If you have surveyed an audience of mid-market accounting and finance professionals, you almost always find that 90-95% primarily rely on manual budget models in Excel. How is this possible when most enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, including Sage Intacct, have native ERP budget functionality? In some cases, they also have specialized add-on modules. For example, the Microsoft Dynamics on-premise ERPs had the now “retired” Forecaster product and for Sage, it is Sage Budgeting and Planning. Other ERP systems have built various Excel export and import mechanisms to make it easier for users to budget in Excel. Then, re-import the GL portion of the budget.
While most ERP vendor’s budget add-ons do the job better then entering budgets directly into the ERP system, there still seems to be a large group of companies that simply need a full-featured budgeting and forecasting solution to get the workflow, formula and layout flexibility they need. These solutions are typically referred to as Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools. They also include a reporting and consolidation functionality.
How do I know if my planning process is NOT streamlined?
Typically, there are a number of key motivators when an organization begins to look for a CPM solution to improve its planning process:
- Effort spent exporting and importing data from Sage Intacct to home grown Excel budgets
- Current process is error-prone and a resource strain on the finance team
- Lack of time and resources to quickly re-forecast (for example if a virus hits the economy!)
- Lack of automation to create many budget versions
- Current tool too complex for staff to learn so ended up back with a manual Excel model
- Find that the ROI of automation with a CPM tool is higher than the cost of manual processes
Which benefits should I expect from modern CPM Planning tool?
Because Sage Intacct is a cloud-based ERP system, pretty much all customers looking for a full featured CPM solution like Solver, Adaptive Insight or Anaplan, will also expect a high degree of functionality, including:
- Cloud-based platform
- Pre-integration to Sage Intacct and Sage Intacct approval as a certified add-on vendor
- Complete workflow functionality to manage submissions, reviews and approvals of the budget
- Highly flexibly budget form design to completely replace the company’s manual Excel models
- Strong native report writer for variance reporting and budget consolidations
- User administration and security that allow for any person to participate in the budget regardless if they are users of Sage Intacct or not
- Usability features like spreading, break-back, lien items with comments, and more.
I am planning to implement Sage Intacct. What is the best timing for budgeting tool?
Accounting teams always have a lot on their plate. Therefore, it never seems to be a great time to implement another software. However, the best time seems to be in the 2-3 months after the most recent budget cycle. Not only will issues and needs be fresh in mind, but it also allows for plenty of time to select, implement and test a new planning solution before the next budget cycle starts. Some organizations even do a “dry run” of their new budget solution during the year for one of their forecasts.
Carefully selecting a CPM vendor is important
Turbulent Mergers & Acquisition (M&A) market
For example, when a vendor gets acquired, it usually ends less than good for customers. The most typical reason that issues arise is that acquiring companies are much larger than the target company. Therefore, politics and other internal priorities at the parent company tend to drive employees away, disturb the focus of product development, increase prices and more.
Eventually, many acquired products die slowly, and customers end up switching products and vendors. Comshare, Adaytum, SRC Software and Clarity are a few vendors that suffered this during the M&A spree that took place in the CPM space about 15-20 years ago. Over the past 3 years, another wave of M&A has happened, including Workday acquiring Adaptive Insight, a PE firm acquiring Host Analytics from its old investor, Wolters Kluwer acquired Tagetik, and PE-owned Insight Software acquiring Jet Global, Atlas, BizNet and other players in the game.
Protecting the significant financial investment
There are more CPM solutions that are cloud-based. Customers can sign up for one or more years of subscription versus having to purchase the software upfront. However, even if a subscription is reasonable, the amount of time and effort from the internal staff (often with the help of costly consultants) has to be put in to get a CPM solution fully up and running. Also the reports, budget model and dashboards that management need are very significant. You can expect anywhere from twenty thousand dollars and to several hundred and thousands of dollars in direct and indirect costs for full blown implementations. In other words, picking the right vendor and the right product carries a much larger costs than simply a year’s worth of subscription.
Protecting your job
While a good vendor selection and successful implementation can be a significant boon to the careers of project management, it can be the opposite if it all does not work out well. Let alone the stress and long hours that often come from enterprise software implementations, should it not end well, can be a scar that follows you for a long time in your career.
What is the Effort to Implement Budgeting and Forecasting for Sage Intacct?
Most Sage Intacct customers want their connected apps, including CPM tools and dashboards, to be cloud based. Key questions that quickly come up are: how hard is it to integrate to the ERP and how much cost and effort does it take to get up and running?
The answer typically is weeks or months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in services. However, Sage Intacct software partners, like Solver, that work very closely with Sage Intacct and its partner channel, have developed pre-built integrations as well as out-of-the-box financial reports, planning input templates and Power BI dashboards. For example, Solver’s QuickStart integration to Sage Intacct can get a company up and running in a single day with 100+ pre-built budget input templates, reports and Power BI financial dashboards. All of these ready-to-use templates can be selected and downloaded at no additional cost from a continuously growing Template Marketplace.
Whether there is too much pain from spreadsheet budgeting or a tactical hint for competitive advantages with faster and better decision-making that drives your search for a CPM solution, a final piece of advice is to be strategic about it. Don’t look at a CPM solution as a temporary band-aid, but view this technology for what it can be when properly chosen and implemented with care. One of your most important decision-making tools that can help drive growth and success for your organization in the 2020s.
This article will focus on your options for modern financial budgeting solutions for your Sage Intacct ERP solution.
Choosing the right budgeting solution for your industry that integrates smoothly with your Sage Intacct enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can be challenging, but you have powerful options, and it will give you more knowledge about budgeting solutions for your company. In this article, we will explore Cloud-based budgeting and some of those solutions for Sage Intacct. Read more
This article will discuss your options for modern financial reporting solutions with Intacct.
Financial reporting is the cornerstone of corporate performance management (CPM) tools, as the process does the work of summing up the financial health of your company. Today’s business world relies on financial reporting and related KPIs in a major, indispensable way. As it is a requisite aspect of running a business, automation of reporting processes and streamlining the content only makes sense. As you seek to understand the data that you pull from cloud and on-premise technologies, reporting is becoming more crucial, even just as a way to consolidate information. This article will zoom in on second generation cloud reporting tools and how the right one can benefit your data management and analysis tasks from your Sage Intacct ERP system.
Independent software vendor (ISV) tools expand and streamline data management and analytics for Sage Intacct users needing best-of-breed Business Intelligence (BI) solutions.
One question that sometimes comes up in conversations with Sage Intacct customers is related to confusion as to why you might need to deploy ISV tool(s) on top of the accounting system. This is a small hurdle for ISVs as the confusion seems to quickly dissipate for the Sage Intacct community. First of all, no software solution, even as great as Sage Intacct has proven to be, can answer to every single business-related analytical hurdle for every company. A perfect example would be Apple offering their own native Map applications on their iPhones, but still allowing consumers to install the Google Maps app, just as any modern flexible enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, like Sage Intacct, does.
Because every organization who utilizes Sage Intacct has particular objectives, specific planning needs and rules, the accounting system will differ in how sufficient of a solution it is for each corporation. ISVs provide businesses the capability to customize their data management and analytics.