Whether it’s month-end, or time to produce the next rolling re-forecast, or that meeting with your bank, do you pick up the same set of multiple Excel files and struggle to import data from multiple sources and keep your fingers crossed that all the links work fine?
But wait a moment. Was it you that designed the bundle of Excel workbooks? Or was it a colleague or set of colleagues who have long since left? And what happens when new sales categories, channels and customers are added, or other changes need to be made? And do all the data from the finance, sales, other ERP and HR systems just ‘flow in’ easily? Do you have to go through a laborious process of import, followed by validation checks?
Worse still, when it comes to re-forecasting, or producing that important presentation to shareholders, lenders and banks, how does the model standard up to external scrutiny? Can you run and compare all the scenarios required? Can you pinpoint how precisely the Balance Sheet and Cash Flow forecasts are being driven? Are you confident in the forecast KPI’s, and that banking covenants will be met in full, or in the need for additional finance?
Instead of having a grasp of the figures, does ‘time run out’ as everything becomes ‘complicated and prone to error’.
Don’t worry, you are not alone!
Well-known problems – ready and able solutions
These problems are very common. They are unavoidable if you rely on Excel. You have to rely on multiple workbooks which are frequently opaque, tough to change, and contain ‘fragile links’. They lack modern multiple-dimension reporting, and are fundamentally ‘single user and single version’. This makes it impossible to share with confidence, a single ‘live’ version of the truth between directors and managers.
In today’s environment, made more acute by covid-19, the time delays and process inefficiencies of relying on Excel for the financial planning and reporting of your business, become unacceptable.
You are probably aware that there are alternative solutions available, but which one is best suited for your business? It should take care of all the back-office links; enable managers to plan and report quickly in the way they need; and deliver an integrated P&L, B/S and C/F forecast, enabling directors and managers to ‘make the right decisions more quickly’.
You may be less aware that the best systems can be implemented to do all of this quickly and inexpensively. The return on investment is very high, and the implementation project need not take people away from their ‘day job’.
Step by Step Approach
A good starting point is to check-out the functionality of your current financial planning and reporting process against a checklist of a replacement corporate performance management database system. This will highlight the areas where your current process is costing you money, for example in time-consuming activity, in lack of needed business modelling capability to support good decision making, and in limitations on reporting.
A brief analysis of this will enable you to define the immediate priority improvement areas, and a wider road-map of secondary priorities that you will want to know can be integrated later.
This approach will enable you to include all of the potential improvement areas that you prioritise into a single integrated solution. For example, a single model to cover both in-year and multiple-year forecasting; and to include both the management reporting pack and scenario plan modelling for meetings with external lenders etc. If your business comprises multiple entities and uses multiple currencies you will also want to know that the system chosen handles these and includes simple drag and drop multiple dimensional reporting.
Functionality and user experience are the benchmarks
Having made the decision to replace your current process with a modern integrated financial planning and reporting solution (sometime referred to as ‘corporate performance management’) you will want to select a system that meets all of your needs. This means being a ‘true business application’ with many ‘out-of-the-box features, including easily configured B/S and C/F planning objects, drag & drop capability for charts of accounts & reporting, easy connection to any ERP system, and easy integration with any BI/Analytics solution. And that it handles any and multiple reporting needs, eg UKGAAP, IFRS, and more.
You will want to assure yourself that it is easy to build and easy to manage without on-going consultancy or IT department support. Also, that it offers options for on-premise and cloud-hosting, and with access via web-browser, standard client and dashboard client.
This can all be summed up by:
- Comprehensive integrated planning capability
- Reporting & analysis functionality
- Ease of use, user experience & ‘self-service’
- Business benefits & value
Find out more, take the next step
Find out for yourself via a personal web demonstration with your agenda how you can transform your integrated financial planning and reporting, saving time and money and assisting directors and managers to make better decisions for your business.
See for yourself how integrated financial planning and reporting software can help you.