Excel has been a cornerstone tool in organizations of any and all sizes over the past thirty years. Chances are, if you have worked in professional settings during this time, you have at least opened an Excel file. But, if you have worked in finance not only have you worked with Excel, you LOVE Excel. Excel is your safety blanket.
Why Transition from Excel to Continuous Planning?
For startup organizations Excel is usually the first planning and budgeting tool. In a startup environment one or two people are managing the annual planning and budgeting process. As the organization grows, so does the planning and budgeting process. A growing organization creates more departments, more budget owners, more sources of data, more models, more plans and more Excel files. Organizations that experience this growth often reach a point where the Finance office spends the majority of their time consolidating Excel files to produce management reporting and an annual budget.
There are five key organizational symptoms of using Excel as the primary tool for planning, budgeting and forecasting:
Data Integrity and Consolidation Issues – An Excel-based planning and budgeting process creates an environment of uncertainty, no single source of truth exists. If two Excel files have a different value for the same budget line item, how do you determine who is correct? The Finance office also spends their time manually consolidating Excel files and producing reports. Manual consolidation is prone to error, requiring multiple changes to be made, and if a change is made, Finance has to reconsolidate and re-report manually.
Siloed, Pockets of Institutional Knowledge – An Excel-based planning and budgeting process lacks a formal workflow. Budget owners have a deep understanding of the nuances of their annual budget. This institutional knowledge is often lost if it is not captured in a Continuous Planning platform.
Lack of Standardized Planning and Budgeting Processes – Planning and budgeting in Excel leads to a lack of global assumptions and controls. One department may have separate drivers from another department for planning for employee costs, leading to key differences between departments.
Time to Produce Management and Annual Reporting – The Finance office can spend days, weeks, even months collecting and consolidating Excel files from across the organization. This puts a tremendous strain on the Finance team, creating a culture of budget resentment. With Excel-based planning and budgeting it is nearly impossible for Finance to be proactive, and support the organization’s strategic decision making process.
Lack of Ability to Conduct What-If Analysis – In an Excel-based planning and budgeting process Finance is unable to quickly conduct what-if analysis or create multiple versions of the budget or forecast. How does Finance respond to the executive team when asked about a potential merger? How would Finance quickly model and project the impact of that decision? The answer is usually, long nights, with findings based on error prone Excel-based models.
If you are suffering any or all of these five symptoms, you and your organization are ready for an Excel replacement. The Planful platform will provide your organization with a powerful, easy to use and fast to deploy Continuous Planning platform. The Excel-based interface gives you the visual comfort of Excel, but all the power a modern day finance professional expects. With Planful you can transform your finance team from data gatherers to powerful data analysts.
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