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Automated Financial Consolidation, Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting - Business Objectives and Requirements

Kelly Dowe's Profile

Automated Financial Consolidation, Planning, Budgeting & ForecastingHello. We are planning to start tool evaluations for automated financial consolidation, planning, budgeting, and forecasting tools soon. I have built a wish list for these tools that I plan on translating into requirements and an evaluation matrix. Does anyone have suggestions for me to add for the business objectives for these processes / requirements of the tools? You'll see I did get technical in some places, as I know some of these items help to really differentiate between tools. We are an SAP shop, so that's a constraint. Thanks in advance.

OVERALL OBJECTIVES

  1. Increase accuracy of reporting, plans, budgets, and forecasts o Improve process cycle time by:
    • Creating custom workflows for financial processes
    • Providing graphical tracking of progress
    • Issue e-mail alerts to stakeholders throughout the process, reducing the overall consolidation cycle time and providing more accountability, ownership and control.
  2. Provide low total cost of ownership through:
    • Maintenance of a single set of hierarchies and business rules
    • Single point of maintenance and elimination of multiple redundant systems and data
    • Usage of a single version/source of actual, budget and forecast data; eliminate or reduce data reconciliation efforts
    • Drag and drop simplicity when handling reorganizations, acquisitions, spin-offs, and other structure changes
    • Out of the box budgeting and reporting templates
    • Robust integration with SAP source data
  3. Perform work through intuitive user interfaces that increase productivity by:
    • Maximize work that can be done by non IT personnel to improve data accuracy, eliminate unnecessary handoffs, and maximize the turnaround time of business rule changes
    • Improve data integrity and security
    • Link to SAP and non-SAP systems for source data
    • Model complex transformation rules for source data loads; use validation rules to provide exception reporting on source data

FINANCIAL CONSOLIDATION AND REPORTING OBJECTIVES

  • Increase compliance with accounting and regulatory standards
  • Close the books faster through automated loading, consolidation, and validation of data from multiple organizational units
  • Provide multiple consolidation hierarchies for management and statutory reporting requirements
  • Provide journal entry capabilities, to adjust data for consolidation issues, regulatory reporting, and management requirements
  • Perform foreign currency and exchange rate variance analysis for global organizations; compare foreign currencies, while isolating the impact of rate variances.
  • Maintain a detailed audit trail of all transactions, including adjustments offering auditable proof of data accuracy
  • Generate reports on validations, inter-company eliminations and foreign currency translation
  • Automate intra-fund and inter-fund allocations and eliminations
  • Enable finance staff to focus on analysis and managing exceptions, rather than on reconciliations o Facilitate issue resolution in the Interfund allocation process
  • Automate budget or forecast to actuals reporting
  • Facilitate in-depth variance analysis and reporting
  • Store text annotation of variances within the system
  • Create financial and management reports, including exception reports through an easy-to-use interface, create income statements, balance sheets, shareholder equity statements, cash flow statements, and dashboards of key performance metrics

PLANNING, BUDGETING, AND FORECASTING OBJECTIVES

  • Align spending with strategic goals o Make better decisions based on real time, on demand what-if analysis
  • Perform complex what-if analysis using robust business rules that fully reflect business opportunities; tool does not dictate what can be modeled (e.g., no unnecessary limits on dimensionality, hierarchies, etc.)
  • Enable multi-year scenario planning with what-if analysis
  • Model from top down or bottom up on the same hierarchy; enable top down allocation of high level modeling data into lower levels of the hierarchy using business rules
  • Enable custom, complex data entry and reporting forms that execute any business rule
  •  Provide rapid recalculation times for business rules; work while recalculations are taking place
  • Link scenario planning to budget/financial targets
  • Track versions and changes to plans, budgets, and forecasts
  • Increase collaboration for improved accountability and planning accuracy
  •  Allow for on the fly calculations outside of the system when the system is offline that can be uploaded back into the system once it is offline again

 

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Answers

tim simkiss
Title: Hyperion Practice Lead
Company: BizTech
LinkedIn Profile
(Hyperion Practice Lead, BizTech) |

Hi Kelly,
the best solution for your budgeting needs in my opinion is Hyperion Planning. Automated and on line, Planning sits on top of of Hyperion Essbase, which allows for tremendous amount of data storage and quick calculations. It also has a unique Excel add-in which is what most users are extremely comfortable with, decreasing the product education phase and lowering your ROI. Planning is the number one budgeting softwware in the world.

For the Consolidation piece you mention, I would suggest Hyperion Financial Management, which can automate intercompany accounting and consolidation, is extremley user friendly and intuitive and also has an Excel add in for ease of use.

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