Excel- and Web-based Budgeting for Microsoft Dynamics GP

This article will focus on platform options when investing in a new budgeting tool.

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Look, it seems like I’ve talked about anything and everything about budgeting so I went directly to the source – a team of consultants. I asked them what the common problem they face with their clients when it comes to budgeting, and surprisingly, they all had the same answer. The majority of their clientele has never had a professional budgeting system, nor did they have a satisfactory budget model that reflected how their business operates. As mentioned in the budget tools for Microsoft GP users replacing Forecaster article, there are around 48,000 GP customers out of 200,000 Dynamics ERP users, and if your company is either one of the 2,000 companies using Forecaster as a budgeting tool or one of the 90% or more organizations who create their budget in homegrown Excel models, this article is for you. In this article, I will discuss Excel- and Web-based Budgeting for Dynamics GP.

Most organizations rely on Microsoft Excel because it’s been around for decades. The familiarity with the program makes it comfortable and easy to use, but there are some limitations that are inherent in the application. Excel is a great tool for modeling and analysis, but it isn’t the best tool for the use of budgeting. The issue is that most companies use Excel to warehouse historical budget data, which is difficult to access and prone to error. The budget is not done at a granular level that allows the budget-to-actual variance analysis to be actionable. Although home-grown Excel models may be the first platform of choice for most organizations in the budgeting world, proprietary and web-based platforms are popular as well. With an Excel add-in running on top of a budget system database, it can streamline and accelerate the planning model. Moreover, an add-in upgrades Excel in terms of functionality, with additional budgeting abilities, reusable templates, and secure collaboration. If your organization has high budgeting demands and forecasting needs, I highly encourage you to learn about the different budgeting solutions available to your company.

Some independent software vendors (ISVs) argue that Excel is a jumble, whether an add-in or a manual Excel model, particularly for budgeting. But, this argument is typically associated with marketing their own proprietary platform solution, both web-based or proprietary.  Since these solutions are not Excel-powered, working on a budget might be more challenging to learn because you and your company will be dealing with non-Excel rules and formulas.  Consulting and sufficient training might be something your company should consider when looking into budgeting tools for your Microsoft GP enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

No budgeting tool is going to solve every person or organization’s problems, but you should eliminate any software options that aren’t an actual solution for your planning goals. Modern budgeting tools should allow you to compare your historical actuals with projections side-by-side for the coming period, simplify adding multiple budget line items for accounts, distribute annual totals to months, craft reusable input templates, manage workflow, view authorship, perform roll-ups, and employ parameters like Department, Budget version and Entity.

“What-if” analyses can be helpful for your company to see how different scenarios can affect your outcome. For instance, when planning for new personnel, you may want to look beyond the general ledger (GL) to break down your on-boarding, payroll costs, and training. These types of tasks should be easy-to-use for all levels of your management team.

Web-based BI solutions are the present and future, and budgeting solutions have made that move. With a web-based application, users have access to the application from any computer connected to the Internet using a browser rather than using an application that has been installed on their local computer. The accessibility and flexibility a web-based solution offers to analytics and data management is what makes the solution so valuable. Web-based budgeting models are easier to deploy, useful for users, easier to maintain and keep secure, and easier to expand as your company grows. I suggest you ensure the tool meets your company’s specific needs as opposed to selecting the first web-based budgeting solution your company encounters. Web-based budgeting is becoming more prevalent. Also, if your organization is considering the move to the cloud, know that cloud computing is computing based on the Internet. Cloud computing typically gives users access to the same type of functionality through the Internet.

If your current budgeting software is limiting your company from making smart choices for your organization, I advise you to invest in a new budgeting solution. Some of today’s BI solutions join the familiarity of Excel and the flexibility of web and a database-driven solution into one product. When searching for a budgeting solution, consider the goals and needs of your organization. Some important things to consider when choosing the best option for your company are the size of your organization, pre-built integration to GP, offering of user bundles, product support, and the amount of Microsoft Dynamics GP customers the software company has. Best-of-breed BI solutions deliver real-time accurate data when your company needs it. When reports and spreadsheets contain more data than it was built to handle, Excel can become inactive and stagnant. In a growing business, you will need a software that allows real-time data sharing and updating. Having an accurate view of a bigger picture with a BI tool that can combine data from various data sources will support clear analysis of your information no matter how large the size.

Solver enables world-class decisions with BI360, a leading web-based CPM suite made up of budgeting, reporting, dashboards, and data warehousing, delivered through a web portal. Solver is reinventing CPM with its next generation solution. BI360 empowers business users with modern features including innovative use of Excel in the model design process. If you’re interested in learning more, our team is excited to hear about your organizational needs and goals.

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