Information Technology departments and technology companies face similar Project Financial Management challenges. From a strategic perspective, senior management must make the most optimal use of IT annual budgets – aligning commitments with organizational strategic goals, while at the same time keeping the “lights on.” An IT governance process is typically used to control the project selection and approval process, and is highly dependent upon an effective approach to planning and forecasting future work.
Meanwhile, complex multi-year IT projects demand much of the organization’s resources and attention. Project expenditures must be carefully recorded and must comply with the organization’s software capitalization rules. Close tracking of project performance is necessary for ensuring compliance with annual budgets. And for some IT organizations, expenditures must be charged back to the funding lines of business.
From a systems perspective, IT organizations often maintain project and financial data in several different sources: schedules and progress are maintained in enterprise or desktop project management systems, hours worked are captured in timesheet systems, financial actuals are stored in ERPs or GLs, and spreadsheets are typically used for financial planning, forecasting, and reporting. There is often no link between strategic plans and project execution, leaving the organization unable to react quickly to issues and trends. The lack of true integration also limits auditability and accountability.
EcoSys EPC (Enterprise Planning & Controls) is an IT financial management software solution designed to addresses these complex and varied issues with an easy-to-use web application. The EPC platform allows for the maintenance and integration of complex data at varying levels of detail, tying strategic planning to project delivery in one seamless solution.
Budgeting and Planning
EcoSys EPC provides robust features for annual budget planning, budget requests, and approvals. Budgets can be managed top-down, from funding organization lines of business, down to programs, projects and phases. Budget allocations can be based on the latest project forecast information, as well as from requests made by project managers.
Allocations can also be aligned to strategic goals and priorities, and various what-if scenarios can be modeled. Revisions to budgets can be made at any time, such as for mid-year budget re-planning efforts. In addition, all non-project work, such as the IT help desk and network support can be budgeted and managed alongside projects, providing an overall picture of all IT costs.
Project Portfolio Management
Projects must be planned and prioritized based a number of factors, including cost, strategic priority, and organizational capacity. EPC’s advanced PPM capabilities allow organizations to define any number of project evaluation criteria, and then aids in the selection of projects. Balance available resources against project demands, and then track project execution within a single enterprise system.
Program and Project Forecasting
EPC provides the ability to consolidate program, project, and operational forecasts from project management/scheduling systems and ERPs and give project cost managers the ability to maintain financial forecasts by accounting periods and financial categories. Using a simple spreadsheet-like web interface, managers can view and update the latest forecast information, produce reports, and analyze trends.
EPC supports the implementation of software capitalization according to the rules and standards established by an IT organization. Capitalization rules can be set to differentiate costs by type of project, expenditure category, type of resource, and phase. Expenses can be depreciated and viewed as both amortized and cash-out-the door cash flows.
Additional mandatory and optional documentation can also be associated with project financials for compliance with auditability standards. All historical data is locked-down and changes can only impact future periods, unless a formal adjustment is made.
Flexibly manage charges of expenditures from IT programs, projects, and operations, to one or multiple business lines that are providing the funding. EPC allows for the percentage of project spend charged back to business lines to be defined as top-down percentage splits, or be based on actual bottom-up categorized transactions. Funding managers can chose to view project actuals by proportional actual values per funding business line.
EPC also provides for the generation of chargeback transactions that are fed to the General Ledger on a schedule that coincides with the financial calendar.
Most IT organizations adopt a supply and demand model for workforce planning by which a fairly fixed supply of labor must be optimally deployed to fulfill the highest priority demand coming from the business lines. EPC provides tools to automate this process, allowing for the designation of top-down resource plans, and aligning them with forecasted bottom-up resource allocations.
Data Integration and Performance Measurement
Flexible performance analysis and reporting are key requirements for IT finance managers. EPC provides the ability to consolidate, reconcile, and view actual expenditures from multiple sources (ERPs, GLs, Timesheets, and Project Management systems). Accruals can also be managed via EPC.
Flexible multi-dimensional reports and graphs can be easily created in EPC without the involvement of technical or administrative staff. Users can analyze top-down organizational budgets and strategy versus bottom-up forecasts and actuals and view variances and trends by period.
EcoSys EPC provides a fully audited system of record for central management of all budget workflow transactions, regular snapshots of the latest project forecasts, and visibility into all project actuals. Through its extensive set of controls and integrated functions, EPC facilitates support for Sarbanes-Oxley and SOP 98-1 compliance.
In using EPC as their IT financial management software, organizations save the excessive hours spent monthly in manually compiling and integrating this data for strategic planning meetings, budget reviews, project selection meetings, and project status reviews.
Having an integrated source of top-down and bottom-up financial data provides one authoritative source of the latest departmental and project level information. Governance reports can be easily created in EPC. These reports reference auditable data, rather than being based on subjective information entered into a spreadsheet or presentation slide for monthly status reports.