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Tech Trends: Want to Improve Your Budgeting Process But Feel Stuck?

CFOs don't have the time to wait around each month for the company's financial reports to be completed. They need real-time insights to ensure revenue streams continue to grow, while the business gets smarter about how it spends its funds. 

Taking Advantage of Technology
Many believe on-premise budgeting software is becoming outdated, which is why more CFOs are turning to cloud-based business analytics solutions to improve real-time decision-making. During the recent "Tomorrow is Today: Transforming the Business from Static Budgets to Real-Time Forecasts" webinar put on by Proformative, Shyam Desigan, CFO and senior vice president of IT at the American Academy of Physician Assistants, talked about how his organization struggled with its forecasting and needed a more powerful system.

"Our forecasting challenge was built around dealing with multiple data sets, multiple systems that held the data," said Desigan. "Not just financial data, but also operational data and trying to group all of them into a single dashboard."

That's when the AAPA turned to a Software as a Service model that was able to harness information collected by business intelligence tools, didn't require maintenance from the IT department, and was easily integrated with other applications. The benefits of having data in the cloud was a no-brainer for Desigan.

Budgets Are Smarter With BI
CFOs already have a lot on their plates, and they need help during the budgeting process. When using business intelligence tools, CFOs can create a workflow visible in the cloud that all top decision-makers can access and that let them carry out planning tasks to make better changes throughout the year, according to Business Intelligence Blog, which is run by Arcplan, a business analytics solutions provider.

Technology makes it easier to put the right people in charge of certain steps in the budgeting process, and sharing the responsibility engages employees in their roles. Many executives will monitor BI tools, which will help in making changes along the way, said the blog. BI tools can also be integrated with smartphone and tablet apps that can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Cloud-Based Planning Software Will Improve Forecasts
While BI tools can provide real-time insights from budgeting, as well as data to impact decision-making down the road, planning software can make CFOs' lives so much easier. According to an infographic by Adaptive Planning, cloud-based planning integrated with BI tools will enable CFOs to reach their main goal: become more strategic. Using these solutions will allow CFOs to double their time as business leaders, while greatly decreasing their responsibilities of managing the company's finances.

Service providers will have us believe that the days of planning with spreadsheets and Excel are coming to an end, and CFOs are focusing more on business analytics. That may not be the case at every company anytime soon, but finance departments do want to move beyond the limitations of their tried-and-true spreadsheets. The infographic showed just less than three-quarters of CFOs said they want real-time analysis to improve financial reporting, budgeting and planning, as well as gain access to dashboards and scorecards that enable them to see how money is being spent in all corners of the organization.

Another trend that is expected to pick up among CFOs is the adoption of corporate performance management systems. Forty-seven percent of CFOs who are planning to use a CPM app in the next two years expect greater flexibility and 36 percent anticipate greater cost savings throughout the budgeting and forecasting process. CFOs who are open to these new technologies are putting themselves in positions to make better financial decisions for their businesses, according to the infographic.

To learn more on this subject,attend CFO Dimensions 2013 in New York City, August 21-22. Register with code CFODKAR for a special $649 discount here.