Most finance professionals know that budgeting, planning, modeling, reporting, and analytics are all related business processes.
But are you using the tools that allow you to perform all of those tasks efficiently? The right tools can simplify and unify these processes so you can execute the management cycle on a repeatable basis as needed for your company and industry.
Just what is the right tool for the job? Certainly not spreadsheets, email and manual processes - it's corporate performance management (CPM) software, also known as enterprise performance management (EPM). In fact, the cloud is becoming the preferred delivery approach for new CPM or EPM solutions. This article explains how you can use this technology to automate and accelerate your business' most important finance functions.
Bringing the Budget in Line with Other Processes
What does your current budgeting process look like now? If your answer is, "It's disorganized and lengthy," EPM software will help.
You can't create a budget without drawing information from several sources. For a start, you need historic financial and operating results. Then you need goals and objectives regarding sales and revenue for the future period, and those numbers need to be realistic. Then there are the fixed costs and overheads. And of course, there are the direct costs of running the business.
Cloud-based EPM budgeting software collects and stores all of this data in one place. You no longer need to hunt down the director of sales and marketing to find out the assumptions behind their expense budget. This information can be readily available within the EPM platform - making enterprise-wide budgeting less painfull.
A Model Modeling Process
A firm's business model determines its very viability. In order to determine whether your company has enough resources to carry out daily operations, find new customers, and expand into new markets, it's imperative that you have all of this information readily available.
If you don't already have a solution in place that puts all of this information in one spot, the modeling process becomes significantly more difficult. And if you're at a multinational company, you can't exactly just pop down the hall to ask Ted from Manufacturing what last year's numbers were.
Cloud-based EPM software unifies this data so that modeling becomes far simpler. Analysts in multiple departments can operate from the same set of baseline data and assumptions. Moreover, you can link financial and operational models so that you and the c-suite can quickly see the impact of business decisions on your plans and forecasts.
Make Reporting Timely and Actionable
Timely and accurate management reporting is essential to keeping a study pulse on the business and having the agility to respond quickly to new opportunities and threats. Yet many organizations struggle to deliver reports and briefing books to management, relying on manual copying and pasting of information from different sources into static documents that aren't easily updated as information changes.
What if there was a way to make management reporting more timely and accurate, without hiring a lot of new staff? EPM software can do that. It automates the reporting process so it's not a hassle or worse, a source of panic.
Need to quickly report financial results to senior management, the board of directors, investors and other external stakeholders? Spreadsheets and email have been proven to be error-prone and lacking in the proper controls and audit trails when it comes to collecting, consolidating and accurately reporting financial results. Many organizations are adopting cloud-based EPM software to automate data collection and consolidation, and accelerate the financial close and reporting process.
Analytics Can Be Easy
Budgeting, modeling, planning, and reporting are all regular business processes. Analytics, on the other hand, is often more ad hoc. It typically takes place when specific questions arise.
But that's not the best way to approach it. Analytics should be a continuous process, providing insights into the "what" and "why" behind financial results and help decision makers model "what if" future scenarios. Firms need ongoing analytics in order to gain deeper insight into their data, and key business trends.
Cloud-based EPM software makes analytics easier. You don't have to spend time and effort searching for the information you need, and the solution can automatically generate the charts, graphs, or other visualizations that make the data come to life for everyone who needs it, even those without finance backgrounds.
Budgeting, planning, modeling, reporting, and analytics shouldn't be separate, silo'd processes. Cloud-based EPM software transforms them into a unified, seamless set of processes. To learn more, check out the white paper, 'Introduction to EPM in the Cloud'.