How to Choose a Cloud Financial Close Solution

How to Choose a Cloud Financial Close Solution
January 25, 2019

A cloud financial close solution, typically available as software as a service (SaaS), helps the office of finance efficiently go from close to disclose. This may include everything from financial consolidation to managing your financial reporting, performance reporting, and other disclosures. A quick Google search will yield a mix of niche players focused on one aspect of the financial close to more comprehensive platforms that address multiple areas.

Choosing the right solution—or combination of solutions—can set you on the path toward a pain-free financial close and a fast return on investment.

Consider the financial close capabilities you need

Before you start researching solutions, begin by identifying what is it that you want to fix. The financial close solution that fits your organization best will vary depending on:

  • How many people participate in the close process
  • The complexity of your close
  • The number of outputs or reports you want to include
  • Existing systems you want to integrate

For example, smaller organizations that operate solely in a single country will have financial close requirements that look very different from an enterprise impacted by global considerations and intercompany transfers.

If you're not sure where to begin, Gartner's Critical Capabilities for Cloud Financial Close Solutions report may be a good starting point. It lists vendor offerings that are considered most desirable by peer organizations.

Review the most recent analyst reports

Analyst pieces such as the Gartner Magic Quadrant present a global view of the primary vendors in the cloud financial close market. Decision-makers can use analyst reports like these to identify vendors that are a good match for their financial close needs.

Gartner evaluated 10 cloud service providers (CSPs) in its 2018 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Close Solutions. You can see how each one fared in areas such as ability to execute (e.g., innovation, market understanding) and completeness of vision (e.g., overall viability, pricing, customer experience).

Compare vendors side by side

Start taking inventory of the different features and benefits available from each provider. No matter which vendor you choose, a modern accounting solution should deliver certain capabilities that take full advantage of the cloud:

  • Real-time collaboration—specifically, working in the same documents at the same time
  • Extensive audit trail into financial data
  • Automation of time-intensive, error-prone manual tasks
  • Digital certifications, reviews, and approvals within the platform
  • Supporting document management and ability to attach evidence

These are among some of the top reasons for choosing the cloud, but you can start prioritizing your own needs by making a list of questions to ask as you are comparing financial close solutions.

Research opinions from users

Need an outsider's perspective? See what fellow practitioners have to say about their experiences with a cloud financial close solution. Gartner Peer Insights collects reviews from accounting and finance professionals, directors, and the C-suite. You can get their reactions to a solution's ease of use, implementation, customer support, and integration with existing systems and processes.

Be sure to sift through the mix of reviews of every solution you evaluate—as well as how often providers make updates to their offerings—so you know what your team can expect from the technology, both today and into the future. Ratings of Workiva cloud solutions are available on multiple review sites if you are interested in contrasting and comparing.

If Workiva is one of the cloud solutions you are considering, let us know when you are ready to request a demo.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Gartner Peer Insights reviews constitute the subjective opinions of individual end users based on their own experiences, and do not represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates.