If you are reading this article, it is probably because you hate your budgeting and planning process.
Does it take too long to complete the entire budgeting cycle? Is it not helping you make sound business decisions? Is the data out of date before you even get it all done? Are the others in the organization manipulating the figures too much? Are there too many budget iterations? Does the process let people get away without being held accountable? Are you still baffled where the bottlenecks are coming from?
Whatever your issues are with your budgeting and planning process, there are a few things that you probably understand by now.
First, you probably understand it is hard to link your strategy and business when your budgeting process is broken. Second, that it is expensive to perform budget creation when most of your finance team´s time is spent on tasks other than analysis and third, the numbers in your budgets are simply unreliable and borderline useless.
So given that you already are in a position to finally invest in a good budgeting and planning tool because you are tired of all the problems associated with budgeting, just how do you know the budgeting and planning software you are looking at is the ”right” solution for your organization?
Every business is unique and therefore, what works for others may not work for your type of business so it is important to keep in mind that whatever tool you choose, it must first and foremost make sense to your business.
Anyway, here is a run down of how to know it is the right budgeting and planning solution.
- Is that budgeting and planning tool a unified solution?
Many years ago, it was said that having just one solution to do reporting and analysis, budgeting and planning, financial forecasting plus financial consolidation is not a good idea because it is a classic case of jack of all trades, master of none.
We argue that this premise now applies only to mediocre software. In the last couple of years, we have seen software vendors push their solutions to the limit. The competition has gotten fiercer and technology has gotten smarter. Finance decision makers have also improved in articulating what they envision and exactly what they want to see.
Today, it is not an issue finding a software that can perform reporting & analysis, budgeting & planning, financial forecasting, and financial consolidation in equal, robust measures. So when you are choosing between options, choose the solution that is already unified that can effectively execute the entire process end to end without any significant compromises. Your organization probably has enough systems to contend with, you don´t need more than 1 tool to perform the entire budget process.
You do not have to start with all of them at once. You can begin with just budgeting and planning and once everything is working as it should, you can move on to other aspects like reporting and analysis and so on. What is important is that you have that option to grow.
Curious what this unified solution looks like? Here is an example – Performance Canvas Financials.
- Does that budgeting and planning solution offer cloud and on premises deployment?
While many agree that moving to the cloud is the way forward, the truth of the matter is that if your organization is not ready, it is not ready. Plain and simple.
Therefore, the right budgeting and planning solution should provide you two options of deployment – on premises and cloud. This is important because you may want to run on premises to start with and then slowly transition to the cloud later.
So if that solution you are looking at is strictly only cloud and your organization feels it is not ready, just start slow and test the waters first through an on premise budgeting and planning solution or vice versa depending on your company´s strategy.
After all, deploying a solution that is meant to help your organization must be at a pace and manner that your organization is comfortable with. This is about what works for your organization, not what others say.
- Is there a single chart of accounts and consistent costing methodology across the tool?
In finance, structure is everything. Imagine if you didn´t have an effective, structured, and logical way of grouping or filing. It will be so easy to lose track of things.
Does that software you are evaluating come with a single, default chart of accounts that you can modify based on your business type? If yes, that is a good start.
It is also important that the software you are evaluating offers a consistent costing methodology in order to improve overall accuracy and optimise.
If your budgeting and planning solution is to help your management with sound advise on how to optimise business practices and processes based on cost efficiency and capability, you better make sure there is consistency in the entire solution.
- Can it integrate with your ERP and other line of business systems?
If the budgeting and planning solution you are evaluating cannot integrate or facilitate a frictionless flow of information across your existing systems, walk away. It is not worth your time and effort. You are only inviting unnecessary work.
Find a solution that can integrate with your ERP system and other line of business systems. Find a solution that is system agnostic so that even if you are still battling with legacy systems in your organization, you know there is a way to make things work.
Your new budgeting and planning solution must make things easier for you, not harder. It should afford you more time to analyse, not let you add more work to your current load.
- Does the solution constantly require tailoring?
For those who are fairly new to this software hunt, it is easy to get tricked. You have a bunch of very talented sweet talkers trying to tell you everything can be done because their solution can be tailored to your business.
While being able to tailor a solution to your business is not necessarily a bad thing, you must always ask exactly what they mean by tailoring. You should ask how much of these solutions are delivered through off-the-shelf modules and how much of it needs to be customised. Requiring too much tailoring for your organization means more consulting and more money down the road.
If the solution ends up being heavily customised, the slightest change you want to do in the future will require even more tailoring. Managing the software on your own later without external consultants will also be impossible.
Find a solution that can deliver best practices through ready-to-use modules that can be easily tweaked. Check out Performance Canvas Financials for this kind of off-the-shelf finance logic.
What would you like to do next?