Monday, 23 March 2015

Time to move from spreadsheets to specialised software?

Many companies keep their financial information in spreadsheets; carefully designed and programmed by an accountant, business owner or financial manager. Spreadsheets are a wonderful tool and have served many a business’ budgeting, forecasting and planning needs; but there comes a time when you need to look at moving across to specialised financial software that gives you more control over, and insight into, your financial information.


Here are a few ways to know that time has come…

Growing in size & complexity 
Spreadsheets are perfectly fine for small simple companies; but as you start to grow and expand your services or gain employees and even potentially expand your focus, you need more input and have to start consolidating spreadsheets. Macros and formulas get increasingly complicated and can break and your spreadsheets become unusable. 

Specialised budgeting and forecasting software is designed and built to manage your expansion needs with ease. 

Multiple businesses under one company
Consolidating budgets and forecasts across multiple departments is difficult enough; trying to do so with multiple departments from multiple businesses in a spreadsheet is pure madness. 

Different businesses have different reporting needs, they need different information to make the right decisions for their budgeting, forecasting and planning. And one error made in one department of one of the businesses can leave analysis of the bigger picture for the holding company impossible and completely skewed. 

Specialised software provides you with the means to pull multiple versions of reports based on the information you need, and allows you to get the meaningful analysis you need to make your business decisions. 

Too many cooks...
In a smaller business, there is usually one person who manages your finances - one person collecting data, inputting it and creating reports from it. Spreadsheets are created for this - calculating values and crunching numbers. The only weakness in this set up is that one person. 

Once you start growing, you will start having more managers who have valuable information to contribute and have a need for pulling their own reports with data relevant to their own divisions or departments. If all of these people begin interacting with that spreadsheet, the weaknesses and room for error begin to multiply. 

This is the time to look at a dedicated software solution that can offer more than the basics. 

Risky business
With spreadsheets, your IP sits in the head of the person who designed the spreadsheet; so if they leave the company, the IP leaves with him. A specialised toolset has formal administration modules, so everything of importance stays within your system, regardless of who inputs the information. 

Consistency is key
When different divisions are sending in their budgets in whatever format works for them and information is organised inconsistently, it becomes increasingly complicated to reconcile it all. This becomes a massive time issue for all parties concerned, with repeated back and forth’s and arguments, dreaded by all. 

Current specialised software allows input from multiple parties, and then can reconcile all the information in a consistent format. 

“User Friendly” is more than words
When you want to be able to get input and feedback from non-financial users in your business - the people who are on the front line, managing your business; you need your data to be accessible and understandable to everyone. 

Spreadsheets and endless lists of data are extremely intimidating to people who are not financially inclined, leading to resistance and avoidance; delaying your budgeting process and causing undue stress for all involved. 

There is dedicated financial software that is specially designed to be properly user friendly; making the budgeting and forecasting process simple and beneficial to financial and non-financial users.  

When your budget becomes more than a “nice-to-have”, and you begin to use it as a way to map the future of your business; you need to take a look at the state of your spreadsheets and make a call… The time comes in every business where you need to let the specialists focus on what they are best at, so you and your staff can focus on what you are best at.

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