Automating your budgeting and forecasting

A good workman always wants the best possible tool for a job. Just like you wouldn’t try to paint a wall with a thin artist’s brush, an office professional shouldn’t use a cumbersome system to make crucial calculations. So why is that happening?

Research suggests that public sector finance professionals are still reliant on generic spreadsheets for budgeting and forecasting processes, despite specialist systems being available that can help provide a real-time view on spending.

As much as 88% of public sector finance executives admit they are reliant on spreadsheets for their budgeting processes according to research from Advanced Business Solutions, with almost three quarters (74%) stating they are very reliant.

The dependence on spreadsheets is even more concerning in the context of the ongoing demand for efficiency savings. Public sector organisations are under severe pressure to do more with less, yet finance professionals waste too much time updating spreadsheet information.

Using spreadsheets is manually intensive and relies heavily on user input. The result is that as much as 42% of finance executives responding to the survey concede that it currently takes their organisation more than 45 working days to compile its annual budgets.

There has to be a better way, both in terms of workplace processes and taxpayer expenditure. Thankfully, there is in the form of dedicated budgeting, planning and forecasting tools.

Such an automated system ensures staff resources are not wasted on repetitive data entry and information checking processes. These real-time, intelligent financial processing tools decrease preparation time, increase financial control and provide more accurate data that can help improve decision-making.

Research shows just 10% of senior finance executives never use spreadsheets for formulating their organisation’s budgets and forecasts. For the remaining 90%, the confluence of severe cost constraint and high quality automation means a wake up is required.

While using spreadsheets can’t exactly be viewed as sleeping on the job, a reliance on such cumbersome tools is a way to slumber towards inefficient cost control and monitoring. Get automated and get the right tools for the job. It will be money well spent.

Dean Dickinson is Managing Director of Advanced Business Solutions, formerly COA Solutions. Dean has been in the finance software business since 1990. He was part of the senior management team at QSP/Arelon prior to the acquisition by COA Solutions at which time he became Deputy Managing Director for the business as a whole. Since the acquisition of COA Solutions by Advanced Computer Software Group in February 2010, Dean has become Managing Director for Advanced Business Solutions. He is a specialist in consultancy and has a strong knowledge of business processes within a high volume/high value environment.