Recently, CFO.com surveyed over 2,700 finance executives to learn how long it typically takes to complete the budgeting cycle. Not surprisingly, most companies are spending a lot longer than they would like to get their budget completed on schedule.
On average, top-performing companies finish in 25 days compared to 56 days for the bottom performers. That means it’s taking the most capable companies around 200 hours to complete budgeting, with many companies taking more than twice that. Budgeting, at any company, is an overwhelming obligation and a disruptive distraction. But what if that was unnecessary?
With the right mix of technology and smart strategies, any company can save dozens of work hours on the next budget cycle without compromising the process in any way.
Automate Data Management
Manual inputs are the scourge of the budget cycle. Creating workbooks for each cost center manager, for example, drains away time and resources. Relying on automation to retrieve and input data speeds up budgeting workloads significantly. Imagine being able to compare this year’s numbers to previous years without having to track down the historical data. Automation can be used to prepare or distribute budgets and to upload them to an ERP system seamlessly. Budgeting technology that automates data management eliminates hours of work that can then be spent on other things.
Upgrade the Utility of Spreadsheets
Spreadsheets remain a popular budgeting tool, but they have some notable limitations, particularly as budgets get bigger and broader. Trying to manage data spread across dozens of static spreadsheets only adds inefficiency to the budgeting process, but basic spreadsheets don’t integrate easily. Instead of abandoning Excel, upgrade the basic functionality of the spreadsheets with tools that allow users to explore up or down into the data. Improving access to data speeds up the budgeting cycle while also eliminating unknowns and uncertainties.
Focus on Drivers Above All
Budgeting can get bogged down in the details. Instead of working at the chart of accounts level, focus on the metrics that indicate the most about performance: risk, profit, working capital, etc. They require the most attention anyway, and to go deeper would only distract accountants without adding anything to the planning process. When automation is doing things like extracting data from the general ledger, finance professionals can focus on analyzing key metrics instead of organizing the underlying information.
Streamline Workbook Distribution
The budget cycle can grind to a halt while waiting for cost center managers to input their numbers into budgeting workbooks. Putting these workbooks on a centralized platform accessible to all stakeholders eliminates the need to distribute and track the documents. Instead of being a process, it’s just a few inputs, allowing the budgeting cycle to move forward without setbacks.
Remove Corrupt Data
The detailed-oriented nature of budgeting combined with an over-reliance on manual inputs means that errors inevitably end up in the data. Finding and reconciling them is time consuming and never fully effective, which is why budget managers are increasingly relying on technology to do it. Data quality improves throughout finance. Simultaneously, errors that caused short-term delays or long-term disruptions are cleaned up to make budgets precise resources for planning and strategy.
Imagine adding an extra week of productivity to your calendar. It’s advantages like those that keep companies competitive. insightsoftware has multiple tools for accelerating, simplifying, and improving budgeting. Which one is right for you? Contact us to find out.