Automation and streamlining of budget processes are two very different things. Automation ensures tasks are accomplished faster whereas, streamlining ensures tasks are done smarter.
Forward-thinking organizations understand that traditional budgeting and planning practices have no place in a data-driven and fiercely competitive market. Companies that are able to figure out how to use their data more effectively get the chance to grow more rapidly.
For most finance departments wanting to do things better this year, the first suggestion on the table is always investment in new corporate performance management technology like Performance Canvas by DSPanel.
There is ofcourse, sound logic to investing in a new budgeting and planning solution in order to achieve a more agile and flexible budget process. However, it is worth noting that not all new budgeting and planning solutions have what it takes to both automate and streamline a budget process.
So when you evaluate a new budgeting and planning solution, what sort of budgeting and planning best practices must be incorporated in the software?
Below are some of the most important budgeting and planning best practices this 2018 that can bring about the needed change in the budgeting process.
- Use a performance-based framework
One of the known problems of budgeting is that it cannot sufficiently establish strong links between investments and outcomes. To counter this issue, adopting a performance-based framework ensures that resources are allocated to specific activities that are based upon very specific metrics. This type of framework allows for a deeper level of analysis and a greater understanding of return of investment because it can clearly demonstrate how a specific financial investment impacts the business through its outcomes.
- Include Analysis of Non-financial Data
The finance staff is accustomed to doing periodic analysis of budgets vs actuals. This is ofcourse a valuable analysis to do as it provides a clear picture of the organization´s current financial performance. However, there is more to budgets vs actuals. It is in the present years when many finance leaders have finally understood that a wholistic approach must be taken when an in-depth analysis is desired. This means that KPIs, operational metrics, and existing market conditions must be taken into consideration.
- Update Budgets As Needed
A common criticism of budget in practice is that it is inflexible. Once it has been decided, there is no room for change. However, material deviations during the year are to be expected and as such, a business must have the capability to assess the causes of these changes, its potential effects, and a company must be able to adopt accordingly and timely. Budget plans therefore, must be updated as necessary in order for it to reflect the current situation and for it to constantly remain relevant and useful.
- A Budget Should Contain Both Planning and Reporting Structure
Arguably all organizations budget using the same account structure or GL because this is usually tracked. The problem is that doing it this way usually gives a very vague picture of ongoing business operations. For a budget to truly make sense, it has to contain both planning and reporting structures because it needs to properly identify business strategies and priorities at the same time it has to be able to describe how different scenarios impact the business.
- Shift to Driver-based Budgeting
Driver-based budgeting is the most modern and sophisticated way of budgeting. It bases budgets and plans on key business drivers such as customers, unit of products, deliveries, etc. This type of budgeting provides better clarity and transparency because o fits utilization of mathematical and linked relationships in budgeting and it also makes use of preset calculations based on operational activities making it faster and less tedious to do.
- Use Details Only where it Matters
It is easy to put in too much or too few details when budgeting. It is important to know that details should only be used where it matters and that it is a good practice to have more details when planning short-term and to have lesser details for long-term planning.
- Perform What-if Analysis
In this type of economic climate, it is not unusual for disruptions or drastic changes to occur. It is therefore very important to ensure you have a budget that is flexible and has taken into consideration performance under varying scenarios. Performing multiple what-if analysis ensures that you carefully prepare and weigh in risks.
Performance Canvas by DSPanel
As previously mentioned, not all CPM solutions are created the same. Performance Canvas by DSPanel is a budgeting and planning solution that is designed not only to automate your budget process but more importantly to streamline it to ensure you have a sound and logical way of working.
Performance Canvas by DSPanel draws its strength from the fact it is designed by finance experts who dedicate a lot of time and energy into looking into current trends and best practices in budgeting and planning so that all these modern techniques are incorporated in the budgeting and planning solution.
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