Whether your company is finally moving from a spreadsheet-based system, looking to migrate from another package, or starting from scratch, purchasing budgeting and planning software is no small undertaking.
Even setting cost aside, there are many things to consider when vetting potential budgeting and planning platforms. 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 it?
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 financial planning and budgeting platforms, 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 offers a cloud-based solution, 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 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 budgeting and financial planning platforms, 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 a budgeting and financial planning software solution, 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 solution?
Flexibility and availability are key to getting the wide variety of input needed for an accurate budget. If your budgeting and financial planning solution 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.
For more information on what to look for when choosing budgeting and planning software, check out Centage’s Buyer’s Guide.
Centage Corporation’s Planning Maestro is a cloud-native planning & analytics platform that delivers year-round financial intelligence. With Planning Maestro, Centage offers the sophisticated features needed by small and mid-market organizations to integrate budgeting, forecasting, and deep data analysis within one easy-to-use, scalable SaaS solution. For more information on how to modernize your office of finance with intelligent planning, view our product demonstration video, or call 800-366-5111.