Actuate's Financial Tool Helps to Toe the SarbOx Line

By Theresa Carey  |  Posted 02-20-2005
Actuate Corp. has published the Actuate Financial Performance Management (FPM) system, which integrates data from disparate systems to provide on-demand reports to every employee with financial accountability. Companies using Actuate FPM can distribute fiscal responsibility throughout the enterprise, help drive financial performance and assist in compliance with federal regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Actuate, with 3,000 customers to date, has a strong presence in the financial services industry. Its FPM product brings elements of collaboration, process management and information integration to the business process of financial performance management. Actuate's solution is designed to allow companies to distribute fiscal responsibility beyond the finance department, speed budgeting cycles, and help companies reduce costs by limiting overruns and under-runs.

In the macro context, with SarbOx compliance a must and myriad changes taking place in global accounting practices, much attention is being focused on financial management processes. Due to regulatory concerns, financial process management is the focus of a large amount of attention. Actuate's solution touches on aspects of the macro environment.

The Actuate FPM platform is being used by customers as a technical toolkit to build specific solutions. According to Richard Stark, Actuate's director of Financial Performance Solutions, CFOs say that a corporation's true financial picture resides across 12 different systems, so management needs to access and synthesize the information in all those systems.

Most performance reporting and planning systems aren't designed for use outside of the finance department. Actuate extends the reach of these applications to the entire corporation.

Actuate lets clients generate reports across disparate systems, distributed across the enterprise to managers wherever they might be. Reports can be distributed via e-mail or through a portal, depending on end user preferences. Managers drill down to the underlying source system that created the information to answer the question, "Where did that number come from?"

Users collaborate through annotations added to specific data points. Their textual dialog is embedded in the application on top of the data. The system has built-in process management for viewing information and keeps track of who has approved each report. Users with the appropriate authority can see who has viewed each individual report. The system generates personalized reports based on user-level security that allows users to see only what they're authorized to see.

Steve Dewar, Manager of Financial Systems at York University, in Toronto, has implemented an Actuate-based system for forecasting and the budget call. York University's implementation rolls out data to various units, which input their budgets and forecasts. Those figures come back to the main database for approval by upper management. The resulting budget information is uploaded into a PeopleSoft system.

Dewar says, "One of the great things about Actuate is the ability to pull in data from a variety of sources. In PeopleSoft's system, Human Resources and General Ledger are separate applications and don't talk to each other. Accounts Payable also runs separately. With Actuate we can tie them together." Dewar notes that running queries within PeopleSoft takes a long time. The ability to grab data from various sources and integrate it within the budgeting process was a selling point for Dewar.

Actuate 8 iServer plus the Actuate FPM Solution is immediately available. Upgrades start at $100,000. For new customers, pricing is in increments of 50 users, starting at $150,000.

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