Making the Business Case for Cloud-Based Planning and Reporting

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Has your organization outgrown its spreadsheet-based system for budgeting and planning?  Have you “hit the wall” in using spreadsheets for financial consolidation and reporting? 

Are you ready to upgrade to a cloud-based EPM solution that can help you spend more time on value-added analysis and less time on data collection and fixing Excel errors?  Are you wondering how best to make the business case to your company for investing in a cloud-based planning or reporting solution?

A new Host Analytics white paper provides some guidance and tips on where to look for the savings and benefits your company can achieve by kicking the spreadsheet habit and moving to the cloud.

Download the Whitepaper

Reducing Reliance on Spreadsheets for Budgeting, Planning, and Reporting

Despite all of the news in the market about the high percentage of errors in spreadsheets (88% according to a University of Hawaii study) and the challenges of using spreadsheets for budgeting, planning, and reporting - many organizations continue to struggle with the tool. 

The key challenges in using spreadsheets and email for budgeting and planning: 

  • Too much manual work – the process takes too long
  • Lack of security sending budgeting spreadsheets via email
  • Spreadsheets are error-prone, low data quality
  • Limited reporting and analysis capabilities

Similar challenges are faced when using spreadsheets for financial consolidation and reporting: 

  • Too much time spent on data collection
  • Challenges in consolidating multiple spreadsheets and correcting errors
  • Limited reporting and analysis capabilities, and too much manual effort
  • Not being compliant with US GAAP or IFRS
  • Lack of controls and audit trails
  • Lack of security
  • Time-consuming and costly audit process

All of these issues only get magnified as an organization expands and grows in complexity.  The next logical step is to replace the spreadsheet-based process with purpose-built enterprise performance management (EPM) applications designed to streamline budgeting, planning, and financial reporting.    

Managing Budgeting, Planning and Financial Reporting in the Cloud

Historically, most organizations have deployed packaged EPM applications for budgeting, planning and financial reporting on-premises.  But many are now finding that this approach can be time-consuming and costly, especially for small and mid-sized organizations.  This is fueling increasing interest and demand for cloud-based budgeting and planning.  

The good news here is that cloud-based solutions have been available for a number of years, and many now offer the same capabilities as on-premises solutions.  They also provide a number of advantages over on-premises solutions:

  • Speed of deployment
  • Reduced reliance on IT
  • Faster innovation
  • No hardware or software to set up or maintain and upgrade over time
  • Reduced up-front costs and lower ongoing cost of ownership
  • Better security

These benefits are well-documented in a number of our published blog articles, white papers, customer videos, and case studies.  But to acquire and implement a cloud-based budgeting, planning or financial reporting system, you’ll still need to get approval for the annual subscription, as well as the implementation and training costs.

So how do you make the business case for investing in cloud-based EPM applications to your senior management?  Based on the work we’ve done with many other customers, here are some suggested areas to focus on and ranges of potential savings.

  • Reduce manual budget data collection and aggregation by up to 75%
  • Streamline budget reviews and approvals by 50 – 80%
  • Automate and accelerate management reporting by 50%
  • Reduce manual data collection and consolidation by up to 75%
  • Streamline adjustments and intercompany reconciliations by 50 – 80%
  • Automate and accelerate financial reporting by 50%
  • Improve audit trails, reduce audit costs
  • Finance time shifts to value-added analysis, reduce hiring needs

Cloud-Accounting.jpgFinally, a key benefit of implementing a cloud-based solution for budgeting, planning and reporting is that it provides a platform that can support other needs or future requirements.  Most cloud-based applications are part of an integrated suite that supports budgeting, planning, forecasting, financial consolidation, reporting and analysis of the business.  The solution can benefit not only the VP of FP&A’s office, but also your colleagues in the financial reporting department who are struggling with spreadsheets.  So there’s plenty of upside benefit to be gained here as well by replacing other spreadsheet processes with the same platform.

To learn more about the benefits your organization can achieve by replacing spreadsheets with Host Analytics Enterprise Performance Platform, check out our customer videos and case studies.  And for more information about how to build the business case for cloud-based planning and reporting solutions, download our free white paper.

Download the Whitepaper

Posted by on July 27, 2016
Topics: Planning
John O'Rourke

John O’Rourke is Vice President of Strategic Marketing at Host Analytics. With a background in accounting and finance, John has over 30 years of experience in the software industry and 20 years of experience in EPM product marketing at Hyperion Solutions, Oracle and Host Analytics. He has worked with many customers and partners on financial reporting and planning initiatives and has spoken and written on many topics in EPM. John has also held positions in strategic marketing and product marketing at Dun & Bradstreet Software, Kenan Systems, and Decisyon. John has a BS degree in accounting from Bentley University and an MBA from Boston College.

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