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Today’s Business Budgeting; Can Your Spreadsheet Software Keep Up

September 14, 2021
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When it comes to business budgeting and planning, traditional spreadsheets are labor-intensive, prone to errors, and static, so it can be difficult to get a clear view on your current and future financial position.  With the fast pace of business change, CFOs need accurate financial information to make informed decisions on the fly.Accounting has evolved quite a bit since the early days of double-entry systems and general ledgers. And gone are the days when you could wait for a quarterly budget review to make decisions about corporate spending. Today’s business budgeting and financial planning solutions must provide business insight in real time and let budget owners and planners collaborate with confidence in numbers.

Change is here. Workstyles have evolved, and businesses are now operating with teams dispersed across homes and offices in different time zones and date zones. While styles of work are shifting, static spreadsheets have failed to keep pace. Once a time-saver, spreadsheets are now a problem-creator in today’s dynamic business climate.

Risk is real. Key among the perils associated with spreadsheets are latency and accuracy. Companies can’t get real-time insight from manual spreadsheets, and once a bad number has been entered into a worksheet or cell, it’s often extremely difficult to find and fix the error.  Compounded over many rows, even a simple mistake can lead to faulty financial data.And at that, there isn’t a company out there that is immune to spreadsheets errors. Large or small business that use spreadsheets are taking a risk:

  • Boeing leaked employees’ personal data in a hidden spreadsheet column.
  • An investment bank analysis of Tesla’s purchase of Solar City undervalued the company by $400 million after double-counting its debt in a spreadsheet.
  • A million-row limit on spreadsheet software caused Public Health England to misplace nearly 16,000 Covid test results, resulting in 15,841 positive tests being left off official daily figures.
  • Errors in a spreadsheet developed by Harvard University economists led to a massive adverse outcome for an academic analysis of the relationship between public debt and average GDP growth.

Why Spreadsheets are Bad for Budgeting

Signs It’s Time to Move Away From Excel for Your Business Budgeting and Planning

Spreadsheets were designed to save time by automating calculations. Yet, more time is spent reconciling spreadsheet data and troubleshooting formula errors that are difficult to identify. Here are some key indicators that it’s time to move off spreadsheets:“We Have Too Much Data.” - Tracking massive amounts of financial data across multiple workbooks and tabs becomes unwieldy over time and creates chaos that can confuse financial visibility.“We’re Spending Too Much Time Fixing Errors.” - One wrong number or keystroke error entered within a single cell can throw off an entire spreadsheet, at a substantial financial loss to the business.We Can’t Collaborate.” - Version control issues with spreadsheets can result in stakeholders reviewing the wrong version of a budget — or worse yet, updating an outdated budget. Spreadsheets are also often too large to email.“I’m Oversharing My Financial Data.” - The static nature of spreadsheets makes it difficult to hide sensitive information that doesn’t need to be shared with every budget owner.

A Solution for Modern Businesses - 6 Ways to Advance Business Budgeting and Financial Planning in the Cloud

Financial planning and analysis software like Planning Maestro empowers CFOs to make faster, more informed business decisions. It replaces static spreadsheets with a cloud-based financial tool that gives role-based access to data in real time. Planning Maestro allows you to access historical, current, and future budget and forecast data in one place, with advanced features for data analysis and projections. Here are 6 ways to advance business budgeting and planning with a modern, cloud-based solution:Integration

There’s nothing more frustrating than importing financial data in varied formats into different spreadsheets for analysis and planning. Siloed financial data can lead to false assumptions because insight isn’t based on a complete picture. Cloud-based business budgeting and financial planning tools integrate with popular general ledger, CRM, ERP, and other business systems to create a single source of truth without manual data transfer errors.AutomationThere’s no business value in the time financial staff spends creating complex formulas and macros across spreadsheets, not to mention the time needed to find and fix errors. Cloud-based business budgeting and financial planning tools have built-in accounting rules and business logic that eliminates the need for programming and formulas. This saves staff time and reduces errors, giving financial teams more time to act on information to move the business forward.

Remote CollaborationYou can’t finalize a budget that doesn’t have complete stakeholder input. Yet, the workforce today is hybrid, with budget owners and collaborators working in different remote locations. Cloud-based business budgeting and financial planning tools can be accessed by stakeholders from any device, at any time, from any location, with full confidence that they are viewing real-time financial data. This helps accelerate budget planning for virtual teams, so you can share critical information across the business.FlexibilityCloud-based business budgeting and financial planning tools uncover financial wins, losses, and red flags. They provide the flexibility to anticipate problems by running multiple what-if scenarios and building driver-based financial models. Unlike spreadsheets, which reveal a single dimension of financial performance, these tools can create rolling forecasts and instantly show changes based on key business drivers or market conditions.

ReportingCloud-based business budgeting and financial planning tools put financial reporting data at the fingertips of stakeholders and budget owners. They can create analytics-based reports and dashboards that can be accessed in real time based on roles. They can also display revenue reports at a granular level, by product, sales, region, salesperson, customer type, and other metrics crucial to the business. Unlike spreadsheets, reports are easy to build with a few simple keystrokes.SecuritySensitive salary, revenue, and spending data isn’t meant to be shared with everyone, and a leak of this type of sensitive data could expose your business to a lawsuit. Cloud-based business budgeting and financial planning tools keep financial data in a secure cloud, instead of a device that can be lost or stolen. Data is protected by access control, so sensitive information can be granted to authorized users only.

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