What to Look for in a Budgeting and Forecasting Solution
Budgeting and forecasting for any organization involves multiple people bringing data and research together to plan for the future. Whether adapting to changes for the rest of the fiscal year or planning the next one, it is important to project revenue and expenses, and perhaps more specifically, balance sheet items and cash flow. There are numerous choices for enterprise budgeting and forecasting–including homegrown, an accelerated add-in to an already implemented tool, or independent software solutions. At AKA Enterprise Solutions we will compare and contrast your current budgeting and forecasting software to help you understand what option is best for your company.
Discovering the right functions and features to meet your budgeting and forecasting needs can be frustrating, and it often already seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day without sales meetings, demos, and training for new software. Therefore, it is vital to get a head start in understanding the options for planning – and understanding today’s solutions, as well as their features and capabilities.
To start, it helps to consider valuable and relevant features for budget managers. The arguably most valuable feature is the ease of use. Not many people get excited about budgeting or forecasting, so the process should be simple to follow and user friendly. Also, budgeting and forecasting software should allow for the reuse of budget templates, employ accounting and business logic, and be organically streamlined. In the context of how many people are involved, streamlining the budgeting process is especially important.
There might be a team of people putting together the budget – or it might be just one person, but either way, the process will require data from multiple moving parts. This is why collaboration is another significant concept. Budget collaboration can involve extensive, back-and-forth e-mail threads with attached spreadsheets, and then, the budget manager is obligated to link all of the data into one overall budget. But it doesn’t have to be that aggravating. There are solutions that empower contributing to a company-wide budget without the frustration and security concerns of manual spreadsheet files on a network file server or a long e-mail thread. However, with collaboration comes the matter of security – adding to the list of features to consider when seeking the right product.
Comparing actuals against projections is common for budgeting, oftentimes at the employee salary level, which is delicate material requiring security. Additionally, when department managers contribute to a budget, they don’t need to view the amount of money other departments get for the fiscal year. Consequently, the functionality to access and add to a budget without the data getting to anyone but the designated budget contributor should be a priority for most organizations. Moreover, the intensity of budgeting for a corporation of any size can be lessened if security in a budget program allows CFOs or budget managers to empower their department heads to contribute to the process – inviting managers to own the budget for their department. This article will use these three main features as a context to compare the following budgeting solutions: homegrown Excel budgeting, Microsoft Forecaster, Cognos, Hyperion, and Solver’s BI360.
To continue learning about what to consider when picking the best budgeting and forecasting tool for your company, read the rest of this article here.