In today’s economy, being quick and agile is a necessity for businesses. Most companies, especially small to mid-sized firms, use slow, antiquated, manual processes for their budget planning process that are typically out of date by the time the process is completed. While firms aspire to have a continuous process, many struggle to adopt programs due to the expense, complexity, and risks involved in adopting rolling forecasting.
There are end to end tools that exist for larger firms, but they require significant investment in both financial and dedicated human resources. Most small to medium sized firms struggle to dedicate these resources to a budget planning system.
According to BARC, 86% of firms use Excel for at least part of their planning process. In the same survey, respondents who used Excel exclusively spent, on average, 5 days to supply actuals and input budget data; three days to modify the data, and 3 days to perform data analysis. In total, 8 days were used for pulling and getting the data into a usable form for analysis. By contrast, firms that used a specialized planning tool spent only 4 days on average preparing the data and dedicated 5 days to analyzing it.
So what can small to medium sized firms do?
The issue is, most Excel-based tools have limited connectivity to the data and require a number of manual, timely processes to get the data into a usable form. There are tools that not only give you the comfort of Excel, but also address the significant issue of connectivity with the ERP systems. Excel add-ins allow small to medium sized firms to leverage their existing Excel spreadsheets, as well as provide the ability to integrate directly to their ERP system, eliminating the lag that exists with the current, manual process.
Excel related options tend to be much easier to adopt and cheaper than dedicated solutions, which is perfect for a small to medium firm to jump into the future with continuous forecast, but not break the budget with a dedicated solution. Excel4apps has created a number of these types of Excel add-ins you can integrate into your current financial process to start adopting a rolling forecast model, such as an add-in that allows for the batch upload of GL journal entries into the EBS General Ledger, and one that delivers real-time FICO data directly to Excel.
Implementing these Excel tools can help small to medium sized firms reduce the time and potential errors associated with using Excel alone, as well as avoid more expensive tools that might not be suited to their organization’s size and needs.