It’s almost June 30. Finance professionals across Australia are starting to prepare their budgets for next financial year.
If you’re in a similar position, I’ll bet you haven’t given much time to reviewing and improving your budget procedures. While it may seem easier to stick with your current setup, is it really fit for purpose? Are you getting the financial results or data that you need?
I recommend all organisations review their budget procedures at this time of year. After all, “proper preparation prevents poor performance”.
Here are my top five tips for optimising your budgeting and planning processes before the end of financial year.
- Focus on analysis that really matters
Budgeting gets complicated when you plan at a detailed level, with multiple inputs for several different users.
Let’s say you have ‘cost centre’, ‘department’ and ‘employee’ listed as analysis codes, for example. If you have 10 cost centres, 10 departments and 100 employees for one account, you’ll have a possible combination of 10,000 entries.
That’s a lot of data to navigate, and much of it may be unnecessary. Ask yourself: what analysis is really critical to planning? Do you really need to budget at the employee level (as in the above), or can you get away with a more high-level budget?
It is best to keep the budget as simple as possible, without compromising the data your system captures.
- Ask for input from across your organisation
The most accurate budgets aren’t developed in isolation. When it comes to budgeting and planning, it is wise to engage the people responsible for spending the cash.
This enables organisations to develop more realistic budgets and plan accordingly. It allows budget generators to provide input and gain visibility over the budgeting process. At the same time, the finance team has the data to make the budget as accurate as possible.
In a larger organisation, budgets often go through many levels of approval. Senior managers are freed from the burden of actually creating a budget, but they still need to approve the figures before the budget is finalised.
At this level, spreadsheets aren’t always effective. At best, they’re a pain. At worst, they’re unreliable. The hours taken to painstakingly create a budget can go to waste if data is not accurately collated and imported.
To prevent this, organisations may wish to consider a corporate performance management (CPM) platform such as Infor BI or BOARD. Both products provide a single point of access for processing budgets, which gives users immediate access to the latest budget information. There is no need to pull together various Excel workbooks into one central report, which guarantees accuracy and timeliness of data.
- Integrate systems for improved calculations
In some businesses, managers may know the number of hours their team members work, but not their actual salary. If they need to calculate the bottom line, they need to do the maths and input the correct figures manually.
This is time-consuming and gives managers visibility into areas that they may not need to know about, such as salaries.
Ideally, an organisation’s finance system and HR system should be integrated. By using a tool such as Board or Infor BI, you can enter the hours each team member works, and extract the hourly rate directly from your HR system. This information can then be pushed to your budget so that managers only need to see hours or work completed.
- Make reporting seamless
Budget reporting is the best way to see if your organisation is performing as expected. While this is possible using Excel, reporting spreadsheets have limitations.
For example, many of us will know how time-consuming it can be to collate multiple sheets and get the data into a reliable format. What’s more, relying on Excel data is sometimes precarious, as sheets and links are prone to error.
Instead, it’s worth considering moving to a CPM platform in which data is held, controlled and accessed from a single location. In my experience, reports generated via CPM are more accurate and easier to access than those in traditional spreadsheets.
- Control access to protect data integrity
If you’re still using Excel for budgeting, chances are you have issues with version and access control.
For example, you may find that you need to remove worksheets manually and send them to department heads for review. This is not an efficient process, particularly as it leads to even more spreadsheets flying around. It also increases the likelihood that users will be working on outdated versions.
Every organisation should also be able to control access, so that department heads can only see budget information relevant to their section. This is vital for ensuring confidentiality, security and a single source of truth for sensitive financial data.
Budgeting and planning can be complex, but that doesn’t mean associated procedures have to be complicated.
Register for our event, Streamline your budgeting and forecasting today or call to speak to us about your business’s specific requirements on 1800 126 499.
You can read more about BOARD Software here.
You can read more about Infor BI here.
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