This article will discuss budgeting solutions for Professional Sports Teams using Microsoft Dynamics GP, with a focus on feature and functionality offerings for planning processes.

Budgeting might be one of the more logistically complicated organizational processes, probably due to the tedium of manual Excel budgeting for budget managers.  Excel might be the international go-to software for finance departments, but the spreadsheet program typically can’t handle planning for organizations of a healthy size, like professional sports teams.  More Microsoft Dynamics GP customers are choosing independent software vendor (ISV) budgeting tools for expanding and updating their planning processes.  Some of today’s third party software streamlines budgeting and forecasting by zooming in on secure teamwork.  Planning processes typically require collaboration in the important effort to live within our (organizational) means, with help from historical actuals and projections from all areas of the company.

Financial planning typically requires multiple professionals coming together with departmental actuals and research-driven projections to craft a budget.  Excel is nearly ubiquitous in the finance realm despite the frustration of logistics and security issues when you collaborate with all areas of a company, especially one as diversified and large as a professional sports team.  Most organizations still work within Excel or rely on Microsoft Forecaster, so an ISV tool might seem like an expense you could avoid.  In this article, we’ll discuss the impact of modern ISV budgeting tools, so your professional sports team can build modern planning processes with Microsoft Dynamics GP.

Investing in a budgeting tool has become more prevalent recently because of the value of accessibility that is a response to consumer demands for budget contributor ownership – and the ability for a manager to accomplish more through collaborative planning for a project, a department, or the whole company.  Additionally, some planning tools are database-driven Excel add-ins, meaning you can enjoy the familiarity in formulas and features, enhanced with a toolbar ribbon, eliminating manually linking together spreadsheets for a complete budget.  The best ISV planning tools also come equipped with accounting logic, so the solution is easy-to-use in terms of automation and templates you can reuse.

Modern third party budgeting solutions are answering consumer demands for sensible, secure logistics to expand the teamwork aspect of planning.  Budget managers are able to give department supervisors ownership over budgets they have to meet through the year, without lengthy e-mail threads, hefty attachments, or tedious spreadsheet linking – all thanks to security and streamlining.  From there, a budget manager can compile a comprehensive budget that is a result of true, smart collaboration.  Despite sounding too good to be true, it isn’t – and the potential return on your investment is easily measured in money, time, and energy.  When shopping for a planning software to upgrade your Dynamics GP experience, do the work of weighing Excel versus proprietary interfaces, budgeting capabilities, integration methods, a complete suite of BI tools, and web budgeting for your professional sports team needs.

Due to the prevalence of Excel in finance and budgeting departments, Excel add-ins are heavy hitters since they take the program we know so well and expand the functionality, so you can easily craft dynamic, reusable budget templates within the window thanks to the ability to securely collaborate.  There are some ISVs that assert that Excel is logistically messy, mostly since they have brought their own proprietary product to market.  A platform that is non-Excel will probably translate to longer training because of the brand new set of formatting and coding you will be learning to design a budget.  You’ll have to invest in training regardless, but an Excel add-in software will shorten the learning curve, even with a bunch of Microsoft Dynamics GP users to train.  In terms of deciding to invest in a product, the cost of training might not be a big consideration, but you should also be considering budgeting capabilities and data integration routes.

No budgeting solution is going to address every business problem you encounter, but certain capabilities are fundamental in terms of modern planning tools.  Nowadays, budgeting software should provide you the ability to juxtapose your historical figures with your projected numbers, distribute totals across a year, simply add more line items for accounts, perform roll-ups, convert multiple figures, view authorship, and employ parameters, like Department, Division, and Entity.  You should be able to perform what-if analyses when you are considering how the cost of goods can vary.  An example: some software enables your HR manager to plan for new staff with sub-ledger analytics, giving you the room to plan for onboarding materials and other items, training and salary, headcount number calculations and statistical reporting.  The budgeting tool should come equipped with all of these aspects for business user friendliness that eliminates the need for IT management.

This blog has covered the difference between an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube and a data warehouse integration – and the decision regarding live versus a BI data store integration.  The number one priority should be ease of use for your team of business end users that contribute to the budgeting process.  Is there someone on staff that can manage an OLAP cube?  Do you have multiple types of data that need to be consolidated into one space, like a commercial data warehouse?  If you are thinking about other analytical tasks, how does a particular budgeting tool fit into your BI roadmap?

Some budgeting software is part of a comprehensive suite of BI tools, completely integrated for a singular approach to analytics.  To truly plan for the future, you should prepare for upgrading your financial reporting, dashboards, and/or data storage by looking at BI suites.  You’re also making your life easier by working with just one team of vendor, sales, consulting, and support professionals.  You also need to consider the evolution of budgeting to include web options.

Web-based or Cloud technology is the big shift today, and budgeting has followed suit.  Web-based budgeting options offer you the same functionality, but now you can access your data and budgets anywhere with an internet connection.  Web budgeting continues to become more popular, particularly because a few options are delivering direct write-back to certain ERP systems, so do your research and decide whether this is the best fit for your professional sports team.

Speaking of professional sports analytical needs, they are typically common budgeting needs, but at times, focus on industry-specific planning.  Some are forecasting ticket sales, and some use GP data to understand past performance, so they can build a post-season budget. Solver offers an Excel- and Web-based budgeting module stand-alone and as part of the comprehensive suite of BI modules and would be happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use Planning solution for collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities with Microsoft Dynamics GP for professional sports teams.