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Hyperion hooks UpStream for financial data quality

Business intelligence and performance management vendor Hyperion plans to acquire UpStream Software, which provides an application for financial data quality.

In the age of compliance, financial data quality is a requirement, not a luxury.

That's one reason Santa Clara, Calif.-based Hyperion Solutions Corp. today announced intentions to acquire UpStream Software, a Rochester, Michigan-based private software company that makes financial data quality tools. UpStream has been a Hyperion partner since 2002 and makes a data readiness and guided workflow application that is used to track financial information. The business intelligence (BI) and business performance management (BPM) vendor will pay an undisclosed sum in cash to acquire UpStream, and the deal is expected to close in the next few weeks. The acquisition is part of Hyperion's strategy to redefine and expand what customers need in a BPM platform, according to Richard Clayton, Hyperion's vice president of product marketing.

"Ultimately, improving data quality and integrating data are the first steps in delivering on the promise of business performance management. In the end, what we're trying to do is help the finance organization have greater confidence in what they report. To the extent to which we can make information verifiable, auditable and traceable back to the source systems, it's going to put that confidence in the numbers," Clayton said.

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UpStream's products will enable Hyperion to focus on important niches in financial data quality and integration, he said. While traditional data quality tools typically match text-based customer information, financial data quality deals with numbers. With enterprises becoming more distributed, there are many opportunities for financial data problems, Clayton explained. International subsidiaries might send files in the wrong currency, divisions might send in numbers that aren't balanced or financial data might be accidentally posted multiple times. UpStream's application focuses on identifying and managing these kinds of financial-specific issues, he said.

In the short term, UpStream's Web-based application will be re-branded as Hyperion System 9 Financial Data Quality Management. The application provides a workflow user interface for developing standardized financial data management processes and a data preparation service for collecting, mapping, verifying and moving financial data from any source system. It also has BPM adapters for System 9's financial management, planning and Essbase analytics system, which had been developed already as part of the companies' partnership. Longer term, Hyperion plans to offer new adapters for its strategic planning and corporate tax applications, Clayton said, and plans to expand into new markets.

Impact to existing customers is expected to be minimal, because all of UpStream's 200 customers are also Hyperion customers, Clayton said. When it comes to mission-critical financial applications, some companies are concerned about dealing with a smaller company like UpStream, so the new ownership will give the technology some needed market clout, he explained.

"Probably half of our new application sales to new customers include [UpStream] already, so they're already a very tightly integrated company," Clayton explained.

It's a natural fit, agreed John Heid, director of finance systems, automation and control solutions for Morristown, N.J.-based Honeywell International Inc. The company has used tools from Hyperion and UpStream since 2003.

"The great niche [UpStream] filled was an out-of-the-box data integration tool that helps companies like us with multiple ERP systems," Heid explained. "We have over 47 different ERP tools and we needed something that could quickly integrate them. [UpStream's application] worked well, it was proven with Hyperion and it was an off-the-shelf solution at a low cost."

Heid has no concerns about support or service after the acquisition is completed, but offered one comment for the joint product roadmap wish list.

"I would like to see UpStream's Sarbanes-Oxley tools and data audit tools maintained, improved and embedded within the Hyperion product lines," Heid said. "100% of our Sarbanes-Oxley compliance associated with data changing is done through UpStream. We like the way the tool tracks the who, what and when of any data change."

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