Choosing the right budgeting and planning software will grant innumerable benefits over relying on manual entry with Excel spreadsheets for handling your financial reporting and forecasting. A modern solution hosted in the cloud (and integrated with your ERP) offers increased opportunities to leverage automation, improve collaboration and significantly speed up consolidation over legacy tools.
True Budgeting & Planning Software vs Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Excel, like the rest of the Microsoft 365 suite of applications, is an extremely useful utility for small groups of users that allows you to organize and record high-level data. However, it quickly hits its limits once both the volume and complexity of data grows, as they typically do for businesses that reach the SMB level and beyond. You need a true budgeting and planning system to streamline calculations, forecasting and reporting.
Here are 11 reasons why you should pick planning software over Excel spreadsheets:
Reporting with Visibility
Your business needs a single source of truth that Excel does not inherently provide, with limited collaboration, accessibility and visibility creating a risk of silos. A modern budgeting and planning solution is built to make reporting a more seamless and connected process that helps you make data legible for your key stakeholders.
Saving Time with Automation
Excel spreadsheets comes with very limited formulations and other basic automations designed to help with rudimentary tasks, not complex budgeting and forecasting. You need planning software that comes with prebuilt templates, visualized dashboards and seamlessly automated workflows to make life easier for your accounting team.
Accessing the Cloud
Applications built in the cloud generally feature access to the latest software advancements; however, though Microsoft Excel can be used and shared via Office Online, the SaaS functionality is very basic and not built for more complex budgeting. A more advanced, cloud-native planning software will give you a clearer pathway to the advantages of digital transformation, including real-time collaboration, fast implementation and open APIs for integration.
Enforcing Data Security
Spreadsheets only have basic permission controls at the user level, and locking down access to files is an IT function, while managing internal data security becomes a manual effort that your accounting department may not be equipped to handle. Modern budgeting and planning solutions supply you with reliable access controls that include role-based permission enforcement while still delivering visibility into KPIs to stakeholders outside the finance team.
Connecting Budgeting & Planning with ERP
There are limited options for bridging the data in Excel with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) database, the majority of which revolve around manual exports and imports that increase the time it takes to build reports and consolidate accounts. A dedicated budgeting solution built in the cloud will be able to integrate seamlessly with your ERP or accounting software, enabling you to sync data without having to bounce between multiple screens.
Achieving Better Forecasting
Building out forecasting models is very much a manual, time-consuming effort when relying on spreadsheets, a fact which actively discourages your team from creating and testing out new models. Modern planning software will enable you to leverage prebuilt templates and workflows to put together several testing scenarios to gain a better picture of your financial forecast against multiple variations.
Working with basic tools like spreadsheets means compliance has to be processed and reviewed manually, increasing the possibility of human error and the risk of nonconformance along with it. A budgeting and planning system will help you alleviate this with programed compliant forms, tables and more built for guidelines such as GAAP and IFRS.
Excel has limited validation features to double-check the accuracy – and appropriateness – of your data that at best often only identify very glaring mistakes, letting minor errors slip by and become big, very expensive issues (Ex: Magellan Fund Error). Migrating to an advanced planning solution will provide you with budgeting and reporting automation that will ensure better accuracy and consistency across your documentation.
Making Planning Scalable
The scope and volume of your data is guaranteed to change, and the last thing your business would want is to be unable to fully leverage your hard-earned growth because you are being held back by legacy tools like spreadsheets. A scalable budget and planning system will provide with the flexibility you need to expand or contract data inputs to accommodate fluctuating volumes and processes.
Granting Agility & Resiliency
The 2020 global pandemic demonstrated how disruption can occur at any time and in many forms; unfortunately, relying on static solutions like Excel will leave you even worse off as they are less capable of allowing you to pivot operations to adapt. Arm your team with the modern budgeting and planning tools they need to face new challenges and ensure business continuity against external developments.
Keeping Software Up to Date
Technology moves at an ever-increasing pace, for reasons from feature upgrades to patches for new exploits, but too many businesses lag behind updating because of the disruptions that may come with it. Migrating to a cloud-based planning solution will alleviate a lot of the associated pain with upgrading, as updates are delivered in the background, ensuring they are installed without disruption.
Accounting with Traceability
Individual spreadsheets are virtually proprietary assets before they are manually shared and linked to, yet simultaneously lack any real system of audit trails. Implementing a budgeting and planning system will help you guarantee traceability for all actions, as well as ensure that data is preserved even if a team member may leave.
See How Centage Planning Maestro Performs vs Spreadsheets
Planning Maestro (formerly Budget Maestro) by Centage is a modern, cloud-native budgeting and planning software that integrates seamlessly with your connected ERP general ledger and enables you to migrate your processes away from Excel. Discover more reasons why Planning Maestro outpaces what you can do in spreadsheets and see it in action by watching our webinar below.
Click here to sign up and watch our webinar to learn more about Planning Maestro and see it firsthand through a demo provided by SWK partner Centage.