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Recommendations for replacement budgeting tool

Ivy Freeman's Profile

Hello, I am wondering if you have an recommendations for replacing our current budgeting software. Currently, we use Microsoft Forecaster, which has ease-of-integration with our accounting software, Microsoft Dynamics GP. In the next couple of years, Microsoft will no longer release updated versions of Forecaster, which means the relationship between it and GP will degrade over time. I have advocated for a total re-tooling of our accounting software by shifting to a cloud-based ERP with robust accounting and analytics capabilities. However, I am not sure what combinations of software make the most sense and are the most cost-effective. For background, we are a non-profit, typically with modest funds allocated to technological needs. Yet the push in recent years from the leadership level is to have greater levels of real-time visibility and insights into our financial performance. I'm hoping to identify a great set of software solutions that accomplishes this and works well with a budgeting/forecasting tool. Thank you in advance!

Answers

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

What is the leadership looking for in a real-time budget besides organizational-level Budget vs. Actual?

For example:
* BvA on a grant-by-grant basis
* BvA on a location-by-location basis
* Visuals
* Ability to show underlying assumptions to budget figures

And what do they mean by real-time?
* 24/7 access by all authorized parties
* Weekly
* Monthly

Ivy Freeman
Title: Director, Finance
Company: Anonymous
(Director, Finance, Anonymous) |

My main question is what are some budgeting software tools that work well with a robust ERP system.

The term "real-time" would apply an ERP software's ability to supply actual performance data. Our current system today only allows us to view financial performance once financial statements are produced at month-end. (i.e., 2 weeks after the month in question as ended).

Hope this clarifies the question.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

I don't get it. You want a "real time" budget software but your financials are usually produced 2 weeks after monthends.

The "real time" budget software will be USELESS as it will be processing/analyzing the same delayed data as what your Accounting system has.

You will do more good if you improve transaction capture and processing. Real-time capture and processing coupled with real-time budgeting is the holy grail.

Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |

Ivy, not recommending any particular tool, but you might want to look at this free white paper for it's process info:

"Battle-tested Best Practices in Planning and Budgeting"
https://www.proformative.com/whitepapers/battle-tested-best-practices-planning-budgeting

Best... Sarah

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

I have been getting great results using Budget Maestro by Centage Corporation. The main reasons I like this solution is that in addition to all planning and budgeting functions that are designed to be aggregated or consolidated from multiple entities or business units, advance use of drivers and seemingly an endless number of business rules and business logic already built into the software, where you never have to enter a single formula or link, you get a full set of financial statements for each of your budget periods.

The system works as an extension of your actual accounting system into your future budget periods and uses a dedicated general ledger, built into the budgeting software. When you link your budgeting software GL to your actual accounting GL (there is a direct interface to Dynamics GP and many other popular GLs), the actual accounting data is instantly transferred into your budgeting software and you can immediately analyze it against the budget data.

What really impressed me when I chose this software was that the internal budgeting software GL uses all budget data, assumptions and business rules and logic to automatically create journal entries in the right GL accounts (in the budgeting system GL) in the correct budget periods and in the right amounts. This occurs automatically, in real time, and for every single defined GL account. What this means is that, in addition to your standard forecasted Income Statement, you get a complete and accurate Balance Sheet and also a Statement of Cash Flows. Of course, you can define many other reports to suit your needs.

The importance of this is that I can actually see the future (forecasted) financial position of my company, including a set of financial ratios that I have to monitor either for compliance or internal use, and any other meaningful information I can only gain from looking at a Balance Sheet report.

I also was impressed with the simple setup of the software and budget plans, where I didn’t need any outside consulting or help form the company. I am able to maintain the model in-house and I don’t have to deal with any placement of formulas, links or any other programming, so I know I can change the model without breaking it or introducing errors that will require troubleshooting.

I would definitely recommend this solution and understand that it is very popular with not for profit organizations.

Rahul Mohta
Title: Independant Advisor for Microsoft Dynami..
Company: Real Dynamics
LinkedIn Profile
(Independant Advisor for Microsoft Dynamics AX, Real Dynamics) |

Hi Ivy,
One tool that must be included in the evaluation is Microsoft Dynamics AX. Though is it a full fledge ERP, it's budgeting and planning capabilities are exceptional.
One of the Microsoft customer case studies to read is:
https://customers.microsoft.com/Pages/CustomerStory.aspx?recid=27988

Regards
Rahul Mohta
Independent Advisor

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