Vena Solutions is proud to present Enterprise Budgeting & Planning with Excel for Dummies, a new, free ebook written especially for CFOs, VPs of Finance, Finance Directors, Accountants and Controllers who want to improve their budgeting and planning processes without giving up their existing Excel investments and infrastructure.
In previous articles in this series, we looked at the main subjects and target audience of the book, and the central dilemma facing most enterprise finance leaders; to replace or embrace Excel spreadsheets.
In this article, we take a look at how to get the best of both worlds – the tool your team loves with the control you need. The solution lies in a handful of main principles.
Give users what they love (Excel)
Recognize that no matter what solution you adopt, your users – contributors, analysts, accountants and more – will continue to export data to Excel for manipulation, analysis and ad-hoc reporting. In fact, you may find your team spending MORE time in Excel after investing money, time and energy in trying to replace it.
Add workflow for collaboration and control
Workflow is an essential component of any modern finance solution, directly impacting your team’s collaboration capabilities, segregation of duties and data integrity. Specific workflow features to look for include:
- Effective, real-time collaboration;
- Easy to set up process flow, business rules and permissions;
- Reliable version control;
- Enhanced visibility into process status and user progress (e.g. department budget submissions).
Centralize data for accessible, trusted numbers
From a structural standpoint, one of the limitations of Excel on its own is that data is stored across multiple versions of dozens – if not hundreds – of spreadsheets authored by as many different users.
Getting the best of both worlds requires financial data be stored in a central, secure database with Excel as the interface into that data. This is all about a phrase you no doubt have heard before; having a single version of the truth. By taking this approach, you’ll change the way you look at Excel, with immediate and tangible benefits including:
- Minimizing human error;
- Reducing the number of spreadsheets to maintain;
- Reducing the time and effort of data gathering;
- Eliminating broken links and other spreadsheet errors;
- Providing sophistical reporting and analysis capabilities.
Commit to the cloud for security, scalability and performance
While mega-vendors and some niche-vendors are slowly making the move to cloud delivery, financial software as a whole is already there. If you don’t already know, a cloud-based solution offers:
- Reliability and efficiency with a multi-tenant cloud architecture;
- High performance features like In-Memory Computing (IMC) for handling big data;
- Automatic software upgrades in the background, with no need for IT involvement;
- Anytime, anywhere access through any web browser;
- Scalability up and out as your data, users and business needs grow.
The final chapter of Enterprise Budgeting & Planning with Excel for Dummies lays out a clear and concise 10-point checklist for choosing your ideal budgeting and planning solution. Use it for general guidance, for your existing consultants/VARs, or as the basis for an RFP.
To see the 10-point checklist, get your free copy of the book here.