What is Echelon?

Tuesday, 10 April 2018 by

A conceptual approach to problem solving or realising opportunities in business operations


Echelon will enable you to gain a single, connected view of your business and IT components, including:

Based on industry recognised frameworks and standards, our structured meta-model defines and presents the interdependency and operability of who, what, how, and where in terms that ensure success for any business or IT initiative. This simple, effective approach is pre-populated in iServer but is product independent and provides guaranteed value for any Enterprise Architecture software solution.




  • Strategic Objective
  • Indicators


  • Management Report
  • Value Chain
  • Process


  • Organisation Role
  • Organisation Unit


  • Data store
  • Domain Entity


  • Application Component


  • Network
  • Device
  • Technology Platform

Click here to read more on Echelon 

Contact us for assistance 011 591 0103

By Lawrence Serven, Regional Sales Director, The Americas, BOARD International

One theme we’ve seen throughout this series is that the best performing organisations have integrated financial and operational planning. This extends to the cascading of goals down through the organisation. This means that higher level goals (such as growing sales by 100K units) is broken down into incrementally smaller goals, potentially down to an individual level. For example, the 100K unit sales growth will cascade down into regions, districts, and sales people. Cascading of goals is a critical element of building accountability. While many companies cascade financial targets, the best performing organisations stand apart for cascading operational targets as well.

An interesting finding from our global research of more than 700 organizations is that public companies were more likely to cascade financial goals than privately held companies or Not-For-Profits. However, public companies are no more likely than anyone else to cascade operational targets. One reason could be that public companies have and especially high need to reach financial goals for stockholders and analysts, and that consumes all of their bandwidth.

Now most people are familiar with the concept of cascading financial goals. Typically, something like a revenue target will cascade from the enterprise to a business unit to a region to a district or Sales Representative. What makes the best performing organisations different is they also cascade operational targets; and hold people accountable for delivering them.

Keep in mind that the best run companies have explicitly linked operational metrics & goals with financial performance (they understand and leverage the relationships). So it would make perfect sense for these organizations to cascade operational goals to drive accountability for results; knowing that without that their financial goals are at risk.

From a technology perspective, scorecards/dashboards that effectively communicate key financial and non-financial measures is key. This means being able to “zip and unzip” targets — to have a line of sight from a high level vantage point down to an individual’s goals.

Accountability can be manifested in many ways, from job security, to a pat on the back, to public praise. In the next post, we want to address the most obvious means to drive accountability – pay for performance.

BOARD is a “one stop shop” solution that helps retailers to break down functional and organizational silos and to run effective planning, forecasting and analysis processes across the whole organization: from HQs down to countries, departments, warehouses, stores and SKU level.

With BOARD, financial goals can be easily translated into inventory and assortment strategies that perfectly align capacities and constraints across the whole supply chain.

Data coming from different systems (eg: PLM , ERP , legacy systems ) of various organisational units can be collected and logically linked in a single repository, providing full visibility into any step of the planning and forecasting process.

With BOARD you will be able to:

  • Move your planning process from reactive to proactive
  • Anticipate market trends in your planning process
  • Optimize product and collections profitability
  • Minimize stock-outs and over-stocks
  • Link financial objectives to operations
  • Easily define and implement workflows across the whole organization
  • Align the sales, marketing, production and logistical departments
  • Reduce complexity and increase flexibility
  • Increase users’ efficiency thorough self-service analysis

Easily summarise your business performance with stunning data visualisations, delivering a personal and immediate understanding of what is going on. Combine data from any source to effectively display and monitor the status of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) across the enterprise. All without writing a single line of code.


Make Your Data Talk

BOARD offers unmatched capabilities to turn organisations’ data into the right information for any decision-maker. A wide selection of gauges, data views, maps, charts, widgets, tables and other data-aware objects is associated with strong out-of-the box analytical capabilities such us segmentation, forecasting, time and business functions, all providing the capability to represent data with groundbreaking clarity.

Immediately gain a deeper understanding

Any element displayed into a BOARD dashboard is interactive, fully synchronised with all the others components on the screen and automatically connected with the underlying data. In this environment, getting deeper insights on data is a breeze. Users can drill-anywhere directly from KPIs gauges, widgets, and graphs (deciding the drill-down path; employ table rows or charts as filters for the whole screen; drag and drop measures and dimensions of analysis, to turn the most complex analysis into an effortless task.

Easily track performance against your plans

BOARD unifies analysis and planning capabilities into a single platform, providing out-of-the-box capabilities to track performances against objectives. Unified measures, metrics and hierarchies for planned, forecasted and actual data not only make it possible to easily build Business Performance or Executive Dashboards, but also allow users to immediately extend variance comparisons to any level of detail and across any dimension of analysis.

Get real-time insights

Through its physical and logical in-memory multidimensional data model, BOARD offers a single metadata gateway that makes it possible to use the data resident on whatever database as if they were native to BOARD. This way BOARD allows you to build dashboards that can source live data, to monitor business processes in real-time.


BOARD brings closed loop decision-making to the Office of Finance.

Analysis, Simulation, Planning, Forecasting and Reporting in a single environment.

By integrating Business Intelligence, CPM and Predictive Analytics in a single product, BOARD offers to the Office of Finance a cutting-edge platform to drive decision-making processes across the whole organization, achieving an enterprise wide view of company performance.

Conceived to ensure extreme agility and full adaptability to any business process, BOARD allows Finance Teams to easily create unified analysis, planning, forecasting and simulation models, with minimal IT support.

Pre-built applications for Financial Planning and Analysis and Financial Consolidation minimise implementation times, without compromising the flexibility and speed of development that characterise BOARD’s programming-free drag and drop environment.

Single data repository for BI and CPM

With BOARD, any measure, dimension or hierarchy is stored in a central data repository and can be shared by the analysis, forecast and planning processes, ensuring data consistency and enterprise wide visibility.

Multidimensional Planning and Analysis

BOARD in memory multi-dimensional technology allows users to analyse, plan and forecast accessing data from different perspectives (e.g. sales per channel, area, distributor) and at different levels of detail.

Dynamic Models

BOARD offers advanced users the ability to modify the data model during the planning or forecasting process. A new business unit, a new product, a new market or a different investment can be inserted in a controlled way during a planning cycle, simulating the effect of a new scenario on the whole business model.

What-if and Scenario Management

Simulation capabilities and instant creation of scenarios allow users to easily generate, compare, and analyse alternative options to effectively drive decisions making processes.

Advanced data entry

From validation rules, to cell locking; from data entry on blocks, to commentary on cells; from data spreading, to driver based allocation, BOARD offers a cutting edge technology to enhance the effectiveness of data-entry processes.

Self-service data modelling

BOARD Fast Track technology allow business users to create analysis and data models from raw data in a matter of seconds and without any help from IT.

Self-service reporting

An intuitive drag and drop UI allows any users not only to build their own reports on the fly, but also to create customised versions of enterprise reports and to save them in personal environments.

Personalised Workflow

BOARD provides an integrated and fully customizable workflow management capability, which natively includes conditional alerting and mailing, cell locking and triggered events. Planning steps can be easily created and correlated to approval cycles, accurately reflecting the logic behind the processes.

Advanced Office Integration

BOARD provides bilateral Office Integration with Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Users can access BOARD data directly through Excel or synchronise Word and PowerPoint document with BOARD reports to easily create auto-updating booklets and presentations.

Board Software Key Advantages

Tuesday, 13 February 2018 by


HBMP in-memory technology, toolkit, data-fast track, dynamic data models: every BOARD component has been designed to ensure maximum speed of development and high performance.

Ease of use

A self-service data-discovery environment enables users to easily search for information, interact intuitively with their data, and perform in-depth analyses with the utmost simplicity.

User Self-sufficiency

The programming-free approach empowers business users to rapidly develop and maintain sophisticated analytical and planning applications with minimal IT Support.


BOARD is the only software platform that seamlessly unifies Business Intelligence, Performance Management, Analytics and Data Discovery in a single product.


BOARD toolkit approach delivers unrivalled agility in application building, customisation and maintenance, offering a “Total Cost of Ownership” that is unachievable with traditional solutions


5 reasons to use Board Software

Friday, 09 February 2018 by









Board is internationally recognised with over 3000 clients worldwide


Board focuses on your specific requests as a user, providing dashboard viewing


Board integrates easily with Microsoft packages 


Board will help better your Budgeting, Forecasting, Planning, Profitability & Future Profitability and Trends


Board will save you money as you will need less staff to develop reports


for more info check our the Board Software website by clicking here


Case Study – CPM- Manufacturing

Friday, 02 February 2018 by


ZF Friedrichshafen AG is a leading automotive supplier and technology company specialising in drive line and chassis solutions and safety technology. The company is represented by 137,000 employees at 230 locations in nearly 40 countries.



The Business Challenges

In 2013, the Board of Directors introduced a uniform reporting system and setup a single Management Information System (MIS) across ZF management. How do you consolidate the reporting system of an organisation comprising seven divisions and numerous strategic functions?   

Existing, outdated systems no longer supported the innovative and global-oriented high-tech company. Different divisions were importing data from SAP into Excel datasheets.  Producing reports was time consuming.  Each report was sector-specific with different key figures and a different layout. Excel reports were emailed to recipients, making it harder to analyse and compare data. It was difficult, and sometimes even impossible, to cross-reference the data.

The Goal

A reliable and flexible solution that adapts to rapid changes and fosters innovative business from ZF.  Key requirements included:

  • A Single Point of Truth
  • Easy to use and adopt
  • Consistent layout and uniform content
  • Centrally located reports
  • Secure and reliable access

Selection Process

ZF assessed about 60 BI tools, with BOARD coming top as their final choice. The ZF team were impressed with BOARD’s Proof of Concept as well as their close cooperation with the BOARD team. The BOARD team made sure the solution to the requirements was quick, creative and bespoke.

The Delivery

Within two short months they developed a Corporate Identity Designer that made it easy to implement the extensive design requirements of the reporting system. The first concept phase of the project took around a year to complete, in which time KPIs were defined for future reporting.

A style guide was created for reports and dashboards, combining International Business Communication Standards with ZF’s corporate design to ensure a consistent look and feel going forward.

The new reporting system was migrated step-by-step using an agile process. Not all business areas and strategic roles migrated at the same time, ensuring that additional requirements could be incorporated and the solution perfectly adapted to practical needs to produce an efficient reporting system.

The Solution

The ZF project has resulted in a complete application with intuitive navigation that adapts automatically to the rights and roles of the user.

A connector easily and reliably loads  reporting data into the BOARD database from SAP. The BOARD planning applications (Operational Planning & Strategic Planning) load data back from BOARD into SAP.  ZF writes data from BOARD back into SAP to create a single, all-in-one data point (SpOT).

There are currently 7 different applications for analysing and viewing data:

  • Managed Information System (MIS)
  • Strategic Planning
  • Operational Planning
  • IFRS & HGB Notes (Financial Statement)
  • Commentary (Liquidity)
  • Tax (Tax Reporting)
  • Profit Walk (Operative & Monthly Closing)

Around 1,200 employees access the tool and data worldwide, including everyone in the management team.  The ‘storytelling’ approach contributed to the acceptance of the system; an innovation that BOARD developed for ZF’s reporting system. Predefined stories present data so they are easy to understand and interpret.

The Value

ZF has introduced a state-of-the-art reporting solution that perfectly suits the dynamic nature of the business.

Employees can view and assess reports on a tablet or a computer. Instead of email, stakeholders can access centrally stored data at all times.  Standardising the design and content has made data faster and easier to compare. Statistical tools evaluate the use of screens so that unused screens can be removed and popular screens made more prominent.
With drill-down navigation options, the management team see as much detail as they like, based on the reported KPIs, with tailored comments to support the decisions made.

Watch our video interview with Armin Ohlinger – Head of Management Information Governance at ZF Group



Case Study – CPM – Financial

Monday, 29 January 2018 by


B-Source is the Swiss market leader in the sourcing of bank back office and IT services to banks in private banking and wealth management.  B-Source also offers ITO services to insurance companies and other financial institutions.

Combined, they have over 7500 employees worldwide, using B-Source systems and services on a 24 hours and 7 days per week basis. Figures document an impressive daily workload: 3000000 technical transactions, managed through 350 Unix servers, 900 Intel servers, 2500 MIPS mainframe, 4 AS/400 servers, more than 100 TB on storage area network, 2 international wide area networks, 50 local area networks, 3 metropolitan area networks, 1200 network components, 30 DMZ, 5 neutral zones, 12000 network access ports, 35 firewalls, 120 routers, 350 switches and more.

The Need

Overcome the limitations of Excel

Excel could no longer guarantee their ability to report on and analyse data obtained from SAP and they needed a tool that could interact quickly with their data, in an intelligent manner, and manage the growing volume of information generated by the business”.

At the selection stage, SAP BW was a principal alternative, but the implementation costs and a rigidity detected during prototyping suggested they needed a more flexible solution. A tool that did not require heavy investment or long lead-times before producing the operational information they needed.

From an IT standpoint, choosing BOARD assured them of many important advantages: in fact, the adoption of BOARD has enabled them to overcome the limitations of Excel in terms of volume, security, the centralisation of data, and the ability to simulate and report. At the same time, they found the tool easy to install and configure, allowing the multidimensional database to be managed in a totally intuitive manner.

The Project

Reporting, management control and profitability analysis

Starting with a data structure inherited from SAP and managed in a DWH SQL, BOARD was used to generate a multidimensional view of profitability considering three principal dimensions: customer, service and organisation (BU).

In addition, BOARD allowed them to add levels of detail not managed by SAP and to reallocate costs and revenues from profit centres to projects, or from divisions to departments, using a series of predefined drivers.

A second project involved the invoicing of back-office services: commencing from a transaction-based system, they use BOARD to monitor and measure a series of quantities, such as the number of calls, the number of payments handled and the number of pages printed, that enable them to price the services provided and invoice the customer accordingly.

The panorama of solutions developed using BOARD also included an application that allows them to consolidate the operating results of all group companies.

The breadth of the information managed using these applications lays a solid foundation for their reporting processes which, thanks to BOARD, benefit from a modern, easy to use and highly interactive interface.”

BOARD: simulations, ease of use, latest front-end

“In my view”, commented Marco Lusa, IT manager, “the value added by BOARD is our new ability to run simulations: we have moved from viewing data AS-IS to a more advanced scenario, where we can analyse the impact of likely future events.

For example, in our next implementation of the budgeting process, we want to take a dynamic rather than static approach to the available data. Simply by changing certain parameters, we should be able to make projections and forecasts to year end that build on the partial data available for the period,” continued Marco Lusa. “Clearly, to achieve this, we will need an in-depth knowledge of the tool in order to benefit in full from the opportunities it makes available.”

“In terms of our daily work”, explained Andrea Bionda, Internal IT Manager, “the upgrade from version 6 to version 7 of BOARD has brought enormous benefits. Administration is now much easier at the installation and configuration stage and, more importantly, when it comes to the various data management activities required: from back-ups to the construction and maintenance of databases, each operation has become easier and more effective.”

“From my standpoint, as an advanced end user,” concluded Luca Mainini, Head of Finance, “the greatest advantage offered by BOARD is undoubtedly its practicality: the front-end has an innovative graphics interface that combines ease of use with a powerful ability to display, analyse and interact with data.”


By Lawrence Serven, Regional Sales Director, The Americas, BOARD International

This is the third of a 12-part blog series appropriately called The 12 Principles of Best Practice FP&A. These Principles are based on global research conducted with more than 700 organisations worldwide.

Principle #3: The best performing companies have a much better understanding of how their operational plans drive their financial results, and monitor the progress of those plans.

The best performing organisations know that their financial results are the product of operational decisions and actions. For example, increased manufacturing productivity translates into decreased Cost of Goods Sold and increased EBITA. Operations and the resulting P&L are completely intertwined. While we all know this on some level, the best performing organisations make those connections explicit. When they establish a goal of increasing EBITA by some amount, they know what they have to do to achieve that, and put projects in place to make it happen.

Beyond that — and this really separates the good from the great – the best performing organisations monitor the progress of those projects and have a clear understanding of how progress (or lack of progress) will impact the P&L. So, for example, if a project that is designed to increase productivity by 5% is delayed by six months, they know the impact on Cost of Goods Sold (COGs) will be $Y and the impact on EBITA will be $X.

The role of Finance here is significant — this is where we can live up to our role as a Partner in the Business. Operational Managers know everything there is to know about the specifics of their operations, but don’t necessarily understand the P&L or their impact on it. Finance can bridge this gap. It requires that they know enough about the business and the area the serve to be conversant on the issues and have a well-reasoned point of view. Once they have this foundation, they can connect the dots between operational goals and the impact on the financials. They can then work with Operational managers to share this know how and build business acumen.

Monitoring the progress and impact of these plans requires, among other things, a robust Dashboard. Displaying KPIs, goals and progress toward goals, the status of initiatives, are all key elements of an effective dashboard. The more sophisticated organisations have “drillable” dashboards that capture cascading goals and KPIs so each successive layer of management can key in on their responsibility, but at the same time see where they fit in the chain.

The last point to make here is the importance of continuous improvement. Not just in perfecting KPIs, but also in learning the connections between operational performance and the P&L. Take, for example, the impact of promotions on sales. We know there is an implicit connection, but how strong is it and to what degree does it exist? Which promotions work and which don’t? Incorporating lessons learned from real world experience will improve forecast accuracy, and ultimately will help the organisation achieve greater success.