Budgeting and Forecasting in a Multi-cloud World

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This article is the final installment in a series focused on how Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools can serve as a true solution, particularly zooming in on budgeting and forecasting challenges companies face with data housed in multiple cloud and on-premise systems.

The last blog article I wrote, I zoomed in further on the multi-cloud world that businesses today are navigating – and how Corporate Performance Management (CPM) and Business Intelligence (BI) processes and specifically, modern financial and operational reporting tools, can function as a complete solution to the related technological and data management oriented challenges we’re all facing. If you think about all of the essential enterprise technology solutions making the shift to the cloud, it can seem like a lot, especially in terms of the challenge to integrate and/or combine all of this diverse data. There are also on-premise tools, which is where plenty of accounting systems are still residing. But what about budgeting and forecasting – and all of the historical data from disparate sources needed to effectively plan? This article will focus on planning as an important BI and CPM process – and how the right application can be a true solution to your obstacles related to multi-cloud management.

On Facebook, one ad that keeps targeting me has to do with a Google Chrome plug-in that pulls in any discount code available when you’re checking out with an online merchant. Genius, right? I don’t know how effective it is, but anyone that is committed to scoring a bargain would definitely agree that switching between different coupon web sites or email marketing options to achieve the maximum savings can be annoying. Does this promise of synergy actually deliver? I’m not sure in this example, but in the realm of budgeting and forecasting, there’s a more concrete answer and path forward for the consumer.

Much like the marketing promises of the Google Chrome plug-in, in the business realm, budget and forecast contributors and managers might bounce between cloud applications, like a cloud ERP system, Workday or ADP for Human Resources (HR) and payroll processes, a support ticket management program, Google Analytics to monitor web site visits, maybe an event management tool, and the list goes on. This can be a lot to logistically maneuver to retrieve the diverse historical data you might want to include to properly budget at a financial and operational levl, in terms of logging in and out of your applications, but also your worker mind has to go in different directions across unique web user interfaces. Not to mention that there are plenty of people still relying on homegrown budgeting processes, so connecting the data to the planning tool is another hurdle. So fun, right?

That’s a no. Budgeting and forecasting is not an option to staying competitive and making smart plans for continued organizational health. You might be pulling revenue and expense actuals, lead conversion dollars through referral traffic or event attendance, e-commerce data through email opens and clicks, as well as other projects within your company. Furthermore, the business culture continues to evolve in the direction of interdepartmental planning for more integrated strategies at all levels.

I wrote about the significance of a data warehouse to consolidate multiple data sources and diverse information into one place, but this was already established for budgeting and forecasting processes. Today’s pre-built, customizable data warehouses, positioned within a CPM or BI suite, delivers a unified space to house all of your important data from diverse sources, cloud-based or on-premise. But another important element to budgeting off of a data warehouse is integrations.

Integrations are the connective tissue for enterprise technology. You should seek a budgeting and forecasting solution that provides deep integrations to your different applications. A few budgeting tools can connect directly to on-premise data sources, but with multiple cloud solutions, a data warehouse transcends as a solution to manage multi-cloud budgeting and forecasting – as long as the integrations are in place. Different systems have better ETL and/or integration technologies than others to help your team configure the integrations you require.

Some BI and CPM solutions are on-premise, while some are pure cloud, and others offer the hybridity of both deployment options. However, a data warehouse is nearly a requisite investment if you want to successfully manage budgeting based multiple cloud transaction systems. When it comes to budgeting and forecasting, you will likely want a tool that is powered by an Excel add-in, but accessible to end users through a web portal, so the budgeting team can contribute from anywhere with an internet connection, without needing IT to get involved because of the familiarity that Excel and web interfaces provide. The tool should be business user friendly, especially in terms of collaborating, but also secure. It’s essential to pinpoint what’s important to your company to effectively tell the story of your road map. And the importance of how robust the integration technology is cannot be stressed enough when you’re extracting, transforming, and loading (ETL) all of your diverse data types.

Budgeting and forecasting is only going to become more beneficial and results-driven if you are able to harness all of your data – from both cloud and on-premise solutions – to plan precisely. As you pinpoint a strategy for managing your multiple software systems, you are probably going to need a solution that provides a singular platform for your diverse data types – because of robust, modern integration technology. You might have some questions as you navigate the search for the right planning tool, and Solver, Inc. is happy to answer any questions and review BI360’s easy-to-use, Excel- and web-based budgeting and reporting solution that enables teamwork and streamlined decision-making capabilities for your BI experience.

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