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Does Anyone Use QuickBooks for Corporate Budgeting?

QuickBooks Enterprise Budgeting & Forecasting Reviews

We use QuickBooks Enterprise as our accounting system and we are planning to roll out a new budgeting system in the next month or so. Do you use the budgeting and forecasting tools in QuckBooks as the basis of your corporate budgeting? I see on another post that most small companies still seem to be using Excel just through exports of their Accounting systems. If you do use QuickBooks, how do you use it and what parts (if any) do you do externally in Excel or elsewhere? What are the strengths/weaknesses of each system?

Answers

Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Consulting CFO and Business Operations A..
Company: Growth Accelerator
(Consulting CFO and Business Operations Advisor, Growth Accelerator) |

Anon,

We always used Excel, staying outside of QB. It was primarily because QB doesn't work interactively in your company...seat license problem. Are you going to have the CEO and VP of engineering install QB and learn it just to goof with the model?

Also wanted to run multiple scenarios with staff and revenue, which QB didn't work well with.

Once the budget was set, we'd drop that into QB, but that is more of a "plan vs actual" thing, that QB is just fine at.

We've since moved to cloud solutions on all of my companies. In some we are still doing Excel just because the principals want to see how the models work...not just type in data.

KP

Topic Expert
Jaime Campbell
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Tier One Services, LLC
(Chief Financial Officer, Tier One Services, LLC) |

I agree with Keith that QuickBooks has no facility for multiple scenarios and it often makes sense to create a model in Excel and drop the final numbers into QB.

That being said, it is possible to create more than plain vanilla budgets in QuickBooks. I will be presenting a Proformative webinar soon on these nifty tips & tricks: http://bit.ly/IHe8ZX

The advantages of staying in QB is that everything is in one place, and if there is an update to be made, it need only be made in the one place.

The disadvantages include the aforementioned limitations, lack of collapsibility of the accounts, the fact that if someone in a multi-user environment messes with your budget, you can't easily fix it or even know about it.

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |

Excel into QB Enterprise here. That was my choice.

Our budgeting process is not departmentally interactive. We are a local governmental agency. Our budget is effectively pre-determined by next year's fund availability as forecast by the tax authorities along with federal, state and local funding appropriations for our type of entity.

Excel gives me much more power to manipulate the related cost functions between line items than QB which is basically input the numbers by account by month.

This is NOTHING like my private industry days, where I proudly developed a complex budgeting process that was interactive for all department heads, required VP approval and provided regular feedback to the managers and executives as to meeting targets, variance explanations, etc. It was fantastic IMHO because it was "bottom up" and there was buy in from those who helped create it.

I was even able to create pro forma balance sheets for each month of the year which helped immensely in obtaining realistic bank covenants and avoiding the potential issues they can engender.

Government is so different! ;-( We're expected to plan ten years ahead with surety as though there is stability. But, we actually exist hand-to-mouth on an almost daily basis due to ever changing, actual tax revenue receipts and highly variable, future funding projections.

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

As mentioned above, QuickBooks, regardless of version was not designed to be a comprehensive budgeting and forecasting solution. It will hold static values, as entered, and multiple versions / scenarios are not possible. Furthermore, using assumptions and drivers to forecast revenue, expense and other items must be done in an external system that supports these features.

Implementing this process in a spreadsheet (e.g., MS-Excel) is generally not a good idea because of the numerous pitfalls you will invariably encounter. There is little or no internal control over the programming process, reviews and acceptance, and no matter how simple or complex the model is, there will be flaws in it, errors and commissions, some of which may contribute to material weaknesses, as they applies to this type of activity.

Further more, using spreadsheets will not give you the opportunity to more accurately forecast your Balance Sheet and the derived Statement of Cash Flows, both of which are important, and perhaps even critical in smaller organizations.

As a QuicBooks user, you may want to investigate an application from Centage Corporation, titled Budget Maestro, which seamlessly interfaces with QuicBooks (and other GLs) and addresses all the issues you and the other contributors to this thread brought up.

Bryan Rogers
Title: Senior Manager
Company: Armanino
(Senior Manager, Armanino) |

This is a problem we see quite frequently where budgeting and planning have become a greater priority and the company has QuickBooks. There are many options for you and it is important to know your budget, resources available, model complexity and the number of users that will be involved in your budgeting and forecasting process. Excel often does not work since it is difficult to collaborate effectively, maintain model integrity and provide flexible access options. Your best option is the one that obviously fits in your budget, solves your most pressing issues and seamlessly integrates into QuickBooks. You do not want to spend valuable time manipulating monthly data to tie to the month end results. You want to press a button and make the integration happen.

My recommendation would be to gather your requirements together and do some research on the cloud-based solutions that provide an integration to QuickBooks. I have had great success with Adaptive Planning in this regard.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

Anon,

I don't know the size of your company, however I have looked into some of the software suggestions listed here previously and they are relatively expensive for the couple days worth of work it takes me to export a years worth of financial data and build my budget. I export the budget from QBs and an annual P&L by class (we have 11 locations) and create some formula's to calculate out our proposed revenues for the new year.

I do however use Biztools software, which gives me financial metrics to go along with the reports I can get from QBs since they are fairly basic. Biztools is coming out with a budgeting segment very soon, which I am excited to see how it integrates. I would be happy to post something or message you once it's released and I can use it.

Tom Hartman
Title: VP Business Development
Company: Whitebirch Software
(VP Business Development, Whitebirch Software) |

Anon,

I agree with all comments re: the shortcomings of using QuickBooks or Excel as your budgeting tool. Bryan is correct that Adaptive Planning is a solid solution, but if your modeling is complex and your senior management is really into scenario and sensitivity analysis, you should investigate the hosted product from Whitebirch Software.

Anonymous
(Accounting Manager) |

Don't use QB for budgeting. It has too many shortcomings. Short-term set up an excel worksheet for your budgeting and feed in your actuals into the excel sheet via QB extracts. Long-term look at getting a budget solution when your need is justified. Adaptive Planning is a company I worked with in the past where I was able to directly intregrate through the QB interface. It was the only solution that I evaluated that could pull off a direct QB intregration that would refresh actuals everyday. Most of the other solutions typically work with ERP systems, are not designed for use with quickbooks, have to use a third party application, or have no experience working with intregrations with QB users.

Jim Hinkel
Title: CFO
Company: RyMed Technologies
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, RyMed Technologies) |

Like everyone else, we simply load budget/forecast information into QBs to utilize the budget/forecast vs. actual reporting capabilities.

Adaptive Planning was mentioned as an alternative solution. I attended their one-day seminar and concluded it would be a wonderful solution, but overkill for our 20-employee company. I was quoted roughly $30K for licenses, training and implementation assistance. Plan Guru isn't in the same league as AP, but I could implement it for roughly $3-5K in my small company.

Unfortunately, I waited too long and got stuck doing it the old fashion "model in Excel and load" method for 2014 for reporting as I stated in my opening.

Good luck!

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