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Financial planning with Spreadsheets

The current headaches

Many of the organisations who have come to us did so because they were suffering from the issues set out below.

The FP&A process had become merely an administrative headache, with no greater ambition than producing an annual budget and a set of standard monthly management reports. Time simply would not permit them to develop a rolling forecast or ad-hoc ‘What-if?’ analysis and more valuable analytical reporting.

So for the beleaguered Finance professional charged with delivering FP&A to the organisation, the shortcomings of the *typical Microsoft Excel/general ledger solution usually mean that one or more of the following are true:

Excel. The ‘one-stop-shop’ for all things finance. We’ve seen great uses for Excel and we are big fans. Can you imagine a Finance world without spreadsheets? No.. nor can we.

But our experience shows us that FP&A systems built on Excel just grow and grow and before you know it you have a process that so difficult to maintain and manage that you daren’t continue to change or evolve it for fear of breaking what’s already working.

Sound familiar?

But change is inevitable – your business is probably in constant change. So the model must change to keep up. Except you daren’t change it…

You know that with multiple budgets and forecast templates in circulation, the problems with version management, broken links, maintaining and understanding formulae can be extremely time consuming for you. And a potentially massive risk for the organisation.

You email all your budget holders with the budget template and request that they re-submit them in a timely fashion.

You end up copying and pasting spreadsheets dropping into your email, in the hope that you haven’t missed any – there is no easy way to track submissions.

Worse still – the thought of sending templates out to budget holder fills you with dread – you know that some users will overwrite formulae with their own data, and others won’t return the sheets on time. So you arrange one-on-one meetings with budget holders and key in their numbers for them.

Yes – it is a big drain on your time but at least you know that the job’s done. But it takes so long that re-forecasting more frequently or running a rolling forecast is just out of the question.

You’ve finally just collected the budget numbers and after ‘n’ number of iterations the Board has finally agreed the figures for next year.

But the process took so long that those figures are already out of date. The market conditions have changed and there are new opportunities on the horizon that the board are exploring.

They’ll want you to ‘quickly’ run some numbers to assess the impact of the changing conditions on the financial health of the organisation – what’s the effect on the bottom line earnings? How will cash flow be affected? It looks like the cost of raw materials will rise – how much effect will that have? Will we still have cover for bank covenants? And, of course, all of that needs to be seen in the context of ForEx changes .

Except it isn’t something that you can produce ‘quickly’, unless you take a very high level view. What you’d really like to do is take a copy of the latest budget/forecast, change some of the key assumptions and drivers that you worked hard at establishing in the first place, which will accurately drive the resulting ‘what-if’ model.

So because it’s almost month-end and the day job is demanding your time, you pull another couple of late nights and get the revised figures to them in time for the next meeting. Just.

Every month-end Finance professionals everywhere hastily open up their Board-pack templates and begin copying and pasting to get the latest management information ready for the Board meeting .
Every month you produce the same reports – and hope that your users and information consumers don’t come back to ask you for further information, to ‘drill down’ on the numbers or cut the reports in a different way.

Because when they do, you know that you’ll spend countless hours sourcing the data from multiple systems, and copy and paste into yet another report. A report that may be used once and then discarded or raise more questions which will result in yet more ad-hoc report requests.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could create all theses reports quickly and efficiently – using an intuitive drag and drop interface to lay out the rows and columns? Or, even better, what if the users could themselves create their own reports…?

THERE IS ANOTHER WAY

Accelerate budgeting processes

From weeks to days

Manual data compilation across different systems, countless budget iterations and data validation discrepancies are just a few of the challenges that make budgeting and planning in spreadsheets cumbersome. Move beyond spreadsheets and reduce the time needed to complete financial planning by 70% or more.

Adaptive Insights’ Cloud platform enables rapid deployment at an affordable cost. Access from anywhere without the hassles of IT. Make all the latest financial data your team needs available in the cloud, not buried
in separate reports and spreadsheets. That way, Excel reports and web reports are always up to date with the latest information, and your team can focus on the decisions, not spinning cycles hunting for the data to make them.

Fix reporting inaccuracies

single source of the truth

Having a single, reliable and trusted source of financial data makes a significant strategic impact on a company and provides the insight and information you need to base business direction decisions. Adaptive Insights enables businesses to embrace dashboards and self-service reporting so that individual departments can see their leading and lagging business performance; delivering visibility into the data that business leaders want and need.

Excel is a great productivity tool, but it inhibits collaboration. The cloud removes duplication, minimizes reporting errors by improving control and audit tracking, provides one system to update, saves time on design and maintenance, and gets everyone (literally) on the same page.

With the audit trail you can see who changed what and when, which gives you a greater level of trust in each other and in the end product or forecast.

Improve forecasting certainty

and Automate rolling forecasts

That’s because multiple versions— which good rolling forecasts need to create different scenarios—are extremely difficult to update and manage with spreadsheets. They’re prone to errors, with broken links and formulas, so finance spends more time stemming tiny leaks than stemming the tide.

Another problem is that spreadsheets are scattered like islands across marketing, sales, finance and other departments. They may all use different assumptions, standards, and even software, making it difficult to aggregate, combine and consolidate forecasts.

By automating rolling forecasts with Adaptive Insights you can easily and frequently roll up and integrate actuals from any system. You will be able to quickly create multiple versions that allow you to analyze performance and different what-if scenarios. Because Adaptive Insights is a cloud-based system you can take action quickly, from anywhere. Forecast accuracy will improve, and you’ll be able to batten the hatches faster in the face of performance storm warnings. You are able to model “what-if” scenarios in a way that disparate spreadsheets, linked together with formulas, just can’t. You can change a few key assumptions and drivers and instantly see their effect on the overall plan, such as the impact a price change has on headcounts and cash.

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Take a demo

The best way to truly experience the power of Adaptive Insights technology is through a personalised demonstration. When you submit your details, we’ll contact you for a suitable time to organise either a web-conference meeting or an in-person meeting. We’ll qualify your objectives before-hand so we can demonstrate how the solution can address your specific challenges around budgeting, forecasting and planning.