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The 7 Best FP&A and Financial Planning Software Tools for 2023

November 22, 2022 Olivia MacDonald  
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Modern finance needs modern tools. 

To empower finance teams today, this means implementing a financial planning and analysis (FP&A) platform that delivers. But what exactly should you be looking for to keep your business on track?

As the heartbeat of financial planning and business analysis, FP&A processes are critical to organizations today—keeping your business running smoothly by enabling planning, forecasting and analysis. But to drive invaluable data-driven decision making and ensure your team has everything they need to thrive, those FP&A processes must rely on a financial platform that’s powerful, function rich and intuitive to use.

So how do the current FP&A solutions on the market measure up? How do you know which one is the best for your business needs? 

Keep reading for an overview of seven of the top FP&A and financial planning software tools on the market—and the pros and cons of each.

What Is Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A)?

Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) comprises the planning, budgeting, forecasting and analytical processes that together support your organization’s business and financial decision making. Through cross-functional analysis, it helps you build your future goals, measure ongoing financial performance and forecast upcoming results. 

To achieve all of that, modern FP&A teams rely on financial planning software. Gartner defines financial planning software as “a key tool that enables organizations to manage their enterprise-wide financial planning, forecasting and budgeting process.” It empowers businesses to “plan and analyze business financial strategy for the organization across all three financial statements (profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow).” Typically, financial planning software also supports scenario modeling, collaboration, analytics, budgeting and performance reporting. 

Let’s dig a little deeper into FP&A and how to choose a financial planning software that truly supports it.

How Do You Do FP&A?

As strategic partners to the entire business, FP&A teams are responsible for communicating and collaborating across departments. That means collecting company-wide data to fuel organization-wide planning,  look ahead and contribute to strategic decision making. It also means making informed financial decisions to ensure your business continues to thrive.

Several key duties are taken on by the FP&A team, including:

  • Analyzing assets, investments and your current return on investment (ROI)
  • Deciding how to use cash flow
  • Calculating key financial ratios to determine financial health
  • Analyzing your products and services to see where the most net profit is made and which products have the highest and lowest profit margins
  • Determining the cost efficiency of each department and whether resources are allocated in the best possible way—and working with those departments to build effective budgets
  • Reporting to leadership and building out the financial models and forecasts that support their ongoing decision making
  • Comparing budgets and forecasts against historical results, mapping out growth plans and looking for expansion opportunities

To build efficiencies into the key processes that support those duties, organizations need an FP&A platform that fits their needs.

How To Choose the Best FP&A Platform

To empower your FP&A processes, you require a technology platform that will drive confident and connected decision making and ensure business-wide accountability. One that offers data analytics, guides business intelligence, lets you share actionable and scalable insights across your organization and drives strategic business planning and up-to-the-minute analysis.

To achieve that, your financial planning platform should have: 

  • Powerful BI cloud and AI capabilities
  • Access to real-time analytics at scale 
  • Functionality that drives operational alignment and accountability 
  • Collaboration tools that let you share insights across cross-functional teams 
  • Multidimensional modeling and scenario analysis capabilities
  • Unified data control and security to ensure your data is protected
  • An intuitive, easy-to-use interface 

Ultimately, the tool you choose should connect your data, be intuitive for users and stay scalable to your business needs—letting you remain agile and proactive as you continue to grow.

The Best FP&A and Financial Planning Software

1. Vena

An out-of-the-box, no-code solution, Vena’s FP&A platform brings your financial and operational data to life with interactive visualizations that improve the way your teams communicate, collaborate and find creative solutions to complex business problems.  

Vena empowers confident and connected decision making and business-wide accountability. It makes it easy to share actionable, scalable, AI-driven business insights and empowers strategic planning and agility at every level with guided business intelligence. And with extensible APIs, native integrations and multidimensional modeling capabilities, Vena enables you to go from data readiness to deep insights to peak business performance in an instant—all within a secure, complete planning platform.

Key Functionality and What Makes Vena Easy To Use

Built around a familiar Microsoft Excel foundation, Vena is flexible and intuitive, empowering FP&A teams to:

  • Enhance strategic decision making, with self-serve access to data analytics and instant AI-powered insights using configurable dashboards that answer critical business questions, find creative solutions to complex problems and power proactive decision making
  • Drive operational alignment and accountability, to easily communicate the impact of investment decisions, enhance visibility into business performance and help teams determine what drivers they need to focus on to optimize operations with effective data management and easy-to-understand visualizations
  • Future-proof analytics and insights by leveraging out-of-the-box embedded and guided business intelligence, with instant access to Microsoft’s ongoing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) updates
  • Centralize data in a secure environment, with unified data control and security, including sensitivity labeling, end-to-end encryption and real-time access monitoring
  • Empower cross-departmental collaboration, enhancing the visibility of business performance and supporting communication to all stakeholders

Vena’s Complete Planning solution is self-service, secure and interactive—connecting teams, enabling collaboration and facilitating data-driven cultures. All with Excel at the core, meaning you don’t have to abandon the tools you’re comfortable with in order to scale. 

Want to see Vena in action? Sign up for a 7-day Vena Preview.

2. Planful

Used to streamline business-wide planning, consolidation, reporting and visual analytics, Planful lets you see performance data at scale, automate, improve reporting and align planning processes. Their financial performance management software is meant largely for bigger FP&A teams and CFOs looking to streamline their planning efforts. 

Key Functionality and What Planful Does Well:

  • Offers collaboration and sharing tools with a web-based user interface
  • Adheres to common security and compliance requirements
  • Provides consistent and customizable financial reporting 

Planful Weaknesses:

  • Does not easily export live reports into Excel

  • Poor integration capabilities take months to complete

  • Does not extend easily beyond the office of finance without additional support

  • Data modeling is complex and difficult to configure

How Does Vena Compare With Planful?

 

Vena

Planful

Native Microsoft Excel User Interface
Offers a native Excel experience, including all formatting and custom formulas

🆇

Collaboration and Sharing
Lets you collaborate, tag and comment directly in Excel

Central Database
Provides a unified solution that’s centrally architected and designed to support minimal system maintenance

🆇

Integrations
Offers native API integrations to industry standard systems (GL/ERP/CRM) as well as publicly available API integration to hundreds of additional source systems

⚠️

Process Management
Includes flexible and visual workflows for all input, business rules, review and reporting tasks across any process

🆇

Security and Compliance
Provides a single, integrated security model with auditability

Modeling
Offers integrated and common data models for financial and operational forecasting, budgeting and reporting 

⚠️

Microsoft Power BI Embedded
Has natively built reporting and insights with an industry-leading business intelligence tool

🆇

3. Anaplan

Anaplan is a web-based, enterprise-level business modeling and planning platform. It serves multiple areas across the business, including finance, marketing, sales, supply chain and workforce management. Anaplan offers forecasting and scenario modeling capabilities, with real-time access to data and collaboration capabilities. 

Key Functionality and What Anaplan Does Well:

  • Can be scaled across the organization
  • Supports complex calculations
  • Is highly customizable to accommodate multiple use cases

Anaplan Weaknesses:

  • Has a high learning curve with low adoption
  • Is IT intensive and difficult to maintain and implement
  • There are no pre-configured starter models
  • Modeling is complex and difficult to use and maintain

How Does Vena Compare With Anaplan?

 

Vena

Anaplan

Native Microsoft Excel User Interface
Offers a native Excel experience, including all formatting and custom formulas 

🆇

Collaboration and Sharing
Lets you collaborate, tag and comment directly in Excel 

⚠️

Central Database
Provides a unified solution that’s centrally architected and designed to support minimal system maintenance

🆇

Integrations
Offers native API integrations to industry standard systems (GL/ERP/CRM) as well as publicly available API integration to hundreds of additional source systems 

Process Management
Includes flexible and visual workflows for all input, business rules, review and reporting tasks across any process

🆇

Security and Compliance
Provides a single, integrated security model with auditability

Modeling
Offers integrated and common data models for financial and operational forecasting, budgeting and reporting 

⚠️

Microsoft Power BI Embedded
Has natively built reporting and insights with an industry-leading business intelligence tool

⚠️

4. Prophix

Prophix’s corporate performance management (CPM) software is designed mostly for finance teams at mid-market organizations. It improves profitability and minimizes risk by automating budgeting, forecasting, reporting and consolidation-to-close processes for better decision making. Prophix is available in the cloud or on premise.

Key Functionality and What Prophix Does Well:

  • Supports multiple use cases
  • Makes it easy to build custom reports
  • Has 20+ years of category and industry experience

Prophix Weaknesses:

  • Limited Microsoft Excel integration
  • Weak business intelligence and machine learning integrations or tools
  • Template creation is cumbersome and difficult to use
  • The combination of cloud and on-premise deployments are not at feature parity

How Does Vena Compare With Prophix? 

 

Vena

Prophix

Native Microsoft Excel User Interface
Offers a native Excel experience, including all formatting and custom formulas 

🆇

Collaboration and Sharing
Lets you collaborate, tag and comment directly in Excel 

⚠️

Central Database
Provides a unified solution that’s centrally architected and designed to support minimal system maintenance

Integrations
Offers native API integrations to industry standard systems (GL/ERP/CRM) as well as publicly available API integration to hundreds of additional source systems 

⚠️

Process Management
Includes flexible and visual workflows for all input, business rules, review and reporting tasks across any process

⚠️

Security and Compliance
Provides a single, integrated security model with auditability 

Modeling
Offers integrated and common data models for financial and operational forecasting, budgeting and reporting 

⚠️

Microsoft Power BI Embedded
Has natively built reporting and insights with an industry-leading business intelligence tool

🆇

5. Workday Adaptive Planning

Workday Adaptive Planning is an enterprise planning and analysis solution designed to empower collaboration, insights and agility. It offers modeling and analytics functionality for organizations of all sizes, with customizable offerings for different use cases. 

Key Functionality and What Workday Adaptive Planning Does Well:

  • Has brand recognition and a large customer base
  • Is customizable to certain use cases, including workforce planning, sales planning and financial planning
  • Offers flexibility to create sheets and views based on the needs of business users

Workday Adaptive Planning Weaknesses:

  • Not a native Microsoft Excel integration, but instead uses proprietary modeling and formula language
  • Has a steep learning curve, with weak support and implementation services
  • Doesn’t offer streamlined native integrations
  • Has performance issues and system limitations

How Does Vena Compare With Workday Adaptive Planning?

 

Vena

Adaptive

Native Microsoft Excel User Interface
Offers a native Excel experience, including all formatting and custom formulas 

🆇

Collaboration and Sharing
Lets you collaborate, tag and comment directly in Excel 

⚠️

Central Database
Provides a unified solution that’s centrally architected and designed to support minimal system maintenance

⚠️

Integrations
Offers native API integrations to industry standard systems (GL/ERP/CRM) as well as publicly available API integration to hundreds of additional source systems 

⚠️

Process Management
Includes flexible and visual workflows for all input, business rules, review and reporting tasks across any process

⚠️

Security and Compliance
Provides a single, integrated security model with auditability 

Modeling
Offers integrated and common data models for financial and operational forecasting, budgeting and reporting 

⚠️

Microsoft Power BI Embedded
Has natively built reporting and insights with an industry-leading business intelligence tool

🆇

6. Datarails

Datarails is a financial planning and analysis platform that offers automation, visualization and consolidation capabilities. Finance teams can benefit from the spreadsheets and financial models of Excel while automating their financial reporting and planning.

Key Functionality and What Datarails Does Well:

  • Offers a low-cost option that makes it a good starter solution
  • Offers a point solution for financial budgeting, planning and reporting
  • Connects to Microsoft Excel using legacy desktop ribbon technology

Datarails Weaknesses:

  • Does not support extended, scalable planning use cases beyond traditional financial budgeting, planning and reporting
  • Flexibility and modeling is difficult and requires Datarails support to aid in setup and maintenance
  • The product is in development and has performance issues, with key features and capabilities missing
  • The Excel add-in requires installation

How Does Vena Compare With Datarails?

 

Vena

Datarails

Native Microsoft Excel User Interface
Offers a native Excel experience, including all formatting and custom formulas 

Collaboration and Sharing
Lets you collaborate, tag and comment directly in Excel 

⚠️

Central Database
Provides a unified solution that’s centrally architected and designed to support minimal system maintenance

Integrations
Offers native API integrations to industry standard systems (GL/ERP/CRM) as well as publicly available API integration to hundreds of additional source systems 

🆇

Process Management
Includes flexible and visual workflows for all input, business rules, review and reporting tasks across any process

🆇

Security and Compliance
Provides a single, integrated security model with auditability 

⚠️

Modeling
Offers integrated and common data models for financial and operational forecasting, budgeting and reporting 

⚠️

Microsoft Power BI Embedded
Has natively built reporting and insights with an industry-leading business intelligence tool

🆇

7. Cube

Cube is an FP&A platform that provides real-time financial and operational data access. It enables strategic planning, reporting and analysis within a spreadsheet environment, with flexible use cases across functions.

Key Functionality and What Cube Does Well:

  • A niche FP&A solution, it lets you get started fairly quickly
  • Provides customizability and flexibility
  • Offers top-rated customer service and support

Cube Weaknesses:

  • Has limited security with no way to restrict what users can access
  • The product is still in development, with a limited feature set and functionality that’s still lacking
  • There are modeling limitations, with a limited number of dimensions your organization can have

How Does Vena Compare to Cube?

 

Vena

Cube

Native Microsoft Excel User Interface
Offers a native Excel experience, including all formatting and custom formulas 

Collaboration and Sharing
Lets you collaborate, tag and comment directly in Excel 

Central Database
Provides a unified solution that’s centrally architected and designed to support minimal system maintenance

⚠️

Integrations
Offers native API integrations to industry standard systems (GL/ERP/CRM) as well as publicly available API integration to hundreds of additional source systems 

⚠️

Process Management
Includes flexible and visual workflows for all input, business rules, review and reporting tasks across any process

🆇

Security and Compliance
Provides a single, integrated security model with auditability 

⚠️

Modeling
Offers integrated and common data models for financial and operational forecasting, budgeting and reporting 

🆇

Microsoft Power BI Embedded
Has natively built reporting and insights with an industry-leading business intelligence tool

🆇

Conclusion

To get the most out of your FP&A team and processes, you need a financial planning platform that will enable those processes, empower your team and help you exceed your business goals. 

That makes choosing the right solution crucial. Understanding what you hope to achieve, the functionality you need to accomplish those goals and the learning curve to expect for your team should all play a part in making that decision. From there, it’s all about carefully comparing the pros and cons to make sure you get the solution that best meets all your needs—then putting your new platform to use to make your organization’s objectives a reality.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I look for in FP&A tools?

What you should look for in your FP&A tools depends on your most pressing needs and the planning processes you have in place. You should also consider your people and the change involved in bringing in any new technology investment. Look for a familiar, flexible interface that lets your team stay agile and proactive, is scalable as your business grows and connects your data for more informed analysis and decision making. Automation, collaboration and visualization functionality are also key if you hope to fully empower your FP&A team.

What does FP&A software do?

Gartner says financial planning and analysis (FP&A) software supports “the office of finance’s budgeting, planning and forecasting efforts. Many also supplement the office’s budgeting and planning process support with modeling, collaboration analytics and performance-reporting capabilities, to increase its ability to manage performance by linking corporate strategy and execution.” It empowers you to better understand your business’s overall financial health, look ahead to make better decisions for the future and collaborate on budgeting and planning.

What is xP&A and how is extended planning different from FP&A?

According to Gartner, extended planning and analysis (xP&A) “extends” traditional FP&A solutions focused solely on finance into other planning domains—such as workforce planning, sales, operations and marketing. Solutions that enable xP&A help organizations exploit the challenges faced when introducing new cloud-based business processes and navigating economic uncertainties. In other words, this tech-powered planning approach enables finance teams to build agility, resilience and alignment into financial, strategic and operational planning.

What other solutions does Vena provide?

Vena offers solutions across FP&A, sales performance management and financial close management. We also have pre-configured industry solutions designed specifically for banking and credit unions, SaaS, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, hotel and lodging, higher education, healthcare, professional sports, not for profit and professional services.

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