Better Budgeting, Better Planning … Better Insight

With 2013 just around the corner, there are a lot of companies engaging in the ever-important budgeting and planning process. Although this annual exercise can be a chore, leveraging the right set of tools along with proper planning will not only make the process easier, but can also provide better insight into your business performance. Here are a few things to consider as you prepare for another budget and planning season.

Shift Your Focus

For many companies, planning is a tedious exercise conducted solely for the purpose of financial control and allocating limited resources. But with the right set of tools and a shift of focus, you can turn the process into an opportunity to evaluate that results from the previous year differed from the plan and garner better insight to the factors that caused the deviations. As such, you'll gain better insight from last year's outcome, more clearly evaluate this year's results, and modify next year’s plan to improve overall business performance.

Access to Information

The key to better insight is quick and easy access to the right information. Budgeting software, like Sage Budgeting and Planning for Sage 300 ERP (formerly "Accpac"), can automate time-consuming and repetitive budgeting tasks while simplifying the process of capturing information from managers and other personnel that contribute to the process. By contrast, the traditional "spreadsheet approach" to budgeting makes it far more difficult to manage the process of collecting data, sharing information across departments, and preventing access to sensitive records.

Another problem with spreadsheets is that multiple budget scenarios are scattered on various hard drives, laptops or databases. Because of this complexity, companies may be tempted to simplify the process by limiting the level of involvement, collaboration and detail which in turn limits effective decision-making.

On the other hand, Sage Budgeting and Planning makes it easy to collect data, stores the information in a central database, easily creates multiple scenarios for side by side analysis and allows you to evaluate various versions of a budget plan that provide a high degree of underlying detailed support. This makes it simple to establish detailed plans as well as store, retrieve, and organize information quickly. And because information is easily accessible, the planning and review process is much more productive and efficient.

Evaluating "The Numbers"

Insight in the planning cycle often comes from evaluating the numbers, comparing actual versus budget and identifying discrepancies as well as spotting key trends. Top executives and managers must be able to look at the numbers and easily evaluate whether a specific program or expense is justified or not.

With the right software, you can accomplish this objective in a timely fashion and with less effort than you would with multiple, disconnected spreadsheets. Sage Budgeting and Planning for Sage 300 makes it easy to drill down from a higher level to more detailed numbers so you can analyze trends and make more timely decisions. After all, the purpose of gathering and evaluating information is not simply to have a large volume of data to work with but instead to provide the right information and detail, when necessary, to make better decisions.

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