excel Add-in, or through flexible data entry screens. In addition, data can be loaded and extracted in bulk form using Excel spreadsheets.
- The various structures comprising an organization’s consolidation model can be easily imported using Excel spreadsheets. The model can be further fine-tuned using the flexible modeling windows. The same modeling windows can be used to sort, search, group, and validate all of the organization’s structures.
- Astuity BPM’s default consolidation and currency translation behavior will fulfill the vast majority of an organization’s consolidation and currency translation requirements. In addition, custom formulas can be created to address any exceptions to the default behaviors.
- Flexible Allocations are accomplished using built-in features, such as parent-level input accounts, user defined fields, formula functions that can access data from anywhere within the application, and low level pre-consolidation routines.
- Astuity BPM’s database is open, enabling users to leverage their investment in their existing reporting/BI tools ecosystem.
- Excel reporting and analysis is made easy using two families of Excel functions. The ability to drill-though to multiple upstream data sources is supported. Pivot tables are also available, bolstering Astuity’s already-comprehensive planning capabilities.
- Organization unit data can be locked and unlocked by users that are assigned the proper permissions. Enhanced security features allow the data to be secured by Organization Unit and Scenario, as well as at the input schedule level. Data access can be write enabled, read enabled, or denied entirely. Application function choices can be limited at the user or user group level.
Astuity BPM is the only performance management solution in its class to offer comprehensive planning functionality in addition to its powerful consolidation, financial reporting and analytical capabilities.
Executives know that the key to successful performance management is through the use of reliable planning and analysis tools. Astuity provides a number of those tools to facilitate all aspects of effective planning and analysis.
Planning features include:
- A procedural formula language that allows users to manipulate and analyze their data in countless ways. It affords them the ability to perform iterative calculations as well as any type of allocation. Calculations can branch off into sub-procedures, while testing for account/entity/scenario user-defined properties using “if” statements. Other options include “switch/case,” “for,” “do while,” and many other types of conditional testing and calculations.
- Allocation functions through:
- Parent entity account input capabilities.
- Formulas that facilitate data retrieval and calculations using data from any scenario, entity, or account.
- A procedural formula language that supports iterative calculations.
- Pre-consolidation routines to aid in the calculation of totals needed for calculating and performing allocations during consolidation.
- Flexible data entry screens that can be locked down for each user by Scenario/Entity/Time Period/Schedule combinations. Data can be bulk-spread using “Key Operators” across a selection of cells to add/sub/mul/div by absolute values and percentages. Allocate, copy, paste and randomize are also available via keystroke.
- Global data input functionality which can be made available to any and all reporting units.
- Excel Add-in through which:
- Data retrieval and updates can be made using two different function families for maximum flexibility.
- The ability to retrieve, manipulate, and analyze data via pivot tables is provided.
- Bulk data capabilities whereby:
- Data can be bulk-loaded and extracted via spreadsheets.
- A database manager is available to facilitate the copy/move/delete of data within and throughout the application.
- Flow control through user data locking.
One of the ways to facilitate data entry is through our familiar-looking Astuity BPM Excel Add-in.
For even more control, the built in data entry screens combined with account schedules make the manual data entry process easy. The data entry options are so flexible that you’ll find Astuity useful for Planning, Forecasts, or any other “Data Development” task. Alternatively, extracts from your source systems can be bulk loaded into Astuity BPM via an Excel spreadsheet, or you can use your existing ETL tool and load data directly into the Astuity database.
Shown below are the various ways that data is entered, stored, and retrieved in Astuity BPM. Familiarizing yourself with them is the first step to understanding how an Astuity application is structured:
- Scenarios in Astuity represent categories of data as blocks of time consisting of months, quarters and years. For example, one Scenario could be Current Year Actual data whereas another Scenario could be Last Year Actual. Other common scenarios include Last Year Budget, Next Year Budget, Next Year Forecast, etc. Scenarios are custom-defined according to your organization’s specific requirements.
- Schedules consist of accounts lists and configuration options. They can include both entry-level accounts, totaling accounts and accounts calculated by a formula. Schedules can accommodate various input needs: for example, one Schedule might focus on balance sheet accounts while another might focus on income statement accounts..
- Entities are the organizational units that make up the structure of your company. Base-level Entities are those at the lowest level, representative of entry-level subsidiaries, departments, or data adjustment units. Parent-level Entities are set up to consolidate the financial data of two or more base or parent entities, or to translate unit data from one foreign currency into another.
- Frequency pertains to the number of periods of data that will be displayed for a particular Scenario. For example, a Frequency of monthly will show twelve periods (months,) a Frequency of quarterly will show four periods of data (quarters,) and a Frequency of yearly will show just one period of data (total year.)
- Views are defined as periodic or year-to-date, and are only significant when displaying income or expense accounts. For example, a Schedule that shows Current Year Monthly data in a periodic view will show the income and expenses for individual months. The same schedule set to the year-to-date View will show cumulative income and expense account values for each month.
Sample Data Entry Schedule
Astuity BPM comes with a complete set of world currencies. Simply activate the ones that are needed.
Each account will have a currency rate type assigned to it; i.e., income statement accounts can be assigned a monthly average rate type while balance sheet accounts can be assigned a spot rate type. In addition to the typical spot and average rate types already included with Astuity, custom currency rate types can be created by the user for those accounts with unique currency translation requirements. For example, exchange rate valuations for property acquired in previous years can be assigned their own unique currency rate type. The default currency translation behavior can also be fine-tuned by creating custom formulas to address the exceptions.
Each entity has a currency assigned to it, allowing units in foreign countries to load, view, and report on financial data in their own currencies. The default currency translation behavior from one entity to another can be further customized by fine-tuning its translation formulas.
Currency translation happens automatically during the consolidation process, and triangulation is accomplished through the default application currency.
Typical Organizational Structure Allowing For Currency Translation
Consolidations are performed quickly and easily through any number of hierarchical paths.
During consolidation, inter-company balances are eliminated automatically wherever specified within the hierarchy. The default consolidation behavior can be fine-tuned for each entity by adding customized consolidation formulas. Consolidations can be executed on just those entities that are impacted, or on all entities. The consolidation window even provides an explanation as to why a particular entity may need to be re-consolidated.
Same Base Entity Data, Two Different Hierarchical Paths
REPORTING, MODELING, AND ANALYSIS
With Astuity BPM you can create a variety of financial models using your existing accounts and reporting units.
It’s easy to create custom account types, lists of accounts, account conversions, subaccounts, and account roll-ups. Customized formulas can be developed to calculate all key performance indicators and ratios. Users can easily create their own entity lists, entity conversions, subentities, and multiple entity rollups. Finally, the database manager can be used to copy data across scenarios to get a head start on forecasting.
The Astuity BPM Excel Add-in can fulfill the vast majority of an organization’s reporting needs, including drill-through. Each enterprise has its own ecosystem of data presentation tools already in place. The Astuity database is purposefully engineered to support third party report writers, enabling users to leverage the investment in their reporting/BI tools ecosystem. Astuity makes no assumptions about the capabilities of existing reporting and BI tools, other than their ability to access the common elements of the Astuity MS SQL Server database.
Astuity BPM’s Excel Add-in Makes Reporting, Modeling, and Analysis a Breeze
MINIMUM TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS
At Brilliant Idea Software, we recognize the need for inexpensive, purpose-built software designed to replace current spreadsheet planning and consolidation systems. The standard version of Astuity will work with the free versions of MS SQL server and MS Reporting Services. Less time spent maintaining “spreadsheet database” systems equates to more time spent on planning and analysis. Brilliant Idea Software’s team of experts, along with their consulting service partners, can help get you started by implementing an Astuity application at competitive consulting rates.
- Microsoft Windows 7 and up
- .NET 4.5 Framework
- For Reporting and Analysis, Excel 2010 and up
- Network connection
- Windows Server 2012 and up, OR
- Windows 7 and up
- SQL Server 2012 R2+, SQL Server 2012 Desktop Edition (for smaller organizations), SQL Azure (for cloud implementations)
- .NET 4.5 Framework