In Ventana Research’s recent finance benchmark report, only 24% of those surveyed reported issues with their planning and budgeting software. At face value, it seems as if most FP&A departments are happy with their software, even if it’s the tried-and-true, but much maligned spreadsheet.
However, as the report points out, digging deeper into the findings reveals more than that simple percentage. Forty-six percent of respondents identified their top challenge as process design, with the next two issues, analytics use and data availability and quality, following closely behind at forty-five and forty-four percent each.
If the finance team is still using spreadsheets, a straight line from each of these issues can be drawn back to the software being used. Software remains a tool, and any craftsman will tell you that there are multiple tools that can be used to get a job done. The tool you use for planning and budgeting, however, can make your job easier or more manual and complex, and remedy or contribute to the biggest issues an FP&A team faces.
FP&A Software Features
If you’re addressing these, and many other, budgeting and planning issues by researching a switch to new FP&A software, what are the features that you need? Here are a few that you should look for when choosing the right software for you.
Addressing the challenge of process design can look different depending on the software you’re using. You could spend loads of man-hours programming spreadsheets with rules for your business, only to have those spreadsheets break when an unexpected input or new customization is added. Or, you could use software that makes customizing the system an important and simple part of setup.
FP&A software should be able to automate the flow of data input and enforce business rules based on your customizations. And those customizations should not require intervention from IT or an Excel expert to implement. Customization should be straightforward and user friendly.
Budget time can be slowed when the software used only allows one user to access and edit the data at a time, or worse, if data integrity isn’t enforced as multiple users provide inputs. Waiting in line for the budget or finance teams being forced to validate and re-validate inputs is inefficient.
Your FP&A software should allow multiple users to access the data at the same time while maintaining data integrity across budgets and planning.
Just as your finance team doesn’t exist without the rest of the company, your planning and budget software shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. For instance, your software should connect to your general ledger. But there is no reason to stop there. There are multiple integrations between your FP&A software and other business software that can give a complete view of the organization for accurate and holistic analysis. This leads to better planning and decision making.
Ease of Implementation and Maintenance
One of the benefits of spreadsheets is they require little to no involvement from your overloaded IT team to install and set up. It’s possible to switch to new software and have that still be the case.
Many FP&A software packages are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), meaning that the application lives off-site, in the cloud, alleviating the need for IT intervention and maintenance. Cloud solutions also tend to be cost effective and scalable, while also being accessible from almost anywhere.
Unified Data View
A database of record means that the finance team never worries about if they are working from the most recent version of the planning and budget data. Errors are avoided because the data comes from a single source, and analytics and reporting is simplified – no consolidation is required before analysis can begin.
A carpenter can attach a screw with a screwdriver, or they can use a drill to make the same process easier and more efficient. Using the right tool for the job makes the job itself easier. Having the right features FP&A software features available for your planning and budgeting teams can remove inefficiencies in the process while improving accuracy.
Small to mid-market organizations rely on Centage Corporation’s Maestro Suite, which includes Budget Maestro™, for the FP&A software features they need. 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.