When it comes to budget planning software, organizations often struggle to get the right balance between ease of use and reliable solutions that meet transitional corporate needs. Budgeting, planning, and forecasting processes all need to be designed so that users understand what has to be done, while still remaining reliable sources of trusted corporate information.

As in Search ERP Blog, the following  are key features to look for in budget management software and the benefits they provide:

1. Built For Comfort

Budgeting software should be easily understandable and adoptable by all the team members from the CFO, bookkeepers and cost-center managers and the ability to leverage with Excel is most important.

 2. Workflow

Budgeting software should allow you to build in workflow automation and a control system that can remove a lot of the hassle of dealing with email. Being able to view at a glance what manager needs to approve the budget next, who still hasn’t seen it, and what the next steps are results in easier collaboration and more efficient and productive communication.

 3. Simple Reports

Financial budgeting software should provide a simple report generation process, that shows you how you are following your budget in a periodic time period.

4. Multidimensionality and business intelligence

If the organization wants to budget by region, product, time frame and the like, it is better to be able to capture these factors in multidimensional data structures. Doing so makes it easy to perform top-down analyses and gain greater insights into the underlying data. Coupling such multidimensionality with business intelligence software enables a rich set of queries, analyses, what-ifs, and simulations.

5. Planning and forecasting

With the Budgeting software platform, you are able to anticipate your organization’s performance. Also, gaps between forecasts, targets, and actuals, analyze root causes by slicing and dicing multidimensional data to spot trends, assess the impact of alternative courses of action, and enable effective decision-making.

6. Web availability

In an era of global interconnection, most people are traveling and on the go. One of the critical success factors for a newly deployed budgeting and planning solution is that all its users are able to work regardless of where in the world they are.

7.Easy deployment and maintenance

Before choosing your budgeting software you need to make sure that deployment is not rocket science otherwise you will spend thousands of dollars trying to find a specific consultant that can deploy the solution. Also, you need to make sure that your team owns the application so that the maintenance can be handled by them.

Using Excel As your Budgeting Software:

All sizes of organizations will use to excel for their budgeting and planning purpose. In this section, we are going to analyze more about the merits and demerits of excel as a budgeting and planning software.

Why Finance People Love Excel

  • Trusted numbers are the heartbeat of any budgeting, planning, or forecasting process. And whenever you’re talking numbers, Excel is clearly king.
  • Anyone involved in finance and accounting has known Excel for years, and you’ll find it in every corporate Finance department the world over. Unfortunately, some of the reasons Excel is so popular are also its key limitations for the enterprise; it’s very flexible and powerful but also intuitive and widely adopted.
  • Excel has More than 400 built‐in functions and sophisticated modeling and analysis capabilities that make it among the most powerful, flexible and mostly used applications in business.
  • Excel has its web availability you can access with any operating system using the web version (office 365).

Challenges of Using Excel as Budgeting Software

Just because Excel has a lot of features, it doesn’t mean that it’s the perfect tool for the enterprise. In fact, Excel does have important limitations for medium to large-sized businesses, including the following:

  • Data integrity issues – Users can easily change or modify important data or formulas in carefully designed finance templates.
  • Integration With Other Systems-  Integrating actuals and other systems (ERP, CRM )data into your Excel is essential to automating user input and maintaining the integrity of your numbers. In Excel, the user has to copy-paste the data from the source system which is a hugely time-consuming process.
  •  Manual consolidations: Organizations have to consolidate the information from multiple copies of Excel worksheets across numerous different business units. Manual consolidations like this not only take quite a bit of time, but even the smallest error in the process can completely invalidate the results.
  •  Lack of audibility: It’s easy for colleagues to make changes to your spreadsheets. To further complicate matters, Excel lacks any robust, built-in mechanism for tracking who made what changes and when.
  •  No process management: It’s vital to know that everyone involved in planning and budgeting has actually completed all assigned tasks and that they have been reviewed and approved, especially in large organizations. Unfortunately tracking tasks simply isn’t a feature of Excel. As a result, you’ll almost certainly revert back to endless emails to chart progress and keep everyone on track.

Excel as your Budget planning Software Using PivotXL

Here are some of the features that PivotXL provides with the Combination of excel add-in,

✓ Effective, real‐time collaboration: Excel needs to be formatted so that users can easily understand when and where they’re expected to add their input, with all their edits tracked in detail.

✓ Easy to set up process flows, business rules, permissions, and version control. It needs to be easy for managers to set up workflow and approval processes, and apply the security and business rules by which all users can work with their spreadsheets and underlying data.

✓ Enhanced visibility to workflow statuses and user actions: You want it to be simple and straightforward for everyone to know what’s expected next.

Accessible audit trail and controls throughout – There must be an effective audit trail so that you can tell who made what changes, when they made them, and why.

✓ Change once, replicate everywhere: Everyone needs to have visibility and access to data that’s accurate and up to date. No matter how many users or spreadsheets, you need a single source of truth in your numbers.

Excel With Cloud storage

One big problem with using Excel worksheets, for corporate data is that everyone is working with a copy of the data that isn’t updated when another user makes changes. Obviously, it’s important that you have real‐time, up‐to‐date data that’s automatically delivered to every user. The only way to achieve this goal is to have all your worksheets linked to a centralized database.

  • Multi-Tenant SaaS (Software as a Service) architecture: This design increases efficiency and performance while ensuring the highest level of data security.
  •  Automatic software updates: Your users are always on the latest version of the software with no hardware upgrades or IT involvement required.
  • Web access: Universal accessibility through the web promotes user collaboration with any time, anywhere access from any device.

Unlike other solutions that take entirely different extreme approaches to your budget planning software, PivotXL combines the best of both worlds (Excel + Budgeting Software) in a single solution.