Has your FP&A team outgrown spreadsheets?

Spreadsheets have always been a ‘go-to’ tool for finance teams, in both large and small organisations. However, if you want to keep up with modern businesses in today’s fast-paced environment, manual spreadsheets are no longer robust or powerful enough for comprehensive, continuous planning.

Spreadsheets are great for certain tasks, but untimely reporting and the inability to offer a unified view where managers and employees have a single version of truth, make spreadsheets ineffective and full of errors.

In this blog we discuss 5 tell-tale signs that you have outgrown spreadsheets – and how a cloud-based solution can help your team operate better, faster, and at a lower cost than you might have imagined.

1. Your Manual Processes are Restricting Company-Wide Planning

If your finance teams solely depend on spreadsheets, they get stuck in those manual processes which are time-consuming and overburdening. It results in your finance team getting stuck spending their time investigating broken links and errors rather than putting their focus on reaching upcoming deadlines.

While we are not saying there are no good spreadsheets, the issue is how these manual processes restrict company-wide planning and collaboration. There may be good spreadsheet reports within a particular department, but it is often the case that the rest of the organisation is not aware of them. Then what happens? Other departments re-create their own version of this already created report, wasting time, effort and creating complications across the business leaving people wondering “what is the right data?”.

Working with our Adaptive Insights Software allows everyone to be involved in a comprehensive, continuous planning process where users can quickly report on actuals and help drive strategy.

2. Your Budget Cycles are Long and Numbers Are Out-Of-Date

If generating, sharing, and maintaining reports every month is a massively time-consuming burden, chances are that you have outgrown spreadsheets. If this process takes too long, by the time you have gathered your data, fixed the numbers and created a comprehensive plan, your numbers will likely be out-of-date.

Using cloud-based planning software can cut your budgeting time in half, make your forecasting more accurate, increase profitability and manage expenses. Reducing these manual efforts will streamline your consolidation process and avoid a misalignment between your departments, by using the same source of data.

3. Your Forecasts and Budgets Are Not Frequent

In today’s fast-paced business environment, annual budgets and forecasts alone do not suffice. More often that not, budgets are out-of-date soon after they are published, and quarterly forecasts are routinely obsolete by the time they are finalised.

You can get all you need in one agile solution – turning to a cloud-based planning solution frees your finance team from the limitations of a spreadsheet-only approach, meaning they can create frequent forecasts to keep your budgets on track.

4. You Have Too Many Systems and Not Enough Integration

Budgeting is hard enough trying to keep the numbers up-to-date, but finance teams often find themselves collecting data from multiple different systems (e.g. HR, CRM, ERP, etc.). Using a spreadsheet to report on various different systems becomes far too complicated.

There is a widely held belief that spreadsheets can be some sort of database, but this is not the case. It is a calculator which is effective at manipulating and viewing data in various formats, it is not, however, effective at storing and managing your data in a reliable, secure, scalable way.

If you are tracking data in one spreadsheet, but referencing another for your marketing campaign, then you have a third spreadsheet to reference sales, everything gets complicated. Managing your business on disparate systems means your teams waste valuable time on monotonous tasks which could be better spent on other things.

5. Only Your Finance and IT Teams Can Run Reports

While having a team who have more of a focus on reporting, creating timely ad-hoc reports should be a collaborative effort. When you leave it up to your Finance and IT teams, they become swamped with work to do when additional input could be useful.

It takes various people to create a report, but Excel wasn’t designed for real-time collaboration. If your teams work together on a spreadsheet, there is a high chance for things to go wrong. This is why when using a cloud-based planning solution, your decision-makers have direct access to self-service reporting, providing them with greater insight into company performance and more confidence in the numbers.

Get Business Agility to Move in Fast-Moving World

Spreadsheets and manual processes slow down your business growth – it’s time to move on to better solutions.

In today’s world, managing business performance effectively requires everyone onboard – your executives, managers, and employees all need to have access to accurate, reliable and opportune information to ensure they see the right data. This way, everyone is aware and onboard with company-wide plans.

Companies can no longer rely on disparate, undocumented data, reporting and planning. The more that spreadsheets clog the front end, the more that the back end becomes obstructed. Dont abolish spreadsheets altogether, keep using them to manage your business, just use them in conjunction with cloud-based planning tools to ensure you continue to plan for the future and grow as a business.

To learn more about planning and reporting, schedule a personalised demo to see how Clear Plan can help your business.