First published on LinkedIn, click here to see it and comments added by others.
Following on from my article published in August (Gartner – the 2019 Magic Quadrant for Financial Planning and Analysis is out!) the 2019 report for Cloud Financial Close Solutions was finally released this week. If you have not received a link, it can be accessed here.
Make sure you read the whole report!
As previously advised, read the report in whole and do not just look at the MQ itself. Also, my previous comments on how Gartner comes to their MQ placings remain relevant.
What does the 2019 Report tell us?
There is not a great deal of change from the 2018 report in respect of vendors positioning in the Magic Quadrant (MQ). The noted moves are that both CCH Tagetik and OneStream are now positioned as leaders whilst Host Analytics is now just a visionary. We will dig into this further later in this article.
Let us start with the positives, there is significant value within the Gartner report as a whole. There is a lot of information and customer research that is very valuable to the consumer.
As per the planning MQ, Oracle comes out as the leader. The justification for this, “Oracle remains a Leader, due to its market traction with Oracle FCCS, its geographic, sales and product strategy, and its business model”. However, the cautions are (in my opinion) significant in their contradiction. Lowest quartile “for ease of implementation, ease of maintenance and upgrading, performance, and vendor satisfaction”. Two-thirds of reference customers would not recommend it – and these are the reference sites! And “..complaints from users of our inquiry service about SIs not keeping up to date with Oracle FCCS product releases”. In my interpretation, this is surely a low ‘ability to execute’, making Oracle a ‘Visionary’ at most.
In respect of the other products in the leaders quadrant, Workiva is an excellent product that has strong capabilities around the final mile of report assembly and disclosure (‘disclosure management’ as we describe it). Surely this makes them a ‘Niche Player’ at best using Gartner’s own definition as “they focus on a particular functionality”. The same can be said of Blackline, which again is an excellent solution for reconciliation management, close management and intercompany transactions. I know that both products can be integrated with others (e.g. Workiva with Anaplan), but this is not under consideration per the detailed definitions given by Gartner.
My Personal Thoughts
Like always, the specific requirements will define which product is the best fit for any particular organisation. For example, if you are a large organisation looking for complex financial consolidation capability then CCH Tagetik, OneStream and Oracle would be good starting points, especially if you are looking for a unified platform for planning as well. If your consolidation requirements are less complex then Host Analytics or Board International may work. Other notable absentees from the list are IBM, Anaplan, Adaptive Insights, Jedox, Prevero, LucaNet and Prophix – all of which have a consolidation offering and meet the Gartner criteria around supporting financial accounting processes to help achieve a corporate financial close.
If you are looking for (what I term) ‘Entity Close’ (my definition is the monitoring and orchestration of the ERP close activities, enhancing control and compliance and automation of high-volume reconciliations) then Blackline and Trintech are the dominant players. If you want report assembly and disclosure then look no further than Workiva with Certent being another notable absentee from the MQ.
This just shows the importance of understanding the problem that you are trying to solve, setting a vision for the future and identifying the right solution and approach – be that one platform or best of breed. Investing in expert advice during this phase can significantly de-risk this process and shorten the time-scales to selection and implementation.
From a consumer point of view, read the whole report and take time to understand what it is saying and what it is not saying. Put vendors on the spot if they quote the MQ and ask them to drill further into the strengths and, in particular, the weaknesses of their solution as detailed in the Report.
My final thought – come on Gartner, you can do better than this! As I said in my previous article, what Gartner need to do is to find another way of presenting the invaluable information they have gathered, one that is easier to consume and to interpret (or not to misinterpret). This will provide a far better report to the consumer.
If anyone from Gartner would like to comment on my article, I would welcome your thoughts!