Hanna Kim
How to Prepare for an Enterprise Resource Planning Software Implementation

This article focuses on the process of preparing for a software implementation. 

 

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Vanessa Sierra
How to get the Most out of Power BI

This article discusses how you can combine the strengths of leading business intelligence and corporate performance management solutions to create easy-to-use, business dashboards and operational reports.  

 

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Hanna Kim
Your Guide to Finding the Best CPM Solution for Your Company

This article covers the top things to consider when buying a CPM tool.

 

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Hanna Kim
Top Benefits of Forecasting with a CPM Software

This article will describe the importance of forecasting with the best corporate performance management software and how it differs from budgeting.

Why is forecasting a good practice for all organizations? Here are five reasons:

  1. A forecast is usually a much quicker process and involves fewer employees.
  2. A forecast is entered at the general ledger account level while detailed templates, such as personnel templates, are not used.
  3. A budget is a company’s intention for the coming year, while a forecast is the most up-to-date expectation of what will happen over the remaining months of the year.
  4. The budget is finalized prior to the start of the year while a forecast can be created monthly or quarterly once the year has started and actual data can be reviewed.
  5. Many organizations create multi-year forecasts while budgets are only for the coming year.

While the budget is created one to two months before the year starts, the bulk of it is created up to fourteen months prior to the start of the month. For example, the budget is finalized in November for a company based on a calendar fiscal year, which is a year prior until the next November happens. Meanwhile, a lot can change in the various aspects of an organization regarding economy, industry, products, competitors, employees, and leadership. A forecast can more accurately influence decision-making.

 

Companies can impact their bottom line by forecasting on a regular basis.

An organization will be much more agile by forecasting monthly, as it can affect the following decisions:

  • Expense reduction and tightening up the authority to spend money.
  • Employee raises, new hires, and terminations.
  • Capital expenditures reductions or increases.
  • Strategic planning and modifying initiatives.

A forecast should include the current year actual data for the closed months. It should also allow the departmental managers to modify the amounts for the remaining months. Additionally, copying the budget data to the forecast will allow managers to concentrate solely on changes in the forecast. You can show the prior year actual data as well.

 

Templates

Another example is a rolling forecast. This template exists for organizations that do not create a budget but they forecast monthly. In a five-year forecast template, it is recommended to plan the first two years quarterly and the last three years annually.

One other option for a monthly forecast is to enter an expected annual amount by each account. Create a calculation that subtracts the annual amount entered from the actual year-to-date data. Then allocate the remaining amount based on historical actual data.

Finally, we recommend using the Breakback template. This template allows a manager to enter a few amounts to create the forecast in October, November, and December:

  • The desired net Income of $600,000. This is the main driver of the Breakback template, and the only input that is mandatory.
  • Increase all administration expenses by 3%. All of the departments are available for a global increase or decrease across all accounts.
  • Increase administration full-time salaries by 6%. All of the accounts are available for a global increase or decrease across all accounts.

Variance Analysis

The calculation of a variance is the difference between the actual expenses and the budget, the actual expenses and the prior-year expenses, or the actual expenses and the forecast. To calculate revenue data, subtract the budget from actual expenses. To calculate expenses, simply do the opposite. The reason for this is that a positive variance is typically good while a negative variance is typically bad.

The first step is to calculate and analyze variances. Then allow departmental managers to enter comments to document the reasons for the variances.

Variance reports can have comparison reports against the budget for both month-to-date and year-to-date data. Envision a middle section that allows for comments or a conditional format for a quick highlighting variances for review. Variance reports can also be an exception report that allows the manager to filter out variances over or under a specific percentage.

There are several ways of showing variances, but how management will create actionable items to prevent or correct the issues remains essential. Variance analyses  help highlight trends, opportunities and challenges. Variances should be a precursor to a re-forecast. This can significantly affect hiring decisions, marketing spending, and strategy changes.

Best-practice Recommendations on Variance Reporting and Analysis Processes 

 

  • Provide variance reports to each department manager.
  • The finance department should meet with each department manager to review the variances and discuss any concerns and successes.
  • Build an input form that stores comments for all departmental material variances.
  • Concentrate on the larger variances and discuss with the executive management of the company.
  • Make changes to the strategy and initiatives of the organization if needed.
  • Continually re-forecast and make decisions regarding the forecast.
  • Create a forecast then the variance reports should be off of the forecast first and the budget second.
  • Document the action items and review them at the start of the next meeting.

Companies utilize forecasting to resolve budget allocation or to plan for anticipated expenses for the upcoming year. Take the time to forecast. Use the tips mentioned above to help achieve those organizational goals without wasting any time. Learn more from Enabling World-Class Decisionsthe executive’s guide to understanding and deploying modern corporate performance management tools.

If you need assistance in finding a corporate performance management solution or a forecasting tool, Solver has a team of experienced professional that can get your organization starting in building the right template for you.

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.

Hanna Kim
The Benefits of Budgeting with Budget Templates Part 2

This article focuses on part two of the importance of budget templates series.

Budgeting

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Hanna Kim
The Benefits of Budgeting with Budget Templates Part 1

This article focuses on the importance of budgeting with a corporate performance management solution.

budgeting

Budgeting is a topic that is not very popular in many organizations. It can be an extremely time-consuming project for many employees. This is why it is important to communicate the significance of a budget to all employees so they take pride and ownership of it. Don’t make complex templates as the goal in estimating for the coming year. If employees can’t have small variances, then they will make decisions that only impact their results against the budget and not what is in the best long-term interest of the organization.

Your budget should should be an approximate estimate of how the company will do in the coming year. Provide information on how investment money can be spent. This is based on the strategies and initiatives of the company. The goal should not be to budget down to each dollar.

For example, one company budgeted down to an employee cost of $6.52 per month per employee. The company was asked whether the cost could be estimated as a total for each department, but they claimed they needed it down to the dollar. However, budgeting at the department level and allowing a five percent variance would have had no impact on the decisions that the company made. Another important item to ask yourself is “what is an acceptable variance for an organization?” For instance, if there is a five percent variance in the revenue, then would this impact the decisions that the company will make in the coming year?

 

Personnel Budgeting Template

 

Personnel budgeting has an immense impact for organizations due to the high proportion of costs of an organization. A personnel budgeting template has similarities across all companies. There are many variables to consider, such as the type of raise, how many raises, overtime, bonuses, commissions, taxes, benefits, and IT costs to name a few. It is also important to know whether to budget by employee or by position.

Budgeting by position enables an organization to ignore employee names, terminations, and having to hire employees to replace a terminated employee. It also allows budgeting by multiple employees. As an example, a template can allow a manager to input how many accountants should be employed, what the average salary is, and what the average raise would be. If a company is budgeting by employees then each accountant should be listed. The employee’s exact salary, his/her expected raise, and all other information specific to each employee should be included as well. Budgeting by employee will be more accurate if there is little employee turnover, but it also requires more work.

Other items to keep in mind with personnel is how to allocate monthly salary, which impacts tax and benefit calculations. Allocate salary evenly by work days, by calendar days, and by pay periods. There are other ways as well. Another item to consider is separating out full-time and part-time employees, as there may be differences in the benefits that are allocated to part-time employees, such as overtime and 401k. These are all calculations that must be built into the payroll form.

 

Assumptions Template

 

A great first step is creating an assumptions template, which allows an administrator to enter data. This will impact the calculations of many templates, and it does not have to be hard-coded into the templates themselves. This data will flow from the form into all other templates. An assumptions template should include payroll tax rates, a worker’s compensation rate, and a benefit rate. The number of days in each month also matter.

The data from the assumption form will then flow into the payroll form.

There may also be a need to allocate an employee across multiple departments. In this case, there are two options: 1) Budget every employee to a “dummy” department and then allocate the salaries, taxes, and benefits in new template. 2) Upload the employee information into each department and enter the number of hours allocated to each department. This ensures there is an administrator report that checks to verify that an employee does not exceed 2,080 hours a year.

Many companies use another template called the capital expenditures template. This particular template allows users to enter capital expenditures that are projected into the coming year. This also calculates depreciation, typically on a straight-line basis. The asset type is typically chosen because each asset type has a specific life. A capital expenditures template should include asset type, department, purchase description, purchase month, purchase price, and quantity. The capital expenditures and the monthly depreciation are summarized at the bottom of the template.

More information

If you would like to get a better understanding of the budgeting templates above, you can download the free ebook here. Beyond using the right templates, it is important to have the right team and infrastructure in place to implement a successful budgeting strategy. Take the time on the front end to set budgeting goals that line up with your overarching organizational goals.

We also recommend to ask for help! By asking for help within the right channels, you can ensure the right sounding board that can guide you through the process with minimal time wasted and designed for maximum efficiency. At Solver, we have a team of experience professionals that have taken on countless projects like this one. Between the power of BI360 and their expertise, you have all you need to set yourself up for success.

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.

Hanna Kim
How to Build a Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Solution

This article discusses corporate performance management (CPM) tools and examples of effective strategy, goals, planning, and analysis. 

 

budgeting, reporting, data warehouse, power bi, dashboards

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Hanna Kim
Tips to Improve Your Organization’s Internal Processes with CPM Software

This article focuses on the importance of process improvements and KPIs.

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Karen Barak
BI360 User Conference – Look Out Surf City USA, Here We Come!

What to Expect Plus Tips to Help You Take Advantage of All Focus 2018 Has to Offer

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Hanna Kim
How to Align Your Business Strategy with Your Reporting, Planning and Analysis: Part 2

This article will continue the discussion of improving these tasks and processes and ensuring that the strategy is aligned with the reporting, planning, and analysis.

 

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