Common Problems of Inadequate Financial Budgeting & Planning

Mar 17, 2020

Any business focused on growth knows that their business planning, budgeting and forecasting process needs to be agile, aligned, trustworthy, reliable and accessible. To help the organisation take advantage of the market, plan effectively for growth and stay competitive, a CFO needs to have their finger on the pulse and they need to have full trust in the accuracy of their data. Bringing together plans and budgets from across the organisation can be a cumbersome, slow and inherently manual task-heavy process, and this needs to change. To meet the needs of the business, to stay agile, to do all the things growth organisations are supposed to do, it needs to be better.

So, what is stopping you from being ‘better’?

At HAYNE we work with CFOs, CEOs, CIOs and Business Intelligence professionals who have all struggled with one or more of the following challenges. Challenges that you may also be facing. Taken from a recent CCH Tagetik report, here are nine common problems of inadequate budgeting and planning systems…

Problem 1 – No way to transform granular data or detail-level data

Finance is at the helm of corporate performance data. When harnessed, that data has the power to produce insights profound enough to force organisations to change course quickly but if misused or ignored, that data can also be an organisation’s downfall.

Unfortunately, legacy systems and spreadsheets do not enable finance teams to make sense of granular data. It’s this low-level data that has the power to foreshadow a plot twist that should be a catalyst for executives to change the course of their strategy. Without the right tools, the power of granular data is lost.

Problem 2 – Planning and budgeting processes are disconnected from other planning

Budgeting and planning processes are not islands. They encompass every pound spent, every project idea, every new hire, from every department.

When you use a legacy system to complete your planning and budgeting processes, budgets and plans are disconnected from consolidated figures and reports. Even more problematic, they’re disconnected from operations. With spreadsheets, the scenario is even direr. Financial executives are left scrambling to track down figures and interpret vast volumes of data manually.

Problem 3 – Finance must manually complete budgets, plans, and analysis

Without a degree of automation, finance teams must craft plans and budgets one line item at a time. How tedious. Imagine having to hunt down every figure, across various lines of business, departments and even child companies. Then validate those figures. Then determine how they interact. The room for error is large. More troubling, time and resources limit the degree that finance teams can analyse the data they have on hand.

Problem 4 – Legacy budgeting and planning systems weren’t built to govern large volumes of data

Legacy budgeting and planning systems weren’t built to govern large volumes of data. Legacy systems can handle summary level data that is structured in set dimensions but today we’re working in a culture of big data that runs across multiple dimensions. Any attempt to distil insights from large volumes of data in a legacy system would be like trying to surf on a skateboard. The ocean of data we’re dealing with is far too overwhelming for legacy solutions to manage.

Problem 5 – No way for global planners or departments to collaborate

Companies are growing faster than ever before, which means there’s more than a few cooks in the kitchen. How easy it is to cross wires, miss out pertinent information, or plan incorrectly when the left-hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing… nor the right foot. When executives, line of business (“lobs”) and production are misaligned, the financial truth of operations is lost. That’s when you’re at the greatest risk of an uninformed strategy moving the business forward blindly.

Problem 6 – No means to track performance KPIs in real-time

To stay afloat in today’s tumultuous business climate, real-time KPI monitoring is a must-have. With legacy systems and spreadsheets, your ability to track KPIs, check profitability, identify risks is delayed at best. When a change occurs that should result in real-time action, you won’t be able to see it until you’ve manually updated the performance metrics, days, weeks, or even months later.

What’s more, is that legacy systems and spreadsheet processes do not have the functionality to tell the full data story. You can’t perform variance analysis or adjust scenarios in real-time. Underlying data that could contain red light, strategy changing information is lost simply because you can’t adequately track it. Finance needs real-time performance KPI tracking to keep a finger to the pulse of the business.

Problem 7 – Cannot react swiftly to market or performance changes

Your ability to react, to anticipate and to make the right business decision is directly linked to your ability to understand the intricacies of real-time financial and operational performance.

When you understand the details of your performance, you can respond by adjusting plans, budgets and strategy. Without the ability to see performance in real-time and dive into the “why” behind each result, you’re powerless to get to the source of performance decline. Thus, your reaction will be too late.

Problem 8 – Cannot meet the CFO’s expectations

Organisations now recognise Finance’s power as an epi-centre for strategic planning guidance, partnering with the business operations and aligning strategy across the organisation. They have the skill to analyse performance, but honing that power depends on the ability to organise and interpret financial and operational data. That means having the tools to produce meaningful analytics from large volumes of granular and high-level data. This is something that cannot be done in legacy solutions or spreadsheets that have data silos or functionality deficits.

Problem 9 – Lack imperative functionality

Legacy systems and spreadsheets cannot meet new CFO needs or expectations because they lack the following functionality:

  • Real-time data that automatically updates in documents
  • A single hub of data for all financial processes
  • Collect all financial and operational data
  • Serve a single version of the truth into reports, analytics, budgets and plans
  • Transform granular data (e.g. SKU, transactional level data and operational data) into insights
  • See how financial and operational results impact one another
  • Project data into the future on the daily, monthly or yearly

Read the full survey and report

How do you tackle these planning challenges and common issues?

One way is to move towards an ‘integrated business planning process’ which aligns the financial and operational and even HR planning process. When you connect your Financial & Operational planning you are removing many things which can slow you down and in essence, you can plan smarter, manage better and act faster. You also need the right Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting software, not every solution works the same and you need to pick wisely.

HAYNE, we are qualified Accountants and systems experts, and we deliver ‘integrated business planning’ solutions from leading software vendors such as CCH Tagetik, IBM and LucaNet. Using our vast experience, we can help you understand your challenges and navigate towards the right solution for you, your team and your business. We don’t just sell the software, we become your partner and provide all the resources required for implementation; project management, consultancy and training.

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