April 24, 2019

5 Signs Your Financial Planning Software Needs a Refresh

By David Conrad

In recent years, we have been seeing more and more middle market companies leverage financial planning software such as Adaptive Insights, Anaplan and Host Analytics within their finance departments to create budgets, forecasts and generate regular reports. When implemented properly, these tools can transform a company’s operations, improve productivity, reduce costs and increase profit margins.

However, the reality is that many financial planning software implementations are not executed flawlessly. Often, implementations underemphasize the most relevant parts of the business’s income statement or make the interface with key, external business partners too complex. Additionally, as a company grows or changes, the tool’s initial implementation may no longer meet the organization’s current or future needs. As a result, the financial planning software may need a refresh to improve its configuration, formulas, interface design or reporting format.

So how do you know if it’s time for a financial planning software refresh? Here are five of the most telling signs:

  1. The majority of your modeling occurs outside of the tool

    Consider what you purchased the planning software for – to be primarily an aggregator of financial results or a tool to help you produce your financial budgets, forecasts and reports more efficiently? If the later, it is important to be aware of how much analysis, modeling and reporting occur outside the tool in Excel. If the amount is significant, this is sign that your team should take a fresh look at the alignment between your department’s goals and the tool’s configuration.

  2. You’re consistently missing forecasts by at least 10%

    There are several reasons why a revenue or earnings forecast may be consistently inaccurate. This could be due to the forecasting process, skill or experience level of the people involved, or the configuration and capabilities of the financial planning tool itself. With regards to a tool, one of the more common issues affecting forecasting performance is that the most relevant and impactful revenue/cost drivers of your company are not leveraged effectively in the tool. Moreover, if it is difficult to quickly identify where the primary drivers in the tool are located, then this is another sign that your planning tool needs a refresh.

  3. Business partners aren’t seeing the benefits

    If the finance team simply does not use the tool, finds reasons to work around it or if they have not expanded into other key features (such as reporting, charting, etc.), this is a sign that the planning tool’s configuration likely needs a refresh, in addition to a refresh in personnel training. Alternatively, and equally as important, if business partners outside of finance have voiced concerns about not seeing the benefits of the planning tool, this is a major cause for concern. On the other hand, if external business partners are expressing that they are experiencing positive benefits to their own departments, that is a great sign that the tool is achieving its goals in a modern corporate environment.

  4. You have inconsistent data

    If your team is spending an inordinate amount of time manipulating operational data, such as HR and CRM data, off-line before uploading into the tool, or if these different data sources simply do not match the data in the tool, then a fresh look at the data integration between your tool and these other important operational data sources is warranted.

  5. Forecasting has become a manual process

    Financial planning tools should make budgeting, forecasting and modeling more efficient by leveraging internal formulas that make rolling forecasts a low intensity task. If you find your team having to manually input most of the information necessary for a rolling forecast, then the tool’s formulas could use a second look.

BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER

Cloud-based financial planning software are becoming more common in middle market companies.  However, as time goes on, the initial implementation of these tools will become outdated as the business changes. Bridgepoint Consulting can help your company decide if now is the time for a tool refresh. Explore our Financial Consulting services or get in touch today for a free consultation.

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About David Conrad

David Conrad is a corporate finance and FP&A professional fifteen (15+) years of diversified industry experience serving both public and private companies. As a Consultant in Bridgepoint’s Financial Consulting practice, he has established strong working relationships with a wide range of business partners across Central Texas. Conrad is adept at working with complex data sets and IT systems to implement more effective reporting processes that yield greater degrees of transparency, accountability and understanding. He also has highly tuned analytical skills along with strong consulting skills and leadership capabilities to help clients meet their business objectives.

Areas of expertise:

  • Operations Management
  • IT Systems Integration
  • Budgeting, Forecasting, Modeling
  • Acquisitions & Wind-Downs
  • Organizational Right-Sizing Initiatives
dconrad@bridgepointconsulting.com Recent Blog Posts LinkedIn