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UNIT4’s New Offerings for Agile CFOs and Treasurers

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: January 9 2014

It is certain that with its recent CEO change and being taken private by Advent International UNIT4 is an enterprise software company in transition. While the first official announcements on a “reaching the next level” strategy by the new leadership are expected in late January 2014, business as usual continues at the well-performing company.
The vendor refers to its target market sector as “Businesses Living IN Change” (BLINC). The trademarked BLINC concept is not about mere technical change (implementation, updates, upgrades, new functionality or modules, cloud deployment, etc.) but rather about ongoing post-implementation business changes such as reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions (M&As), compliancy rules, financial management driven changes, organizational growth, etc. Instrumental to this capability is Vita, a “living” architecture in which the underlying data, processes, and delivery methodology move in lockstep and do not require re-coding for the aforementioned business change events.
With operations in 26 countries, over 6,000 customers, over 10,000 global deployments, and over 2 million users worldwide, UNIT4 reported revenue of $620 million (USD) in 2012 (making it a Top 10 mid-market enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor worldwide). 2013 marked the continued uptake of the company’s cloud offerings; in 2013 new software as a service (SaaS)/subscription license revenue matched the perpetual/on-premise license revenue.
In the North American market, cloud growth has been more driven by FinancialForce.com, the pure cloud applications company formed with a joint investment with salesforce.com. In Europe and the rest of the world, cloud growth is mainly coming from the other two major product lines: Agresso, an ERP suite for mid-sized and large services intensive organizations with homogenous IT needs, and Coda Financials, financial management software with excellent connectivity. The  Agresso cloud ERP offerings feature the following five multi-tenant cloud traits: security, portability, elasticity, completeness, and forgiveness.
New Financial Performance Solutions
During the December 2013 analyst roadshow in Boston, UNIT4 launched two new financial performance products into the North American market, aimed at providing more change-enabling solutions to CFOs and treasurers than what is currently available today in the U.S. and Canada. Called UNIT4 Consolidation and UNIT4 Cashflow Planning, the two new N.A. market software solutions are available either in a cloud-based SaaS purchase and deployment model, or via licensed on-premise installation. Both products are the result of advances made to technology acquired by UNIT4 in 2008 with the purchase of Coda and Sweden-based OCRA, which still is the local market leader for performance management solutions in its native country. Since that time, the OCRA technology has been updated with new user interfaces (UIs), social and mobile capabilities (see Figure 1), plus optimized integration into UNIT4’s Agresso ERP and Coda Financials solutions (see Figure 2).
Figure 1 – Collaborative Financial Performance Management Process
Figure 1 – Collaborative Financial Performance Management Process
Figure 2 – UNIT4 Financial Performance Management Portfolio

Figure 2 – UNIT4 Financial Performance Management Portfolio

UNIT4’s new financial performance management (FPM) solutions compete with the largest financial performance management vendor offerings in the market (i.e., IBM Cognos, Oracle Hyperion, SAP Business Objects, etc.), but without the typical hefty installation price tag and rigidity that requires high-cost ongoing spending.
UNIT4 FPM solutions are aimed at organizations with the need to manage complex, high volume financial data transactions, and which require capabilities from operational finance and reporting through to group finance departments. The tight link from operational and transactional data to high level financial key performance indicators (KPIs) with full transparency and audit trail is of huge value to finance and treasury chiefs who want to adhere to best practices and deliver a single version of the truth. UNIT4’s FPM solutions draw data from multiple sources and leverage it in their common information model and built-in business relationships logic (see Figure 3).
Figure 3 – Common Information Model
Figure 3 – Common Information Model
UNIT4 Cashflow Planning balances reporting and projections of both current and future requirements, and includes the capability to support late-breaking changes. It offers comprehensive cash management and planning capabilities designed for multi-currency conversion and liquidity forecasts. The corporate treasurer-oriented solution includes the following capabilities (see Figure 4):
  • Multi-company, multi-geography, multi-currency roll-ups of cash liquidity and forecasting
  • Single-screen, at a glance views with functionality for building automatic graph presentations of cash positions
  • Treasury gains instant control of liquidity forecast, net cash position and currency exposure
  • Facilitates reporting of comparative views of cash position today, cash needs for the future, and the net currency exposure
 Figure 4 – Cash Flow Management

Figure 4 – Cash Flow Management
On the other hand, UNIT4 Consolidation (Figure 5) is an integrated solution that links operational and transactional data to high level financial KPIs. Its key capabilities include:
  • Top to bottom financial performance visibility
  • Group-wide social communication and collaboration
  • Comprehensive group accounting
  • Statutory reporting with unlimited comparison values
  • Streamlined inter-company netting
 Figure 5 – Financial Consolidation

Figure 5 – Financial Consolidation
Both the UNIT4 cash flow and financial consolidation solutions include drill-downs to the transactional level and source system data security as additional capabilities. The products were made available on January 1, 2014 to all current and net new Agresso and Coda customers in N.A. Early results from introducing the products in a limited way into the European markets show strong promise with 22 net new significant deals since January. Both products will be targeted to existing Agresso and Coda customer bases, as well as net new deals as standalone offerings (given that they can unite disparate data sources from multiple vendors). It is worth pointing out that OCRA had about 90 customers at the time of being acquired, and that number is now at about 300 companies.
Faster In-memory Reporting & Analysis
During the December analyst roadshow, UNIT4 also released Agresso Analyzer, a new in-memory analytics tool that provides instant data analysis capabilities for Agresso ERP customers. The tool is natively integrated with all of the data residing within Agresso ERP.
The reporting tool allows authorized users at any level in an organization to analyze any data subset. The analysis is possible within any parameters or roles where ongoing and associative data subset analysis and reporting is required. The user-friendly interface is graphically versatile and can run on any device via a Web browser. From the Agresso ERP tools menu, users can simply click on the Analyzer button to view data within any defined dataset. They can then filter the data in an unlimited number of ways for nearly instantaneous analysis and presentation of the data.
Users can view data within the selected subsets on a granular or summarized basis, and it can be displayed in pivot tables, graphs, and pie charts with real-time updates (see Figure 6). The resulting associative data gleaned from the analytics actions provides the fastest route to gain fresh insights on changing organizational circumstances. While Agresso Analyzer is by no means an equivalent of the SAP HANA platform,  nor does it intend to be, its fast in-memory reporting and analysis are intended to provide a superior level of competitive change capabilities in the analytics area. 
Figure 6 – Agresso Analyzer
Figure 6 – Agresso Analyzer
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