OutlookSoft's Everest 4.2 climbs beyond budgeting
Pure-Microsoft BPM play makes good use of budgeting rootsFollow @infoworld
Whereas the largest BPM players cobble together acquisitions to create a more complete offering built of separate modules, OutlookSoft aims to deliver a more focused, unified approach. OutlookSoft's history of budgeting strength provides solid roots for Everest Version 4.2, a single BPM solution that integrates budgeting and planning with financial monitoring and reporting.
The product is built around collaborative gathering and consolidation of financial planning and budgeting data. Everest connects to a back end that requires Microsoft SQL Server, IIS, Analysis Services for the OLAP pipeline, and Excel. Once it's loaded, users select and view consolidations, massage and rework the numbers, and post forecasts dynamically, as well as generating reports using the most up-to-date numbers.
Everest sports simple, highly functional graphics to complement those numbers. These include a visual scorecard model and an uncluttered report presentation that makes spotting the KPIs (key performance indicators) easy. Everest also provides dashboards for indicators supporting the executive information system concept and a radar display tool that I suspect will appeal to academics more than real users.
Everest 4.2, released in January, sports some new features, mostly in the area of offline data work and collaboration, a hot topic for all the leading BPM vendors.
Everest's “Park & Go” feature brings the back-end data to the local user's hard drive in the form of reports or input schedules. Users work with it in standard Excel and later upload the changes, freeing them from the network while maintaining continuity and accountability.
There are some modest but highly practical additions for collaboration. You can now create and print audit reports to specifically track changes people have made, as well as schedule distribution of reports or of books of reports.
Everest 4.2's main interface remains either Web Excel or a browser. With Web Excel, the back end connects to the networked data so you can update the worksheet's numbers on demand. Everest uses the browser for applications such as Collaboration Forum, a page where managers meet and outline their planning and delivery process, and My Everest, a layered portal with role-based views for the entire organization, one division or region, or a single user.
One of a Kind
A unified application built on a pure Microsoft foundation is an alluring idea, but in my years of reviewing products, this is the first I've seen that delivers the benefits of “a pure Microsoft play” in the product and not just in the marketing materials.
The advantages of Everest 4.2's all-Microsoft base accrue in three areas, each for a different stakeholder: purchasing, setup and administration, and front-line usability.
The purchasing advantage comes from being able to easily decode configuration. Because Everest is a single product, not a set of separate products and add-on modules, it makes the buying decision much easier and simpler. You won't spend cycles figuring out which modules to buy and install and whether they'll work with your other enterprise software.