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FP&A Buyers Guide to Planning and Reporting Systems

planning illustration

Less painful budgeting and reporting; Rolling forecasts; Driver-based planning with scenario analysis: These are the types of benefits planning and reporting software vendors have been claiming for years. But if you’re considering replacing spreadsheets with a dedicated planning and reporting package, where do you begin?

Most anyone who builds planning models these days is aware of the challenges inherent in spreadsheets. Dozens of software solutions are now available ranging from starter packages (e.g. Budget Maestro) to mid-market players (e.g. Alight Planning) on up to SAP/IBM/Oracle for larger organizations. The questions we need to ask ourselves include

  • “Should I make the move out of spreadsheets?”
  • "How do I quickly select and implement the right software solution?"
  • “What are the functions that are most important for my business?”

planning chart

Rand Heer, Alight Planning CEO and founder of Pillar, the first Enterprise Planning application, probably has more experience working with consumers of budgeting and planning software than anyone on the globe. Rand reflected on his 30+ years experience as a leader in the planning software space to compile The FP&A Buyer’s Guide for Planning & Reporting Systems. The guide is designed to save you time by identifying the critical questions you should be asking and stacking the deck in your favor should you decide to move beyond spreadsheets for any planning activities.

Whether you are just starting out on your mission to transform planning and reporting and move beyond spreadsheets, or you currently have a more advanced system, but are not sure it is meeting your business needs, you probably want to begin by addressing a pressing issue; is your goal to simply make budgeting and reporting simplier, or do you want to add greater value to your business by moving towards rolling forecasting and scenario analysis? The progression of planning  is simple; Companies start by installing straight forward budgeting and reporting tools which add value to the business in the form of saving time. The value is accelerated by advanced decision making as the organization matures and moves to a monthly or quarterly rolling forecast regime that supplements static budgets with flexible forecasts that recognize changing conditions. This may be followed by what we describe as Agile PlanningTM—event driven planning characterized by scenario analysis with real time feedback as key assumptions are tested in a driver-based planning model.

The guide includes sections on ROI analysis, understanding your pain points, and questions to ask vendors. Anyone requesting the complete Buyer’s Guide will be offered a free FP&A Software Market Overview showing how various software vendors stack up!

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