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In this article, we discuss how business Intelligence (BI) tools have helped not-for-profit organizations focus more on their mission and less on budgeting and reporting.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and we thought it would be appropriate to dedicate this article to not-for-profit organizations – organizations with the purpose of something other than making a profit and often focused on furthering a particular social cause – and focus on how business intelligence (BI) tools have made the jobs in their industry easier. In this article, we are going to zoom in on the tools that not-for-profit organizations have expressed they are thankful for, and hopefully, this will give you an idea of what modern BI tools can do for your not-for-profit organization.
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This article focuses on finding an improved solution for a bad software implementation.

Photo taken from Pixabay.

Photo taken from Pixabay.

We all wish for a successful software implementation, but information system projects frequently fall short or even fail. Many software implementations can be challenging, and only a few companies today achieve highly successful software implementations on their first try. Usually, the reason for failure or a bad budget implementation has little to do with the actual software itself. In this article, we will explore the seventh installment of our budget series: how to fix a bad budget software implementation.
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This article will focus on the process of preparing for a successful software implementation.

Congratulations! You’ve finally made the first step in investing in a budgeting software. This is huge. Budgeting solutions will make a world of difference in streamlining painful, manual processes and will also often improve decision-making capabilities. Whether you are about to buy a tool or you just purchased one, you are on the verge of a software implementation. Many software implementations can be challenging, and only a few companies today achieve successful software implementations on the first try. In this article, we will explore the sixth installment of our budgeting series: how to prepare for your first budget software implementation.
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This article focuses on budgeting software, specifically zooming in on the automatic spreading functionality.

Budgeting with Automatic Spreading
Budgeting software is one of the most fundamental and critical tools for managing your money. Think about all of the time and energy your company allocates to budgeting. I think about my recent car investment and all of the costs that come with it, including car insurance. I feel extremely overwhelmed just thinking about it, but knowing that there is a simple solution to budgeting calms my anxiety. Do you feel overwhelmed at work? You may feel like this if you are punching in your budget data manually. If you are working toward a financial goal or you are working with limited money, finding an easy way to budget will benefit you at both a personal and organizational level. In this article, we will be covering the first topic of our budgeting series where I will be focusing on an important budgeting need that a budgeting software can solve with corresponding features such as automatic spreading.
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This article focuses on financial reporting and roll-up solutions for not-for-profit organizations utilizing Microsoft Dynamics GP.

NFP Fin Cons GP
Financial reporting and consolidations can mean different things to different people. Many larger Microsoft Dynamics GP not-for-profit customers are managing the finances of a parent organization with multiple locations rolling up to it. First things first, let’s define financial roll-ups or ‘consolidations’ as it is typically called in the corporate world. It can simply mean that an organization is combining data from multiple locations either as part of the planning process or for reporting purposes. It can also mean a lot more than just combining data. Financial consolidation is the process of aggregating transactional data from several departments and from multiple business entities within a company for the parent company. In these cases, simply combining data can be complex for multiple reasons. For instance, legal entities can have different charts of accounts or fiscal years. They may also be partially owned. This article will explore the elements and functionalities of financial consolidation for your non-profit organization using Microsoft Dynamics GP.
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This article will help organizations identify signs that they need a new Business Intelligence system.

Trend in Business Intelligence for H2 2015
Today, plenty of large organizations, as well as small and medium-sized companies, are stuck using old or manual Business Intelligence (BI) tools that are in desperate need of a replacement. BI translates to technology-driven processes for analyzing data and presenting information that will help companies improve the decision making processes at all levels of management. Well, how do you know if you need a new BI/Analytics system? You should begin by constructing the right set of questions. What tool(s) does your organization have to have right now? What are your BI goals, and what is your schedule for building the BI toolbox to meet analytical goals? Also, outdated BI systems show several warning signs such as wasting time, harming decision-making, and keeping organizations from taking advantage of their data.
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This article will discuss today’s best budgeting and forecasting tools for not-for-profit organizations, specifically regarding their built-in features and functionalities to expand your Microsoft Dynamics GP experience.

Budgeting is such a crucial task, no matter if you’re budgeting for yourself or on the organizational level.  Regarding not-for-profit (NFP) organizations, budgeting might be the particular reason you are still afloat, living within your means to deliver for the community.  Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with NFP budget contributors, and the common theme was that technology has historically been restrictive when trying to meet modern planning goals.  Excel might suffice for your household budget, but is challenging for any healthy organization.  If you’re reading this blog post, you’re likely shopping around for independent software vendor (ISV) budgeting software that can read your historical Microsoft Dynamics GP figures and/or perhaps data from additional sources, like payroll from ADP or Ceridian, to streamline and improve your planning process.  Today’s planning solutions deliver secure collaboration functionality for planning tasks, which makes the inherent teamwork easier, so that your organization can be successful in living within their means.
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This article discusses modern budgeting and forecasting solutions for non-profit organizations, zooming in on premier feature and functionality offerings to expand your Intacct experience.

Budgeting is such an important process, regardless of whether you’re doing financial planning in your personal life or full-scale organizational budgets and forecasts.  For non-profit organizations, budgeting can be the exact reason you are able to live within your means, surviving to continue providing what the community needs.  When recently speaking to non-profit budgeting contributors, I discovered that one of the biggest hurdles is the technology they are using to respond to today’s complex planning demands.  Excel might be perfect for a household budget, but performs subpar for any organization of a healthy size.  If you’re reading this article, you’re probably looking at independent software vendor (ISV) budgeting tools that can bring together your historical Intacct actuals and/or maybe information from another system, like payroll from ADP, to simplify and upgrade your planning processes.  Modern planning software delivers secure collaboration for your budgeting and forecasting tasks, which streamlines the requisite teamwork, so that you can successfully live within your organization’s means.
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In this article, I’ll explore what-if analytics and modeling functionality built into some of today’s budgeting software for planning that accounts for variables with Microsoft Dynamics.

Budgeting is a task that requires actual data, research, goal setting, and teamwork, and depending on your planning process, a lot can happen to change the course of your budget.  Thus, I would argue that besides historical actuals, there are enough variables in the context of financial planning for your company that makes budgeting a challenging task at times.

If you like to see some options and dynamically approach planning by being adaptable and exploratory with different outcomes, what-if analyses and modeling will allow you to do just that.  In this article, we’ll explore what-if planning and modeling functionality that comes with some modern budgeting tools for Microsoft Dynamics customers.

What is What-If Analysis? 

Basically, a what-if analysis boils down to the business end user altering the values in the cells of your budget spreadsheet to illustrate how certain changes can impact the results of your formulas.  Because a lot of companies are using Excel for budgeting, including Excel add-in planning software, we’ll talk in Excel terminology.  

For example, one term we will use is “scenario,” which is a set of values for your multiple what if analysis in excel. Users can design and save multiple sets of values on a worksheet and then substitute these scenarios into the financial plan to see the difference in outcomes. 

Another example would be if you would like to budget for your most ambitious goal setting, something in the middle, and the worst case scenario.  You can put together these three scenarios on the same spreadsheet and then, easily switch between them to see what thresholds you would need to cross to reach the results you established in your scenarios.

As we all know, budgeting is rarely a one-person responsibility, so people across the organization have to bring together actual figures and projections for the next period to set a financial plan.  If you have multiple people offering particular data in disparate spreadsheets that you’d like to utilize for scenarios, you can gather these workbooks and integrate their scenarios.  Some of the more modern solutions allow you to distribute password protected access rights, so that can smooth out collaboration and privacy concerns.  

Once you have configured and assembled all of the scenarios that you want, you can produce a summary statement that includes data from these scenarios.  This report showcases all of the scenario data in one table on a new spreadsheet.

Another Excel term that has to do with what-if analysis dashboards is a data table.  Data tables only work with one or two variables, but can include many different values for these variables. 

If you are employing a formula that has one or two variables – or even several formulas that all utilize the same variable, you can employ a data table to view all of the results in one space. 

In terms of business user friendliness, data tables are easy to understand and share because you are zooming in on only one or two variables.  While data tables are limited to just two variables, a data table can use as many different variable values as you need whereas scenarios cap out at 32 different values.  Additionally, if automated recalculation is set up for the workbook, the information in your data table recalculates automatically for fresh, real-time data.

How to Prepare for the Worst Case Scenario with What-If Analyses

What-if scenarios do have their potential drawbacks.  Because their purpose is to determine the risk and probability associated with the marketplace, evaluating past performance and projections for the future, there is a chance that the worst case scenario can happen because of the way the variables roll out in the business world.  

The worst case scenario can more or less occur even though a what-if analysis establishes that outcome as an outlier – and can you tolerate that result?  One way to be more prepared and aware of the variety of results is to do a random factor analysis, running thousands of independent trials with your software to randomly assign values to your factors. You may be wondering how to do a factor analysis in excel? The most prevalent kind of random factor analysis is called a Monte Carlo analysis, which randomly assigns factor values from a data set configured for the variable’s specific probability distribution.

Historical actuals help decision-makers understand past performance with straightforward simplicity, but revenue and expenses from last year have no influence on future performance, risk or return.  Therefore, what-if analyses can model multiple ways that your future can play out, so you can prepare to meet your own informed goals, objectives, and plans for the year.  Luckily, Microsoft Dynamics customers have a lot of options in terms of planning software.

What-if analyses and modeling are just pieces of the pie in regard to budgeting – and now couldn’t be a better time to start considering a modern, powerful budgeting tool.  While most companies are relying on homegrown processes in Excel or Microsoft’s mature budgeting offering, Forecaster, independent software vendor (ISV) products are becoming more prevalent in finance departments around the world.  Simply, this is due to the consumer-driven features and functionalities in third party offerings that provide an easy-to-use, secure, and collaborative planning for business end users.   You should consider several things, so you can pick the right solution for your planning needs.

When looking at third party software for what-if analysis dashboards, you’ll want to choose the best platform for your team. To make the best decision first evaluate the following: 

  • How secure the program is for powerful collaboration
  • Ability to fully integrate the software 
  • Comprehensive suite of BI tools
  • User friendliness of the product for your colleagues to utilize

You will also want to make sure that the tool comes with important functionality, like what-if analytics, modeling, multiple year budgets and rolling forecasts, etc.  You have a lot to consider, but budgeting as a corporate task is worth your time, money, and energy to find the premier software that can take your planning processes to the next level.  

Contact Solver for What-If Analysis Resources 

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, like what-if analyses and modeling, with Microsoft Dynamics.