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Investing in the Right FP&A Software: A Critical Component

March 7, 2023
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It’s no secret that a recession is still looming on the horizon. While the exact timing remains uncertain, economists are generally in agreement that the high inflation and increased interest rates are indicative of an imminent downturn. As the Federal Reserve increases borrowing costs and supply chain problems continue running rampant across the globe, savvy business leaders are looking for ways to prepare for the problems ahead. The priority is to increase efficiency and predictability while keeping companies agile in the face of continued uncertainty. At Centage, we’re committed to equipping finance teams to meet this challenge by providing automated, cloud FP&A software solutions that make it easy to perform the detailed, bottom-up budgeting and sophisticated scenario analysis needed to spot risks and opportunities early. Read on to learn more about how investing in the right technology now can protect your business and set a path for success in the uncertain times ahead.

Tech Adoption Remains High

Despite the economic uncertainty, organization’s are still moving forward with digital business initiatives - especially when it comes to the office of finance. Companies are relying more and more on their CFOs and finance leaders to support strategic decision making because of the business performance data and analysis they can provide. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that technology adoption rates are still impressively high. Forward-thinking finance leaders are planning and forecasting more effectively, efficiently and more accurately thanks to modern, cloud-based automated solutions like Planning Maestro. These software solutions will become increasingly crucial offering greater visibility into and control over every aspect of financial management and planning—not just twice a year or quarterly, but continuously. In the long run, companies will be able to use financial planning processes for a wide array of applications and departments, from sales to marketing, HR to procurement, IT to forecasting. The result will be increased automation and superior business outcomes.

Tech Priorities Moving Forward

Technology priorities are shifting in accordance with the newest developments and a coming economic downturn. As digitization becomes the norm, CFOs are discovering the benefits of automating certain tasks within a company and updating manual processes to make them more efficient. So how are CFOs shifting their goals for 2023? Recent surveys indicate that financial leaders are most focused on financial planning and analysis (41 percent), followed by ERP (34 percent). Treasury management and cash forecasting ranked third at 31 percent. 

There are myriad benefits associated with making FP&A a focus in the coming months. Recognizing that financial planning teams have a heavy workload, CFOs are quickly discovering that automating tasks like data preparation saves time for more sophisticated analysis. Additionally, financial executives are using FP&A technology to do the following:

  1. Increase business agility
  2. Improve visibility
  3. Save time and avoid errors
  4. Streamline data integration
  5. Improve decision-making
  6. Promote collaboration across teams and departments

With better FP&A, your organization can respond to the situation on the ground, making business changes quickly. By creating multiple scenarios and testing their impact, you’ll improve business agility and meet the challenges of constant change. And you’ll be confident in knowing built-in safeguards ensure the financial integrity of any data you enter.

Choosing the Right FP&A Software

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of technology and modern FP&A software, how do you choose the right one for your organization?

Whether your company is finally moving from a spreadsheet-based system, looking to migrate from another package, or starting from scratch, purchasing FP&A software is no small undertaking.

Even setting cost aside, there are many things to consider when vetting potential FP&A software. Evaluating the software means understanding what it can do for you today, tomorrow, and well into the future.

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

After spending months evaluating features and software vendors, the last thing a team wants to do is wait months more to begin using it. Yet, with some FP&A solutions, waiting is required because of extensive implementation processes and timelines.

Not only does this push out the time before you can begin reaping the benefits of the platform, it drives up costs and disrupts the 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 software.

If, however, the platform is cloud-based, implementation time from IT may be minimal, costs are reduced, and disruption to the existing process can be all but eliminated.

2: What’s the learning curve?

Learning a new 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 platform. Beyond that, some FP&A software mirrors the complexity of the application’s inner workings in the user interface – or put another way, the software just isn’t easy to use.

When considering different FP&A software pay attention to how easy the software is to use. Is there a high learning curve and a lot of training just to get up and running? How easy is it to create reports? Can the finance team manage the software internally, or will they need IT’s help?

Whatever software you choose, make sure the vendor is ready and willing to help you with any questions you run into during set up and use.

3: What’s the technology stack?

When investing in FP&A 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.

For the solution to be fast, efficient, and take advantage of the ability to import and integrate data from a multitude of sources, it must be built on current technologies. Advanced functions, like dashboarding and reporting, require the application to utilize the underlying technology to the fullest. When choosing a cloud-based solution, it should be able to leverage the power of the cloud to give you fast and accurate results.

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. Applications developed on dated technology will have a difficult time with security updates and patches. Cloud-based solutions mean your application is kept up to date and secure, all of the time, with no intervention from you.

4: How flexible is the FP&A software?

Flexibility and availability are key to getting the wide variety of input needed for an accurate budget. If your FP&A software doesn’t allow for collaboration or requires the finance team to reconcile data from multiple sources, the company can miss opportunities or experience detrimental data errors.

The tool you purchase should also be more than just a budgeting tool. The platform is an investment and with the right features and functionality should help the business budget, forecast, analyze, and understand where the company is and where it is headed.

About Planning Maestro

Planning Maestro, a cloud platform, makes sophisticated budgeting, planning, and forecasting easy and accessible. Intuitive automation accelerates workflows and improves accuracy, enabling Finance leaders to deliver reliable information and meaningful insights at the speed of business—without straining their resources. Centage gives Finance professionals the tools needed to thrive in today’s dynamic economy, backed by a team committed to their success.

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