Top 7 tell-tale indicators that you shouldn’t Budget in Excel

Top 7 tell-tale indicators that you shouldn’t Budget in Excel

Key finance personnel know Budgeting in Excel is inefficient and fraught with risk. How does your business rank on these key indicators:

  1. Lots of budget contributors. If you are undertaking the whole planning cycle within finance, you can most likely oversee the process to ensure integrity, but as soon as planning involves other departments, such as salespeople or cost centre managers, control is lost.
  2. Large number of Cost Centres/Locations. If your organisational chart is simple, great, but if your budget models suffer from mega-sized workbooks with 6 or more worksheets and linked workbooks, then you’re already exceeding the limits of what is easily manageable in Excel. We’ve seen first-hand Excel workbooks with over 150 sheets, all consolidating to a master sheet – what a nightmare.
  3. Multiple budget iterations. Your board approves the first budget and its happy days. Not likely. We know budgets typically go through multiple cycles – the more versions you have to do, the greater the pain. Integrated security and auditability become paramount, so you know what has changed from one version to the next and by who.
  4. The need to re-forecast. So you’ve locked in your budget and that’s it for 12 months. Hardly. Most businesses will at least do a quarterly re-forecast, whilst others will be continually hijacked by the monthly rolling forecast. Clearly, if you are planning more frequently, then the ROI for a fit for purpose solution is more clear-cut.
  5. Complexity of Revenue modelling beyond top line sales. If you budget down to customer groups or product groups (or both) across multiple locations, you will soon hit the limits of Excel.
  6. Bottom up budgeting is a curse. Top down budgeting quite often is more suitable and ‘does the job’ in a fraction of the time, but Excel can only go bottom up.
  7. Balance Sheet & Cash flow Budgeting. You’d like these to simply ‘fall out’ of the P&L Budget, but it becomes yet another arduous step in the process.

Where do you start?

So you decide a fit-for-purpose budgeting solution is a must-do, where do you start?

The Corporate Performance Management (CPM) market has seen a steady increase in solution providers over last few years. They all claim to be the best, but don’t be fooled by the marketing rhetoric. QMetrix consultants have helped businesses implement CPM solutions for many years and we choose to work with only the market leaders – Adaptive Planning for cloud and TM1/Cognos Express for on-premise.

Let’s be honest, they both have their strengths and weaknesses (no software tool is perfect), but in the main, they do a great job in taking the best features of Excel and leaving the problems behind. Allow us to do a free evaluation and recommendation to assist your business in moving away from Excel. (See attached whitepaper that discusses the current CPM offerings).

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Letting go of Excel

You’ve spent months building your excel budget model and debugging it over the years. Like your own baby, with all the care and attention you’ve invested, you can’t give it up.

This is a common reaction to the prospect of moving from Excel, after all, accountants love Excel – it makes us feel like creative geniuses in an otherwise (sometimes) repetitive monthly routine. No fret, tools such as Adaptive Planning allow you to build your own models – if you are an Excel expert, Adaptive Planning is a breeze.

Adaptive Planning was founded by an ex-CFO and it really does takes the best bits of Excel (it’s look and feel) and combines it with a solid platform supporting multi-users, workflow, auditability, and security. With a few hours training, you’re up and running and you (and your business) will never look back.

Brett Ruwoldt is a Director of QMetrix and has worked in a senior finance role for over 10 years, so he can appreciate the pains and pressures of budgeting and forecasting using Excel. Contact us for more information on the benefits of having a planning tool, as well as a free proof of concept trial.