What is the Forever Implementation model of Traditional FP&A Software?

October 4, 2022

First, we need to look at a traditional business software implementation. While some SMB solutions claim to require minimal implementation effort, we know most larger operations cannot run their business on off-the-shelf FP&A software. Even two operations in the same industry cannot usually use the same industry-specific models. Each operation may have very different approaches, goals, and processes they need to analyze and plan for.  If you are promised lightning-quick implementation, there will be no time to understand the unique requirements of your business. Instead, you will adopt whatever pre-built solution the vendor offers. That may be acceptable to some CFOs but unacceptable to many others.

Professional services are a key part of your success roadmap to reach your objectives with your enterprise software. Implementation services are part of the equation. Let’s say your implementation is x months. The expectation is to reach a go-live event. This is the stage where your implementation project is considered delivered, and your team can begin using the new system for its intended purposes in production. A new FP&A software can easily last 5-10 or more years post-go-live.

A 3-4 month initial implementation for years of value doesn’t sound like a bad deal at all.

What if you had to manage a Forever Implementation instead?

There is still a go-live event for the sake of formality. Still, in reality, in the Forever Implementation, the professional services clock never stops ticking, and the monthly invoices for highly expensive and specialized resources keep arriving month after month - forever.

With a Forever Implementation expect high dependence on perpetual certified technical resources. These resources can be external consultants billing by the hour or internal FTEs you have to hire specifically to support the new system. Either way, you’re stuck with a Forever Implementation.

If you plan to run your new FP&A platform for the next five years, the labor costs associated with your Forever Implementation will make the annual product subscription and initial implementation cost feel almost free.

Nearly all traditional financial planning platforms catering to enterprises with complex requirements will attach you to the Forever Implementation model.

Now, investing in expensive and highly certified technicians to support the success of your financial planning platform is not all negative. In fact, if you have the luxury of an unlimited budget, then it's all positive. Your FP&A Platform supports critical processes and the forever support provided by specialized technicians should give you great confidence.

The only point is to understand what you’re buying. If you have a massive budget and investing in the Forever Implementation model is aligned with your expectation, then pull the trigger on that platform. In that event, the actual Total Cost of Ownership of your project is already baked in. Here’s a hint, it will be 90-95% labor as it reaches the 5-year mark.

The challenge is the marketing of today’s business applications makes all traditional enterprise platforms come across as super easy to use. Business applications originally launched decades ago normally carry aging architecture beneath a modern user interface. They usually seldom are easy to use as advertised. As a result, many CFOs are being misled into signing up to deploy platforms that require a Forever Implementation when they instead expect to have a modern and self-service platform post-go-live. The gap between reality and expectation is what CFOs should be careful with before signing on the dotted line. This gap can often annihilate your expected project ROI if large enough.

The CFO has many other platforms as part of their finance and accounting tech stack that they need to support. If every one of these platforms comes with a Forever Implementation, the labor costs would quickly spiral out of control. For most organizations, it's important to pick their battles.

If your budget has no bottom and you can throw all the FTEs and Specialized consultants at the problem then go for it. Unlimited budget solves all problems. If costs are not a concern, then who wouldn’t want to have highly specialized resources available at all times?

Most CFOs don’t experience the luxury of an unlimited budget. They need to be effective and careful in how they deploy systems that require ongoing and high maintenance to support.

How can you quickly check if the financial planning platform you’re evaluating comes with a Forever Implementation?

One easy way is to navigate to the vendor’s website and search for mentions of certified product programs for solution architects and other related roles. Use common sense. If the vendor’s certification program requires a decent amount of pre-existing technical background or is so detailed that it resembles a Master's Degree, then you know you will likely be signing up for the Forever Implementation model. In summary, if the product certification program leans towards being advanced, expect to pay a fortune in labor during the lifecycle of this product. Capture this cost accurately so that your ROI and product decision is based on real estimates.

Some vendor websites that market Enterprise Software for Financial Planning try to accomplish two incompatible things at the same time. On one side the easy button will be highlighted over and over again, but then you land on the page of the Specialized Product Certifications. Next, you uncover those certified resources command salaries of $150k to $200k + as FTEs and substantially more by the hour as outside consultants at $250+/hour rates.

You can perform a Web Search on open job reqs requiring these certifications to understand how much these resources will cost you.

FinLogic.io is the only FP&A Platform designed from the ground up to scale to address complex enterprise planning challenges without the Forever Implementation costs.

With FinLogic.io you can address the following requirements:

  • Analyze millions of data points in real-time 
  • Upload unlimited data including transactional level detail 
  • Centralize all data in powerful multidimensional databases (data cubes)
  • Manage multiple currencies and multiple entities 
  • Address Accounting Automation, Reporting, and FP&A processes within the same platform
  • Launch unlimited interconnected data cubes 
  • Plan at any level imaginable
  • Load 1000s of users into the platform 
  • Craft workflows to guide your team through the most complex processes 
  • and much more

Visit Finlogic.io to learn more and schedule a demonstration.