Host Analytics is they way to go
September 14, 2015

Host Analytics is they way to go

Jean Dane | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Modules Used

  • Planning (Capital/Initatives), and reporting

Overall Satisfaction with Planful (formerly Host Analytics)

We use Host Analytics across the company for planning purposes. Each cost center manager is responsible for entering their plans and updating forecasts in the Host System. Finance than consolidates and reports on the plan and forecasts using Host Reporting. We moved from Excel based planning to Host so we could be more efficient and timely with our planning / forecast process. The system has resulted in time savings, increased accuracy and more manager accountability for their plans. We love that we are not relying on "linked" spreadsheets anymore and have more confidence in our plan numbers.

We also use Financial Package Publisher (FPP) to generate our Monthly Financial Results package for the board and other leaders. The reporting in Host is very robust and easy to implement and use. The increased functionality with the ability to now schedule Host jobs makes our jobs even more efficient. By utilizing Host reporting we have realized huge time savings in our monthly process of reporting results, analyzing plan and forecasts, and our ability to push reporting to our users.

  • Reporting - The dynamic reporting is easy to use and roll out. The Report Collections capability is fantastic and we use this functionality for pushing out reports to users and our own analysis. The new enhancement that allows us to schedule these jobs makes our jobs that much easier.
  • Boomi Tool - This tool allows us to load actuals from our SAP system directly to Host Analytics on a scheduled timeframe without any manual intervention from us. Currently we load actuals into Host every night, and on the hour during the first two days of our close process. This keeps Host relevant and up to date. It is a seamless process.
  • Plan consolidation - In SAP it took 4 hours just to consolidate. IF we found an error we wasted another 4 hours. In Host consolidation is within a matter of minutes. Huge benefit over SAP.
  • Business Analytics Reporting - Difficult to use and training is not sufficient for understanding how to write these types of reports. Compared to their Dynamic reporting functionality it doesn't even come close from an administration / report writer view.
  • Headcount/FTE Reporting - This is a simple and required function. Host should be able to report on this without workarounds. We don't want to sum FTE's to get number of FTE's for Qtr, Year etc. All clients use / want an easy way to report this and Host is lacking in this area.
  • Initiatives - You have the ability to enter capital into your initiative (Project) templates but this doesn't flow into the capital planning templates. So if you enter in the initiative you also have to enter into the capital module. Double work and not productive. The expenses for initiatives flow into the planning module so they should have consistency in their application with the capital piece. We have chosen not to use capital in the initiative templates due to having to enter it twice. This needs to be corrected.
  • We have reduced the time it takes for the finance area to prepare for a budget process - Setting up all the Excel planning files and links was a nightmare and we had to start a month before our planning process started just to get ready.
  • We have reduced the time it takes us to prepare the monthly results package.
  • When we added new locations using our old Excel planning process, it would take weeks for us to implement. With Host we are much quicker and able to meet the needs of our growing business in a more timely manner.
  • The ability to do ad-hoc reporting has given us faster response times to data requests.

Host user interface was more "user friendly" so we felt it would be easier to train our users and they would actually use the system, especially as compared to SAP business Objects.

Host is cloud based, Prophix was not.

Host Functionality as compared to Adaptive we felt was better.

We were very concerned about "after implementation". Would they provide good customer service, would they be responsive to our questions and needs? Host Analytics fit that bill better than others we looked at. And I am happy to say three years after implementation we are extremely happy with the customer support team - and use them extensively!

We loved the idea of Host being a cloud application. This in and of itself saves us money and time. We don't need our own servers or IT group to support the system. Enhancements are rolled out quarterly so updates are faster than if we went with a host based solution.

Planful Feature Ratings

Long-term financial planning
Financial budgeting
Scenario modeling
Management reporting
Intercompany Eliminations
Not Rated
Financial Statement Reporting
Management Reporting
Excel-based Reporting
Automated board and financial reporting
XBRL support for regulatory filing
Not Rated
Flat file integration
Excel data integration
Direct links to 3rd-party data sources

Planful Features and Attributes

They responded quickly and are fully supportive to my success and resolving my issues. I believe with the growth they have experienced the first level support isn't as knowledgeable as we would like unless it's for a simple question. They normally end up escalating to another person. We have established a relationship with three of the support personnel who are familiar with our application though and are extremely helpful.

There have been a few times when they have resolved the issue but the fix is a month out and this can be inconvenient.

Overall the system is easy to use, our users have picked it up fairly easily with minimal training. And we have conducted yearly surveys since implementation and user acceptance is high.
Actually numerous times. We use the support team often, and would say compared to other products I have never had service as good with other systems. They have assisted us with writing a complex report, just answering questions and directing us to the right places. We have used them as a second set of eyes on a report that isn't working as intended. Although we have had instances where were haven't been happy with a particular issue overall I think they do a wonderful job in support and I truly believe they want me as a client to be successful.

Using Planful (formerly Host Analytics)

Cost center managers and leaders who support them (Retail stores, distribution centers, finance, HR, facilities, Marketing etc), Analyst who supports the functional areas, Finance and Accounting
You want someone with a sound finance / accounting background and Systems experience. They should understand databases, and have experience with report writing tools. To fully utilize the system you want to bring in other data as well not just financial or just from your G/L so someone who has worked with other interfaces, or tools to bring in data from one source to another would be extremely beneficial.
  • Planning / Forecast Capabilities
  • Reporting
  • Multiple scenarios
  • Dashboards / Scorecards
  • Bring in additional data from other sources than the G/L in a more automated fashion (Versus just excel uploads). Utilize box technology.
  • Utilize the scorecard module for daily data
We will renew. The system has lived up to its expectations. Although we want additional functionality (and they are working on it) we are 100 times better than we were on Excel.

Evaluating Planful (formerly Host Analytics) and Competitors

Yes - 

Excel spreadsheets, and SAP KP06 budget entry screens.

SAP is not user friendly, difficult to put notes in etc. The functionality from a user perspective was horrible. Consolidations took hours to run to get results so was not flexible enough for us.

Excel - We couldn't maintain efficiently all the spreadsheets and the links, too many errors, wasn't flexible enough to respond and change with our business.

  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
  • Positive Sales Experience with the Vendor
The Host product had the features we were looking for, not only the functionality we wanted but "user friendly" was also high on our list. IF the system wasn't easy to use they won't use it or would be frustrated with it as they were with SAP. We had extremely high user acceptance when we rolled out and user training went well and they picked up pretty quickly how to use they system.

I don't think we would have change how we selected our solution. We had a list of our functionality requirements and broke it down to must haves, and nice to haves. We involved IT for our interface and got their buy in on the tool even if they weren't administers of the system.

Today they are many many new players so our choice of top vendors would have probably been different but still believe Host would have been a top player, as we would also look at how long our partner had been in the market.

Planful (formerly Host Analytics) Implementation

Be sure you understand all the language in the initial contract as to what is included and what is not. The BRDD document although more detailed and also a signed document is not a contract and Host will not necessarily honor that document.

Be sure your solutions architect has been with Host awhile and done numerous other implementations. The better qualified they are the better your implementation will go.

Do you own homework, and be ready with your own documentation on process, what your proposed dimensions are and fields with the data to populate them.

Yes - 

Planning - Phase 1

Reporting - Phase II

Change management was minimal
  • Had to write a SAP to Host interface as we chose to use Boomi tool to do an automatic load of data.
  • The signed BRDD document contained deliverables that host just weeks before implementation said that they will now not to complete.
  • Setting up the budget entities - we had to redo them as the solutions architect learned more about our business and realized they were not set up appropriately.

Planful (formerly Host Analytics) Support

Good followup
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
Escalation required
No - 

WE had premium support the first year and felt it was well worth the price because we still had a ton to learn and were still developing a lot of our processes and reporting and wanted their expertise available to us as we needed it.

Now that we have used the system for a couple of years we felt we didn't need to pay for premium support.

Yes - It seems to take awhile when you find a bug in the system to get it resolved and then it may be a month before they roll it out. I would guess this is due to the testing they have to do before rolling it out to ensure it doesn't break something but it would be nice if they rolled out a fix when they resolved it. We had one bug (report collections) that took months to find and than longer to actually correct. This prevented us from rolling out an enhancement we had already communicated to our management.

Using Planful (formerly Host Analytics)

Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Quick to learn
Feel confident using
Lots to learn
  • Completing a budget template
  • Running repot collections
  • Consolidating plans
  • Any Business Analytics Reporting
  • Capital
  • Initiatives - not intregrated fully with the rest of the sytstem