If you’re looking to convince your organization that there is a need for FP&A software, it may seem like an uphill battle. For many organizations, Excel is deeply embedded in the planning and budgeting process. Convincing your company to spend money on new software when there is, essentially, free software that is doing the job might be a challenge.
The key to making a successful business case for financial planning and analysis software isn’t in showing the cost savings it can bring – at least not at first. There is a better path to building the case that is more likely to lead to a yes.
Steps to Building a Solid Business Case for FP&A Software
Here’s something surprising – the best way to build a business case for software is to define if you even need the software. Understanding the need, first, before presenting the features and cost of a software package – be it planning software or anything else – will create a strong case that is difficult to deny.
So, instead of building a list of potential vendors and a features comparison chart, start with asking yourself what you’re trying to accomplish.
Step 1: Establish Your Goals
If you’re considering a move from Excel to a dedicated FP&A software, or from your current planning software to something better suited to your needs, start with understanding what those needs are.
Do budgets take too long? Do you need what-if scenarios to meet the company’s stated growth goals? Are reports inaccurate? Do you need forward-looking balance sheets and cash flow reports for the bank and investors?
And what about your co-workers and other members of the organization that have an interest in the process? Perhaps they identify different goals. As you begin to define the problem – or problems – you’re looking to solve, make sure that the parties that are impacted by this decision have an opportunity to give input.
Step 2: Dig into Your Goals
Once you know what you’re really trying to achieve, examine how your current process fails you. If you’re trying to speed up the budgeting process, perhaps the overhead of using Excel is slowing you down. If rolling budgets are a better solution for your organization, how does your current process prevent an effective move to a different budgeting system?
Don’t just look at where your current software fails you. Examine – and ask co-workers – where your internal processes are creating part of the problem. Identifying the holes in your processes will allow you to understand and communicate where they can be improved. This will lead you right into how a new software will accomplish these improvements, making it clear to leadership that you’ve considered all avenues before suggesting a potential substantial purpose.
Step 3: Understand the Concerns
Don’t wait until you’re ready to present your business case to start engaging potential stakeholders, like leadership and your technical team. Once you understand the goals as well as the challenges, you can start shopping the idea around.
Leadership may already know of a project being launched to address your exact goals and put you in touch with the team working on that problem. Your IT team may have decided to only approve new software that is in the cloud. By discussing your proposal with stakeholders before you narrow down the choice, you’re less likely to get shot down because you weren’t aware of a recent policy change or organizational need.
Step 4: Evaluate FP&A Software Vendors and Build Your Case
The last step is to begin the evaluation of potential vendors and a cost analysis. With all of the preparation work that you’ve done to this point, you’ll have a clear vision of what the planning software must do to solve the challenges that your team is faced with and reach the goals you’ve identified.
With the challenges and goals in mind, and the concerns of IT and leadership in the front of your mind, it should be easy to shortlist two or three vendors that meet your needs. If any have shortcomings, call those out in your business case, and discuss how they would be addressed to still meet the company’s needs.
These steps will lead you to a solid business case for the purchase of FP&A software that addresses the needs of the organization, understands the current challenges, and takes the current business climate into account. In essence, it answers leadership’s questions before they ask them, making it easier for them to approve the purchase of new planning software.
Small to mid-market organizations rely on Centage Corporation’s Maestro Suite, which includes Budget Maestro™, to help them meet their financial planning and analysis objectives. Budget Maestro improves the efficiency and effectiveness of business budgeting and planning, financial forecasting, financial consolidation and reporting processes. For more information, take a tour of Budget Maestro, contact Centage, or call 800-366-5111 now.