Financial Planning Software For Professionals – Spreadsheet solutions are an easy way to aggregate and analyze simple data sets and perform best when used for their intended purpose, light reporting, discrete analysis, and moderately complex calculations.
However, finance and FP&A teams turn to budgeting software for more complex use cases such as enterprise planning and performance management.
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The new generation of agile CFOs and FP&A departments get the best ROI from using the right tools for specific needs, whether it’s high-level reporting or more detailed financial modeling.
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Read on as I break down the differences between spreadsheets and budgeting software. I’ll also share how to balance the two solutions when it comes to budgeting, analysis and reporting.
How fair is it to compare spreadsheets to budgeting software in the first place? It’s like asking your local bakery if their donuts double as Frisbees.
You could technically use a spreadsheet solution for most things best thought of with planning software, but your results will be at least subject to if not completely inaccurate.
That’s because spreadsheets, by design, don’t meet the requirements of FP&A. Check out the table of differences between spreadsheets and budgeting software:
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It is now clear that budgeting software is clearly working to meet FP&A requirements. You might think I’m biased, but this comparison would look very different if we were evaluating the usefulness of spreadsheets for, say, quick exploratory data analysis.
If that didn’t convince you, here are more thoughts on why spreadsheet-based FP&A is a bad idea.
The main reason financial professionals develop their financial models on spreadsheets is that it’s easy to get started.
Spreadsheet solutions such as Excel and Google Sheets have built-in formulas to link and repeat sheets and values. You can pre-define chart styles, customize datasets and perform automatic data calculations.
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Problems arise as models become more complex as data begins to increase, both in volume and source. And then financial models break down under pressure from:
Spreadsheets do the job when you’re planning at the conceptual level. However, when you look at cross-functional data elements such as cash flow, workforce planning, sales forecasting, and more, they are not flexible or dynamic enough to support these functions.
Building a checking system on top of financial models is difficult, making spreadsheets unreliable and dangerous.
Despite the many features of spreadsheets, they are, by their very nature, designed for use by a single user. Version control is a big challenge with spreadsheets because they were never designed to have multiple authors, to calculate large datasets or to integrate with hundreds of documents.
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First, version control issues lead to confusion about where the numbers came from, which department or team member is responsible for what, and even which numbers are correct.
Second, spreadsheet documents are difficult to maintain. Difficulties with access control, change tracking and auditing or introducing new bugs can lead to a painful remediation process. When multiple editors have access to the same paper comes the problem of headlines and inaccuracies.
When the FP&A specialist needs to gather input from multiple stakeholders, it can take weeks. An analyst must collect a significant number of spreadsheets, combine them into one version, and ensure that the data is accurate.
88% of spreadsheets contain at least one error, according to this Forbes article and many, many other studies.
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Now calculate the time your team spends regularly reviewing models, finding and correcting errors, setting macros and optimizing your models. Imagine having to repeat this process every time leaders seek answers.
Acquiring and consolidating data from multiple business applications, vendors and departments is a nightmare. The dynamic nature of modern businesses requires the implementation of financial modeling software.
FP&A teams are well aware that change is inevitable in business. It comes from external factors such as economic downturns, market fluctuations or macroeconomics that affect the product or service.
Sometimes the changes are not so favorable and the finance teams are asked to support restructuring, reduce costs or drop unprofitable lines of business. That’s why it’s important to take on such a life-changing responsibility with the right software for the job:
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If your FP&A team were to put together an ideal wish list of what they wanted to confidently predict and report, it would include everything I’ll go through below – but it would probably include the humble spreadsheet.
Our budgeting software, Pigment, has all the key features – plus a spreadsheet we’ve officially called Sheet View™. It allows you and your team to work in a familiar environment while still being embedded within the organizational platform.
Just an excel plugin or something so temporary. Just as you need a single click to convert a table to a table, turn your tables and charts into editable spreadsheets that allow you to feed your side calculations back into the model, all with the click of a button.
When decisions affect multiple stakeholders, you need dedicated business planning software to answer serious questions in three ways with a native scenario:
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You need a tool that can scale to your complex problems and reveal the best answer to what-if questions. As a bonus, Sheet View is a great space to check your assumptions aside.
Cross-departmental collaboration is key to successful budgeting – after all, the input of one department usually depends on the output of another!
That’s why FP&A teams need increased visibility and reduced friction to increase planning confidence and improve decision-making across the enterprise.
Your team also has an important task to consider: providing a secure and easy-to-use environment for decision-making managers to ensure that all the numbers are in the right place.
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Cue Sheet View, a familiar environment with none of the drawbacks of going back to spreadsheets. Through this catalytic partnership, you will break down data silos by:
Using Sheet View solves the main problem of enterprise data security for critical financial data while maintaining your flexibility for reflection.
You still get brownie points for integrating powerful financial modeling software into your CFO’s technology stack and protecting the integrity and security of business data.
There’s no shame in a finance team that likes spreadsheets. But are you getting the most bang for your buck?
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If you’re thinking of ditching Excel entirely in favor of a modern budgeting platform, it might be a big step – and it is. For more complex use cases like enterprise planning and performance management, it’s the right move. But when you need to do quick and simple special calculations and sanity checks, you may need a simple spreadsheet.
The best way to drive better decisions is to use the right tool for your specific needs – with Hue and our new Sheet View feature, you now have one platform to handle all your planning needs, from the most complicated to the simplest! While the move towards technology-enabled remote wealth management was already underway, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly accelerated the pace at which investment advisors need to choose the right software to support their businesses and serve on their clients.
Find out why digital wealth management tools are only growing in demand and our top recommendations for the best software for investment advisors, which we’ve selected based on the expertise we’ve developed working closely with professionals financial as well as DIY High Net Worth individuals (HNWIs).
The uncertainty caused by the pandemic led to many assets to be protected turning to financial advisers for the first time. In fact, in 2020, more than 70% of consultants noticed an increase in clients.
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Technology that makes remote financial management possible. More than 60% of HNWIs say they are comfortable discussing financial information with an advisor through virtual channels.
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