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Impressions from the First Budget Maestro Annual User Conference

May 26, 2017
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A memorable experience and confirmed realizationsI just got back home from the first Budget Maestro Annual User Conference. The event took place at the beautiful Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge, Mass., overlooking the Charles River with the Boston skyline in the background. With hot but otherwise beautiful weather, the conference was off to a great start.With customers, both veteran and new in attendance, I recalled when I first became a Budget Maestro user. It was a one-inch display ad in CFO magazine that caught my eye. At the time, I was looking for a solution to assist me with preparing monthly forecasted balance sheets for a new venture capital opportunity in the hi-tech industry.I needed to use my forecasted monthly P&L sheets to produce accurate and complete sets of balance sheets for each budget period.  No software solution at that time could deliver that, and relying on Lotus 123 (the go-to spreadsheet of that era) was not an option for many reasons that we all know now, Replace Excel with a Dedicated Planning, Budgeting and Analysis Solution and Is It Time to Switch from Spreadsheets to Business Budgeting Software?.Budget Maestro delivered what I was looking for. While rudimentary, with only a fraction of the features it has today and with no analytics module, it got the job done. I didn’t quite have a Smart Budget since the term didn’t exist back then but it did have some of the elements of a Smart Budget with its built-in business logic and accounting rules.At the time of my purchase I had no idea the company had only two employees. Somehow, the person I talked to was able to communicate a message that eventually evolved into the message I now use on this blog, Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting - Why Tradition May Be Dangerous - Part 1 and Part 2 and whenever I share with customers or anyone in finance looking for a budgeting, forecasting and analytics software package.The conference was packed with informative sessions, powerful customer stories and testimonials and new product announcements. There was a great deal of entertainment, too, and a good time was had by all.With that said, there were two things that left a strong impression on me. First, meeting many of the customers in attendance and listening to their stories and experiences implementing and administering Budget Maestro at their companies validated the Centage approach to budgeting, forecasting and analysis and that no other solution in the SMB (small and medium-size business) space can deliver what Budget Maestro can.Customers shared their positive experiences with Centage employees, including training, customer support and other personnel, and how pleased they were with the overall implementation experience and putting the product to good use within a short period of time.It was refreshing to learn that more customers are using the forecasted balance sheet and statement of cash flows a lot more than in past years. I listened to customers discuss their needs and challenges in implementing Budget Maestro and what they hope to accomplish next with the software, and I offered suggestions and tips on how to best use Budget Maestro.Second, I had the opportunity to meet new employees and reconnected with people I already knew at Centage. They all shared their experiences working at Centage, and the common theme was always providing the best possible customer service and support experience while enjoying the work environment and connecting with their coworkers. It was apparent that the company has matured to a point where I believe it will be propelled to the forefront of its industry.When making my initial purchase of the software license I had no idea it would lead to such a great event and robust company with an outstanding product line. I was simply looking for a solution to a specific challenge I had at the time. All that has changed now, and given what I see, Centage is poised for great success and to become a force to be reckoned with.

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