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Four Steps to a Better Business Budget

June 30, 2020
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During the business budgeting season, it’s not uncommon to hear finance teams and executives alike ask the same question – “Isn’t there a better way?” This year is no exception, in fact, it may be your most challenging budgeting season yet.

It’s important that businesses do their best to create a solid business plan based on an accurate budget that can be relied on to lead the organization into the future - even if that future is full of uncertainty. If you’re using spreadsheets for complex business models, however, you’re likely sacrificing time and accuracy.After spending months building business logic into spreadsheets, inputting collaborative data from teams, applying accounting rules and fixing sheets that might break during the process, it is then time to review for accuracy. The smallest change could put the budget at risk of further issues, and without validation, Excel budgets must be poured over by finance teams to ensure no bad entries or miscalculations have made their way into the planning.There is a better way, however. With the right approach and with the help of a cloud-based planning and business budgeting software, you can shave hours, days and sometimes months off the budgeting process.

Support the Team

Budget season usually requires the management team to step away from their day-to-day tasks to dedicate time to the process. Loading teams with major projects and deadlines while also asking them to be focused on budgeting sends a message that planning isn’t a priority.Encourage your teams to block time for budget planning sessions and empower them to focus on the tasks at hand. If projects can be shifted to ensure your leaders have dedicated time to work on numbers, the results will be more accurate and more timely.

Switch to Rolling Budgets as Part of Your Business Budgeting Process

We talk about budget season, as if financial planning is something that only happens once a year. In truth, planning and evaluation against actuals is something that can, and in many cases should, happen with greater frequency.By switching to a rolling budget, you’ll spread the work out to planning throughout the year, rather than cramming it all into just a month or two. This has the added benefit of keeping budgets top of mind, and also trains the team to develop a cadence of addressing their department’s financial planning regularly.

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Don’t Wait in Line

If you’re still using spreadsheets for business budgeting you either risk errors and miscalculations by merging multiple versions, or you cause delays in the process by having only one person at a time accessing the budget. In either case, the process is slowed to a crawl.Free up your planning with a tool that allows multiple contributors to access the budget at once. This will prevent merge errors and revisions needed for planning already completed when contributors alter what earlier ones have submitted.

Use the Right Tools

It would be difficult to implement many of these recommendations to streamline the business budgeting and planning process if you’re still using a spreadsheet. Excel budgeting is fraught with errors and lack of data validation and enforcement increases the time needed to review additions made by the management team.Using a tool that allows multiple contributors at once, allows for different budgeting models, and enforces business and accounting rules will lessen the time both management and your finance team needs to spend on the planning process. Budgets are inherently accurate with built-in data validation. And contributors need to reserve less time to provide their inputs to the plan.

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