Over the past few years, a slow and steady change has been taking place in the EPM/CPM, analytic, and management reporting landscape. For reasons that range from advancement in technology to vendor apathy, once-dominant players have begun to lose market share to new companies that are offering real solutions to issues that have plagued these systems for decades.
Setting up an enterprise EPM/CPM and management reporting system used to require an army of consultants, installation of a suite of disparate and loosely integrated applications, and a unique (and costly) skill set to modify, maintain, and administer. Implementations could run into the millions of dollars and could easily last a year or longer. Many times clients were sold on the promise of a “unified” suite that included specialized tools to handle each component of the financial close, management and operational reporting, and the budgeting/forecasting cycle, only to be disappointed with the lack of real integration, multiple points of failure, reconciliation nightmares, and a tendency for users to fall back on the one or two tools in the suite they were familiar with, leaving management scratching their heads as to why they just spent so much time and money to build a glorified calculator.
We are now seeing truly unified applications built from the ground up that offer scalability, a single data source, and a much smaller footprint, resulting in a much lower TCO and an improved experience from an end-user point of view. Instead of trying to make decades-old technology work on new infrastructure options as legacy vendors have attempted, these new offerings come built with the future in mind, giving them the scalability and flexibility needed to navigate the constantly changing technological landscape.
Throughout it all, one piece of functionality has proven time and again to be the most-used and critical for day-to-day analysis and reporting: data aggregation across multiple dimensions with multiple hierarchies per dimension, preferably with an easy, familiar Microsoft Excel-based front-end. Essbase has been a reliable friend to everyone from junior level analysts up to CFOs for the past 25 years. In companies large and small across the globe, it has become a critical part of many users’ daily tasks, and it is not uncommon to hear that they could not do their job without it.
This is the environment in which Casabase was conceived. Frustrated by many aspects of a tool they had spent much of their professional lives building solutions with, the founders of Casabase Software decided there was a better way and went about building it. The result is an application that delivers the most important functionality required by users, backed by an incredibly-simplified infrastructure, amazing performance, easy administration, and a TCO unmatched by any other solution available today.
- An aggregation engine built on a relational database that delivers instantaneous aggregated values across multiple dimensions and multiple hierarchies within those dimensions. There are no consolidation processes that must be run and no waiting for data to aggregate after loading. Once data is loaded into Casabase, it is immediately available at the top of every hierarchy.
- A familiar, intuitive interface for building retrieves in Excel. Users coming from Essbase will feel right at home with Casabase. Those coming from other tools with more-restricted ad-hoc ability, such as Power Pivot, will be amazed at what they’ve been missing.
- Integrated mapping functionality that improves upon the most frustrating aspects of mapping tools, giving users a solution that is easily-maintainable and outperforms offerings by other vendors.
- A single, Excel-based user interface for both end-users and administrators. Everything needed to use and administer Casabase can be accessed via the Excel Add-In.
- A currency conversion model that provides an instantaneous look at your data converted from local currency to USD, as well as currency neutral (actuals as last year’s rates, budget at forecast rates, etc.).
- Write-back functionality for submitting data to Casabase directly from Excel.
Let’s look at each of these in detail:
Because Casabase is built on a relational database, there is no more “black box” that you load your data into just to see aggregated values. You have complete, unrestricted access to all your data at any time, making extracting data from Casabase a breeze. Integrations with other tools are likewise seamless and require no specialized connectors. Casabase is a relational database, full stop.
Casabase makes full use of the most widely-used data analysis platform on the planet – Excel, of course! Rather than restricting how users interact with their data, Casabase makes it quick and easy to work with data of all shapes and sizes. The free-form nature of retrievals in Casabase allows users to avoid the restrictions imposed by highly-structured tools like pivot tables. This means getting your work done faster and more accurately.
Say goodbye to opaque mapping mechanisms that are impossible to understand after they’ve been set up by your consultants! In fact, you may be ready to say goodbye to your consultants after you’ve tried Casabase’s mapping functionality. It’s more powerful, transparent, and inherently auditable than any other tool on the market today. Data can be mapped at any time – before loading or after. There’s also no special syntax or yet another language to master.
This is also true of the interface. Why force users into a custom program for analysis (which users will promptly export to Excel anyway) and a completely separate one to administer? You already spend most of your day in Excel. Why not administer your metadata/data in the same place you analyze and report on it? A simple concept that no other aggregation engine has fully embraced.
Why do common tasks, such as currency conversion, require a re-implementation with every application you build? Such a common, simple requirement should be default functionality in any aggregation engine, especially one commonly used by finance. Essbase attempts to solve this problem in one of two problematic ways: 1) copy data to another scenario, version, or entire dimension, convert the data, and aggregate, or 2) create complex MDX member formulas that convert the data at the bottom level so it will properly aggregate. With Casabase users can choose to have all currency conversion done dynamically and instantaneously. Not only does this save time for end users (no more waiting for data to be copied, converted, and aggregated!), but it also results in a smaller data footprint because multiple versions of the same data are not being copied around and aggregated separately. Fewer points of reconciliation mean fewer reporting errors.
And, of course, what aggregation engine would be complete without a quick, easy way for users to send data back to the system. Completely controllable by the administrator, write-back functionality provides the flexibility and the speed to make critical data updates to the system when time is of the essence.
Bring your data home to Casabase!
The founders of Casabase Software have made it their mission to provide a tool that allows you to focus on what is important to your business: your data and the story it provides. Stop struggling with expensive, outdated tools and bring your data home to Casabase!