Host Analytics introduces MyPlan, MyPlan Mobile to enable budget owners on the business side to collaborate on forecasts, plans and agile course corrections.
Budget-owners on the business side don’t want to use software designed for financial professionals any more than finance types want business people interacting with data or software features they shouldn’t see or touch.
These prevailing instincts are the reason Host Analytics (Host) recently added a business-user-oriented MyPlan interface for its cloud-based enterprise performance management (EPM) system. At its May 21-23 Host Perform user conference, the company followed up by announcing MyPlan Mobile, a device-native app (initially on iOS) designed to keep executives who are on the go connected to budgeting and planning processes.
Held this year in Dallas and attended by some 700 customers, Host Perform also highlighted recent upgrades and coming attractions to the vendor’s software-as-a-service-based EPM platform. But MyPlan and MyPlan Mobile were the clear centers of keynote and expo-floor attention.
Design for Business Users
EPM vendors are all fond of saying that budgeting and planning should be a team sport. And in a perfect world, finance wouldn’t rely on emailed spreadsheets and other disconnected, manual methods to gather data and collaborate with budget owners around forecasts and plans. EPM systems give finance a centralized, collaborative platform for budgeting and planning, but these systems have not typically seen broad adoption outside of finance. In Host’s assessment that’s because EMP systems are designed, first and foremost, for finance professionals and are not familiar or intuitive for business users.
Rather than dumbing down its usual interface, Host developed MyPlan through clean-sheet design sessions with budget-owning business users. What these users want, Host discovered, is a simpler interface in which they can see where they stand, meaning actual performance to date, see where they’ll land, meaning at the end of current budget period, and see what they can plan, meaning how they can adjust their spending and allocations to meet budget expectations.
The result was the MyPlan interface (shown below), which was made generally available in March. The interface gives the budget owner – it this case, a marketing executive – a clear sense of where they stand in terms of people, equipment, travel and program expenses. Green and red colors highlight where forecasts and budget figures are on track and where there’s variance.
Host's MyPlan (top) and MyPlan Mobile interfaces (above) are designed to show business users where they stand on actual performance and where they're forecasted to land by the end of the current financial period. By selecting a wrench icon, users can test changes, reforecast and then update their plans in order to meet budget expectations.
The MyPlan Mobile App, which will be released in the second half of 2018, will enable employees who are on the go to see the latest results and then respond, by adding or deleting a planned employee, adding or deleting an asset, or approving or rejecting an expenditure and submitting the update to finance. In a role-playing scenario during the opening keynote at Host Perform, a corporate lawyer used MyPlan Mobile to reviewed the latest expenditures for the Legal department, make changes to his plan, reforecast and then submit updates to his budget.
MyPOV on MyPlan and MyPlan Mobile. Like other EPM vendors Host offers integrations to Microsoft Excel, but the company says the business users it talked to when designing MyPlan pointedly did not want a spreadsheet-like grid for collaborative budgeting and forecasting. As I see it it’s a clean design that keeps things simple, but the strength of the MyPlan interface is that it’s a connected and collaborative view of each stakeholder’s budget and plan. Users can click on the wrench symbol to reallocate resources, optimize and otherwise update their plans in order to meet budget expectations. I particularly like the fact that MyPlan eliminates toggling between applications by exposing everything the user needs within a single interface.