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No More Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud FP&A: Here’s What You Need To Know

August 3, 2021 | Evan Webster  
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Advisory firm Gartner will no longer publish a Magic Quadrant vendor comparison for cloud FP&A solutions. Instead, the annual report will be replaced with a new Market Guide, the first of which is scheduled for release in February 2022.

Both Magic Quadrants and Market Guides provide valuable insight for software buyers, but it’s important to understand the key differences between them. Magic Quadrants categorize vendors and assess their strengths and weaknesses, while Market Guides offer an overview of the state of the market itself. In other words, Magic Quadrants help you figure out what you should buy, whereas Market Guides tell you why you should invest in a solution. Also, as Gartner notes, Market Guides are introduced “when a market matures to the point that the offerings become fairly interchangeable.” Gartner’s analysts believe the cloud FP&A market has reached that level. 

However, even though some vendors are offering similar solutions, there are still important differences separating the very best from the rest of the pack. You need to be able to recognize these differences as you explore the cloud FP&A market, because you can’t drive your growth journey with a tool that doesn’t meet all your needs. Here’s what you need to know:

Vena Is the Only Solution With a Native Excel Interface

According to a recent survey from BPM Partners, usability is what drives success with FP&A software solutions. Excel is the preferred language for finance professionals. That’s why Vena leverages Excel as the interface to our Growth Engine—it’s universal and easy-to-use. With Vena, you can use the tool you already know to do things you’ve only imagined.

Think of it this way: Excel is an awesome tool, but it’s not built to function like a comprehensive business planning application. Planning with offline spreadsheets can lead to version control issues, data integrity problems and countless hours wasted on tedious manual aggregations. Even still, 82% of companies with FP&A software keep using Excel anyway—another key finding from that same BPM survey. That means solutions promising to replace Excel must leave something to be desired. After all, Excel is the world’s best grid. But while it is familiar and flexible, all the manual work required to keep templates clean can be a burden. That’s where Vena comes in.   

Instead of forcing your teammates to learn a rigid, unfamiliar interface, Vena leverages the flexibility of Excel to give you the freedom to work the way you think. Everything you love about Excel spreadsheets stays exactly the same with Vena, but it’s amplified by the power and scalability of the Vena Growth Engine—our technology and methodology that powers your plan to grow—along with enterprise-class capabilities, including:

  • The ability to map your Excel workbooks to a central cloud database
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  • Detailed data analysis right in the Excel interface, using Excel’s inherent BI tools (Excel Ideas) 
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  • Visual workflow tools, audit trails and data validation measures
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  • Purpose-built Excel templates, plus the freedom to customize your own
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If your teammates can use Excel, they already know how to use Vena. Here are some examples of how Vena’s ease-of-use can accelerate your growth journey:

  • Maximum user adoption across every function of your business
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  • A significantly shorter learning curve compared to other cloud FP&A solutions
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  • Faster time-to-value both during and after your implementation
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If there’s anything finance teams can be certain about these days, it’s that Excel is not going anywhere. And Vena takes Excel even further with our Complete Planning platform—you really won’t find that with any other solution on the market.  

Vena Drives Complete Planning (Not Just FP&A)

If you’re looking to streamline and scale your core FP&A processes—such as budgeting, forecasting, reporting and ad hoc analysis—Vena can help your finance team plan faster, smarter and with consistently reliable numbers. But what about when you need to extend FP&A past the finance team and serve as a more strategic partner to your business? How will you effectively engage cross-functional stakeholders, simplify your analysis and unify business planning with one source of truth for your data?

That’s where the power of our Growth Engine really shines. Vena brings your people, departments, processes and systems into a secure, single-source cloud solution so you can grow anywhere together. Vena powers any plan you can create in Excel. It’s the only Complete Planning solution with configurations for FP&A, Extended Planning and Beyond. Instead of forcing you to operate in silos—which makes it tough to empower decision makers with a holistic view of the business—Vena makes it easy to work collaboratively, align objectives and drive tangible results across your business. Here’s how we do it:    

  • A native Excel interface for flexibility, comfort and easier adoption across departments (see above)
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  • Advanced automations so you can spend more time on analysis, instead of spending hours on tedious manual data entries
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  • Workflows, audit trails and data validation measures to help you better manage your processes with 100% trust in your numbers
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  • Seamless integrations with your existing source systems—including your ERP/GL, CRM, HRIS and more—to create one central database for all cross-functional data 

With that kind of power behind you, you can apply your agile FP&A framework to operations, HR, sales planning and more. This is critical, because as Gartner predicted in the 2020 (and final) edition of the cloud FP&A Magic Quadrant, 70% of FP&A projects will have an xP&A focus by 2024. So instead of evaluating vendors based on the benefits for just your finance team, ask yourself: How will this solution help me better serve the business as a whole? 

You can also check out this table for a breakdown of our Complete Planning platform. No matter where you are on your growth journey, Vena has a configuration to help take your business to a whole new level.

Solution Configuration Use Cases
Vena for Finance-Led Planning Budgeting, Forecasting, What-If Analysis, Financial Reporting, Management Reporting, Dashboards
Vena for Extended Planning Cash Flow Modeling, Workforce Planning, CapEx Planning, Sales and Revenue Planning

Vena for Beyond Planning

Financial Close Management, Consolidations, Account Reconciliation, Tax Provisioning, Incentive Compensation Management, Project Management

Vena Has No Limits

As we mentioned earlier in this article, Gartner’s move to the cloud FP&A Market Guide suggests solution capabilities aren’t the only things setting vendors apart anymore—it’s also the market segments, industries and verticals they’re equipped to serve. Vena’s flexibility, scalability and ease of use with Excel means Complete Planning with Vena is a truly limitless experience. The platform is fully customizable and can be applied across any number of industries and use cases, from mid-market leaders to multinational corporations.

We also offer pre-configured solutions made up of templates, data models, connectors and business logic customized to meet specific business and industry requirements. That means Vena is as flexible or as prescriptive as you need it to be. Every organization has different priorities for planning improvements, so it’s important to understand exactly what you’re trying to improve—and why—before you hit the market for a solution. Consider these examples:

If you don’t evaluate your business objectives and approach the market with a clear vision, it gets harder to focus your resources and keep your project on track for success. Vena can always be there for you as a dedicated partner in your growth journey—but you need to know what you’re looking for so we can steer that journey as a team.

Looking Ahead To the Market Guide for Cloud FP&A Solutions

Gartner’s upcoming Market Guide will teach you how the market for solutions is maturing, how the FP&A function is evolving and why businesses like yours are focusing on process optimization. However, it’s important to understand that the cloud FP&A market doesn’t lack differentiation because Vena is the only Complete Planning solution that leverages the flexibility of Excel. Other vendors might be similar, but nothing is quite like Vena—Vena empowers you to work the way you think. 

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Evan Webster

Evan Webster

Evan is a creative storyteller with a passion for innovative technology. As an Area Sales Manager with Vena (and formerly a Content Marketing Specialist), Evan is always experimenting with new ways to inspire finance professionals so he can help them thrive in their roles as strategic, forward-thinking business partners.

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