This article will discuss budgeting solutions that can expand your Manufacturing planning processes with Sage 100.

It is becoming clear today that Business Intelligence (BI) analytics tools are becoming more important as it is the way to turn important data into dynamic decision-making for the future of the organization. There are various software choices that can assist manufacturing companies using the Sage 100 enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in taking their budgeting to the next level, whether you choose to design your own model in Excel, rely on native Sage functionality, or select an independent software vendor (ISV) tool. This article will focus on the top features and functions in modern budgeting software that will impact the way you manage and analyze data for your manufacturing company.

Manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to grow their business and increase their profitability. Investing in the right tool is a great start. Some key characteristics you should be seeking in a budgeting tool are ease-of-use, collaboration, and security. With these characteristics in mind, let’s focus on how the following tools measure up for manufacturing customers using Sage 100: Excel, Microsoft Forecaster, Prophix, BI360, Oracle’s Hyperion, and IBM’s Cognos TM1.
Today’s third party budgeting applications vary from Excel-based, Web-Based, Cloud-based, proprietary, or a combination. It may seem like a logical assumption that Excel-based solutions would be the most convenient to choose, which may be true, but there is definitely more to consider when investing in a budgeting solution. Almost 90% of today’s companies depend on Microsoft Excel for their budgeting process, but Excel is not built with a database that allows for secure collaboration. However, there are several solutions that offer Excel add-ins. Modern Excel add-ins are ribbon additions to the top toolbar that improve a spreadsheet program to better analyze and plan with company data. However, everything is moving to the web. Web-based tools has been revolutionizing the data analysis and management experience, offering anyone access from anywhere as long as they have internet connectivity. There is also pure Cloud software, which means that they are hosted in the web by a third party, are typically not Excel-based in nature, and usually require a BI data store for the company’s analytics.
Over 2,000 companies, including manufacturing companies, have adopted Forecaster for budgeting tasks, likely due to the strength of the Microsoft brand. However, Microsoft Forecaster users say the application has major integration problems. Although Forecaster is a free application, which is considered an advantage, there are more disadvantages that outweigh the good. Forecaster has a proprietary user platform that does not work within Excel, which means there is an entire set of independent coding and formulas a user has to learn with limited features and functionality. Forecaster users are saying these issues they face send a message to customers that investing time, energy, and any amount of money in Forecaster is not worth it. Its initial purpose was to be used as the budgeting part of Microsoft Dynamics in an effort to help businesses move away from spreadsheet-based systems. Leading budgeting alternatives, such as BI360, Prophix and more, have made major improvements in saving time in planning processes for your manufacturing purposes.
Prophix helps manufacturing companies monitor their operations and plan for growth. Prophix helps users with consolidated disparate manufacturing data housed in ERP systems. Users can simply create profitability forecasts across different products, customer segments, manufacturing components, and locations, and produce detailed plans based on multiple cost drivers. Prophix assists companies in the manufacturing industry to create forecasts from macro levels all the way down to highly detailed levels, capturing items such as individual component costs, bill of materials and more.
However, a comprehensive suite of BI tools means that users are investing in an organic ease of use due to relying on just one group of sales, consulting, and support professionals who can assist with all of the users’ analytical tools for Sage 100. Solver’s BI360 is a modern Excel add-in, but it also offers hybridity in the form of Web budgeting. With this flexibility, users can simply and securely collaborate, whether in Excel or the Web. Because Excel is powering both the add-in and the web-based interface, deployment and training are much more achievable for business end users.
Lastly, two classic names in the budgeting software marketplace include Oracle’s Hyperion and IBM’s Cognos TM1. Both enterprise planning software platforms have a large following. Their presence offers power and but also involves technical complexity, so they usually require several internal resources allocated just for management of models. Some have Excel built-in tools as well as web front end functionality for larger manufacturing businesses or those that don’t prefer Excel-powered software, but for everyone else, these solutions will require you to learn proprietary formulas, as well as online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes. Although these products are expensive and older technologies, they are not as fully integrated as marketed due to acquisitions from multiple vendors over time, both products are part of wide-reaching Business Intelligence (BI) suites.
In terms of budgeting, you should invest in a tool that will help develop your planning tasks for dynamic manufacturing analytics. As mentioned before in the Budgeting for Manufacturing & Distribution with Sage X3 article, modules that focus heavily on payroll, capex, projects, inventory, expenses, and manufacturing are what you can look into as a Sage 100 user. A payroll module helps in organizing and planning with union/non-union pay scales and shift differentials. A capex module enables users to plan and oversee the expenses they anticipate incurring for equipment purchases and maintenance. A project module focuses on design and production for a new product or product build. An inventory manufacturing module provides demand production planning with focus on cost, pricing and quantity. An expenses module will enable users to order their projections for general and departmental expenses. Lastly, Sage 100 offers manufacturing modules that give users the ability to create multi-level controls and with modern budgeting and reporting add-ons they can produce accurate, detailed budgets and reports. When goods are complete, they can be complete to Inventory Management or Sales order for seamless integration with the distribution system. Manufactured component items can be finished to other work orders during the manufacturing process. Get accurate and thorough tracking and reporting throughout the entire manufacturing process and tight integration to budgets.
There may be a lot to consider, but I hope this article gives you a better direction in finding a solution that is easy-to-use, collaborative, secure and overall effective. Solver would be happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use Planning solution for collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities for manufacturing organizations using Sage 100.
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.