By Dean Dickinson, Managing Director of Advanced Business Solutions (PS&E Division)
Businesses seeking to capitalise on the strengthening UK economy should invest in budgeting and forecasting technology to unlock further efficiency savings and help drive future growth. The advice comes from leading business applications and services provider, Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced) after new official figures revealed that the UK’s inflation rate fell to 0% in February 2015, the lowest since records began.
Here are ten reasons why businesses should implement budgeting and forecasting software below.
1. Increased accuracy – By integrating with other back-office systems budgeting and forecasting solutions remove the guesswork when attempting to establish an organisation’s financial status. Up-to-date costs relating to projects and service usage figures are immediately accessible so that departmental budget managers can make informed decisions based on accurate information.
2. Faster approvals and authorisations – Spreadsheets emailed back and forth cause confusion as changes are rarely tracked. By providing built-in workflows and an embedded version history, budgeting and forecasting solutions minimise errors and speed-up approval processes. With clear visibility of progress department managers can more easily determine which areas to focus on.
3. Time savings – Staff time taken up by manually consolidating large volumes of financial data has significant cost implications through lost productivity. With the right software in place, businesses can reduce the process to produce an annual budget from several days to just minutes and better monitor and improve their financial performance.
4. True self-service – Introducing a single, centralised finance application enables financial responsibility to be devolved. Budget managers can enter their data directly and analyse it in different ways, generating reports on demand whilst being empowered to keep track of their spending against their original forecast.
5. Trusted processes – Integrated budgeting and forecasting systems ensure data is always submitted in the right format. Organisations can define processes upfront, set target dates and send reminders when financial information is due. Simple validation checks can also be built in to flag potential anomalies so that only trusted data exists.
6. Enhanced scenario planning – Unlike spreadsheets containing complicated macros, centralised budgeting and forecasting solutions make it easy to factor in different cost scenarios to cover any eventuality and support longer-term financial planning.
7. Freedom for central finance – Organisations that have moved to a centralised model cite the transformation of their finance team as a major benefit. By eliminating duplication of effort, finance professionals can devote more time to value-added activities such as financial analysis, risk management and strategic planning.
8. Alternative budgeting models – Smart budgeting goes beyond allocating and monitoring department expenditure. By providing real-time, accurate and consistent data, integrated systems enable forward-thinking organisations to make more informed decisions. They can also proactively conduct ‘what-if?’ scenarios analysis to better understand the implications of their actions and focus on capital planning and financial strategy.
9. Flexible reporting – Managers need to be able to quickly interrogate meaningful financial data. Budgeting and forecasting solutions emulate a similar environment to spreadsheets but offer greater flexibility and reporting efficiencies. By eliminating manually intensive processes the time taken to produce forecast reports can be reduced by up to 90%.
10. Clear efficiency savings – Integrated solutions streamline the entire budgeting cycle, bringing substantial efficiency savings. Parkwood Group, a leading provider of support services to the private and public sector, has reduced month-end reporting from 15 days to five days using Collaborative Planning.
The improving UK economy will encourage organisations operating in the commercial and private sectors to accelerate plans for growth. However many risk making ill-informed decisions by trusting unreliable information contained in spreadsheets to formulate their future strategy, potentially wasting valuable time and resources.
Integrated budgeting and forecasting solutions, such as Collaborative Planning, enable businesses to transform efficiency and adopt more rigorous controls to make their finances stretch further. By providing real-time and accurate information they assist organisations to more easily determine which of their products and services they should invest in to increase their competitive advantage.