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Planning and Forecasting Software

Would love to hear any thoughts on potential solutions for the following situation: Currently do annual planning entirely through excel - ultimately loading final plan to JDE and reporting during the year is done via exporting actuals from JDE and manipulating in excel. 2 key outcomes will include: a) allowing budget owners (35+) to continue to plan in the same (massive) excel template, and b) fairly extensive reporting functionality (I am familiar with Cognos reporting so that might be a good baseline). Compatibility in/out with JDE and excel would be required. Current solutions under consideration are Adaptive, Host, and Vena. Any comments on the folks to consider or anything else are appreciated, thank you!

Answers

Topic Expert
Alan Hart
Title: Consultant
Company: Pacific Shine Group
(Consultant, Pacific Shine Group) |

Getting away from spreadsheets is always a good idea and for many obvious reasons. As far as choosing the right planning, budgeting and analysis software application, I would recommend looking at a solution that not only allows you to put together a corporate budget using many inputs and budget participants but also to have outputs similar to your actual accounting system. By that I mean, ability to obtain future (budget) period financial statements, including a forecasted balance sheet and a statement of cash flows. This concept is critical since it will give you a complete and accurate forecast of the financial health of your organization (as accurate as the assumptions and data used to build the budget). These forecasted financial statements and other reports should track your budget preparation process in real time, so when changes are made to the budget, these financial statements and all reports will automatically track these changes.

I have worked and seen some of the applications you mentioned and they are all capable of performing what you are looking for in terms of planning, budgeting and reporting functions, however, In my practice I have been very successful with Budget Maestro, published by Centage Corporation (www.centage.com) where the approach used is different than the traditional. This is a true GL based system, where all budget activity items automatically cause journal entry postings in the internal GL so you are able to obtain complete and accurate financial statement, always synchronized with one another which always reflect the “up to the minute” budget state. I regularly forecast the balance sheet and statement of cash flows for each budget period and am able to mimic the look and content of the actual accounting financial statements while also linking the budgeting GL to the accounting GL, so as soon as an accounting period is closed, that data is automatically available to the analytics module.

Of course, there is a lot more to describe that can be placed in this forum so I recommend that you further research this product. The other products you mentioned will do the job as long as you don’t expect a complete and accurate balance sheet and a statement of cash flows and don’t mind programming many formulas and links in order to build a meaningful model.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Mitchell
This type of question has come up a few times, so here are some threads that may help you.
https://www.proformative.com/questions/which-budgeting-software-best AND
https://www.proformative.com/questions/financial-reporting-planning-software#comment-15095

My key suggestion for you is to start from functional needs rather than what a product does.
Regards
Len

Mike Haile
Title: Founder
Company: Haile Consulting Solutions
(Founder, Haile Consulting Solutions) |

Mitchell

As Len says this comes up again and again because, while most finance professionals hate using excel for planning and forecasting, its ease of use and flexibility make it very difficult to ditch. This is particularly the case when you have to plan staff costs (ie salary raises, joiners, leavers etc.)

Ultimately, you do need to treat this as any ERP type software purchase and spend time with the team to get a good understanding of your requirements before you start to look a system. Its also more important than ever to involve the key users and manage the change effectively because its very difficult to get accountants to ditch excel so you run the risk of investing a lot of money on a new tool only to find that its not being used.

I hope this helps
Mike

Pamela Wise
Title: Director/General Accounting
Company: The E.W. Scripps Company
(Director/General Accounting, The E.W. Scripps Company) |

We are currently implementing Adaptive's solution after decades of using Excel spreadsheets with macros. It has a sandbox and allows different versions if multiple people need to calculate "what-if" scenarios. It also has workflow ability to approve the budget/forecast and other items.
Before you look at any solution you need to document your process (or what you want the process to be) and demo various solutions. The cost/benefit is usually the issue when choosing or not choosing to buy a budgeting tool.

Jeffery Steelman
Title: Engagement Director
Company: CLA CAST (formerly Monaghan Group)
(Engagement Director, CLA CAST (formerly Monaghan Group)) |

I concur with the Budget Maestro solution. I used it for my company's ancient JDE "green screen" product and the interface was good -- saved an amazing amount of time.

Jeff Durbin
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: F. Gavina and Sons, Inc.
(Chief Financial Officer, F. Gavina and Sons, Inc.) |

I used Cognos at DIRECTV before taking this role.

I evaluated Host Analytics and Adaptive Insights as well as others but Host and Adaptive were in my final three as well as Prophix.

We went with Prophix because it is premises-based. Their implementation team was professional and skilled and the job was done on time and on budget.

Over the long run, premises-based is cheaper if you have already made the investment in hardware and IT staff.

Aaron Mudry
Title: Controller
Company: OpenSymmetry
(Controller, OpenSymmetry) |

Need to consider Anaplan. Have used both Adaptive and Anaplan and the flexibility in applying it to areas other than FP&A has been a huge plus for Anaplan. We use FinancialForce and the integration can be done through an API or simple CSV downloads. No matter what you choose getting out of Excel is the way to go but make sure you're considering enough of the options available.

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