A 2019 CFO research revealed that more than half of finance executives still utilise spreadsheets shared through email for budgeting, forecasting, and planning. So, which part of the study do you find shocking? Is it the fact that senior finance executives are relying on endless email chains to collaborate? Or that they are using flawed spreadsheets to perform crucial roles like budgeting and planning?
Regardless, a substantial number of companies continue to use spreadsheets and manual processes for these crucial finance functions—with the main reasons for using spreadsheets for budgeting and planning including, familiarity, ease of use, and usefulness in essential measurement and analysis.
Reasons to Ditch Spreadsheets and Manual Processes
Although the use of spreadsheets has been a standard feature for decades, especially for budgeting, planning, and forecasting, these tools have become outdated. For that reason, they can’t meet the financial needs of businesses in the 21st century.
Spreadsheets are error-prone, time-consuming, labour-intensive, and lack audit trails and security. Also, as the need for near-real-time data for decision-making intensifies, spreadsheets cannot offer CFO’s this data.
Spreadsheets are ill-equipped to handle the sophisticated budgeting and planning needs of contemporary businesses. Subsequently, using spreadsheets for financial reporting and planning fails to offer enterprises the visibility and agility they require to retain a competitive edge.
What’s more, the need for faster and more accurate budgeting, planning, and forecasting is driving enterprises to search for better alternatives.
The Better Option – Continuous Planning Platforms
Forward-looking organisations are ditching spreadsheets and other manual systems for advanced financial reporting and planning systems like cloud-based FP&A solutions. This approach perceives cloud-based platforms as an opportunity to garner benefits like;
1. Cost savings
Many CFO’s migrate from spreadsheets to Continuous Planning Platforms to reduce costs. Research shows that a substantial number of senior finance chiefs use cloud-based systems to cut IT costs.
2. Improve data integrity
Spreadsheets rely on manually collected and consolidated data from siloed systems. And this analogy raises the issue of data accuracy. Conversely, Continuous Planning Platforms improve data accuracy by reducing manual processes and human interaction with data.
3. Reduce errors
Spreadsheets and other legacy systems are error-prone. Continuous Planning Platforms on the other hand, is accurate and less error-prone.
4. Improve collaboration
With Continuous Planning Platforms, finance professionals can collaborate effortlessly without using unlimited chains of emails. They can work in tandem with other business units such as sales, marketing, and service and line of business (LBO) leaders to optimise performance. Also, CFO’s become better partners and support C-suite leaders in planning, budgeting, and forecasting.
5. Offer greater visibility
Continuous Planning Software allows for greater visibility into the finance function and business performance metrics. Also, it gives visibility into data to inform other functions like marketing, sales, and service.
6. Increase productivity
Continuous Planning, CFO’s spend less time on data collection and analysis. They devote their time to value-added activities like tracking KPI’s, identifying business challenges, and leveraging opportunities.
7. Autonomy from IT
Continuous Planning Platforms give CFO’s independence from IT, and they can run their processes and systems independently. CFO’s can capitalise on rapid innovations as well as become more agile and responsive to changes in the market and industry.
8. Inform decision-making
Continuous Planning Platforms help CFO’s to make better decisions by providing real-time information on corporate performance. Senior finance leaders can amend their plans and forecasts to accommodate changing market conditions.
For many years, Excel has been a useful tool for CFO’s to perform financial planning and reporting. Regrettably, it has numerous limitations making it a handicap for financial reporting, planning, and forecasting. As the role of CFO’s broadens and they increasingly become one of the business performance leaders, they need more clarity of the overall health of a business. And this is data that spreadsheets can’t avail from all business units.
Ultimately, a Continuous Planning Platform can afford CFO’s and enterprises an opportunity to cut costs, improve data integrity, increase productivity, and offer accurate and timely data to evaluate performance and identify opportunities for growth.
Learn more about Satori’s Cloud Based FP&A Software Planful