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How to Choose the Best FP&A Software

October 26, 2023
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Whether your company is outgrowing a spreadsheet-only system, looking to migrate from your existing FP&A tools, or starting from scratch, purchasing FP&A software is no small undertaking.Setting aside the major issue of cost, there are many other factors to consider when vetting potential FP&A software. Evaluating financial forecasting software means understanding what it can do for you today, tomorrow, and well into the future.Here are 4 key questions to ask yourself as you consider adopting new FP&A planning software or other budget forecasting tools.

1. How quickly can you start using new FP&A software?

After spending months evaluating features and software FP&A vendors, the last thing a team wants to do is wait months more to start using it. Yet, with some FP&A solutions, extensive implementation processes and timelines mean a lot more waiting before you're fully up and running.This delays your team from reaping the benefits of the new planning and forecasting tools you're onboarding, drives up costs, and disrupts your business.It’s also important to understand the involvement of your own internal resources for implementation tasks. For long, complicated implementations, or those that are housed on-site, both finance and IT teams may need to dedicate long hours to ensure proper setup of the budgeting and forecasting software.If, however, the platform offers a cloud FP&A solution, implementation time from IT may be minimal, costs are reduced, and disruption to the existing process are all but eliminated.

2. What’s the learning curve?

Learning a new FP&A planning software package can be daunting. Having worked from spreadsheets for years, many teams are afraid of a new way of doing things, or may not trust a new FP&A tool. Beyond that, some FPA software mirrors the complexity of the application’s inner workings in the user interface. In other words, a lot of budget forecasting software just isn’t easy to use.When considering different FP & A software, pay attention to how easy the budgeting and forecasting tools are to use. Is there a steep? learning curve? A lot of training just to get up and running? How easy is it to create reports? Can the finance team manage FP&A software internally, or will they need IT’s help?Whichever FP&A software solutions you choose, make sure the vendor is ready and willing to help you with any questions you run into during setup and use.

3. What’s the technology stack?

When investing in financial planning and analysis software, you’ll want to be sure that it will run well for years to come, that it will run smoothly, and that it will operate well with current technology. FP&A technology may be a category of its own, but the best FP&A software will integrate seamlessly into an up-to-date tech stack.

FP&A solutions must be built on current technologies in order to be fast and efficient, and to be able to import and integrate data from a multitude of sources. Advanced functions, like dashboarding and reporting, FP&A modeling, and cloud financial planning require the application to utilize the underlying tech to the fullest. The cloud based financial planning software you choose should leverage the power of the cloud to give you fast and accurate results.FP&A software tools also need to be technologically up-to-date to ensure security.Also, for an application to be secure it must be built to modern standards. Security, in the cloud and on-premise, is of utmost importance. FP&A systems and forecasting software developed on dated technology will have a difficult time with security updates and patches. The best financial forecasting software remains secure, all of the time, with no intervention from you.

4. How flexible is the budget and forecast software?

Flexibility and availability are key to getting the wide variety of input needed for an accurate budget. If your forecast planning software doesn’t allow for collaboration, or requires the finance team to reconcile data from multiple sources, the company misses opportunities or experiences detrimental data errors.The FP&A planning tools you purchase should offer more than just budget planning and forecasting. Software for financial planners is a serious investment. It should have a robust feature set and functionality — like FP&A automation — to help the business budget, forecast, analyze, and understand where the company is and where it's headed.

The best forecasting software for business depends on the size of your business

There are plenty of FP&A software companies and FP&A software vendors out there for you to choose from, and the best FP&A software for startups may not be the same thing as small business financial planning software or enterprise financial planning software. Your FP&A process flow will depend on your business size, as will the corporate financial planning software you ultimately choose.In your search for comprehensive financial planning software, keep your company's size front of mind. Enterprise financial planning solutions won't be the best FP&A software for small business, and vice versa.

Still wondering: What is FP&A software? What software do financial planners use, and how do they choose the corporate financial planning tools or SaaS budgeting software that best fits their needs? Check out Centage’s planning budgeting and forecasting software buyer’s guide for a deeper dive into the world of planning and forecasting software.

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