For many, the budget process is a dreaded task or a necessary evil. Yet we also know an accurate budget is the backbone of a well-run organization. So, in line with our goal of adding value to the finance team, it’s with great excitement that our new dynamic budgeting software launched this week. Phocas Budgeting and Forecasting saves the finance team valuable time and makes companywide analysis and budgets easy-to-do tasks. Now your budgets can be both ambitious and realistic while being simple to adjust as your market lifts or dips.
What sets Phocas budgeting software apart?
The new software enables finance teams to build budgets in a live data analytics environment. A dynamic environment means when a budget template is set-up, you have access to all of your historical and current data. For example, when you forecast revenue per product line or division, you can click into each category and have easy access to last week, quarter or year’s figures without opening another system or consulting a different spreadsheet.
With the numbers at your fingertips, this cloud-based software allows teams to budget and forecast in the one place from anywhere. As Phocas product consultant, Dan Harrison explains, “it’s a real-time tool that’s integral to all business units.”
Dan Harrison joined the Phocas finance team, as the in-house expert on the mid-market budget process. As a chartered accountant, he knows first-hand, the intensity of the finance team's budget process and the pressure to check and cross-check all the assumptions and calculations presented in a set timeframe. At the product launch, he explained that Phocas encourages all business managers to adopt modern budgeting software, so their budgets accurately reflect actual companywide performance.
Collaboration with budgeting workflows
People outside of the finance team, such as branch managers or product managers, who contribute to the budget also find the traditional process tedious. Their input is often not reflected in the final budget, so taking part is seen as counter-productive or a waste of time.
The new Phocas Budgeting and Forecasting tool has in-built workflows and drivers to encourage greater buy-in and accountability for the numbers.
The workflows enable better co-ordination of the process. The budget owner can assign tasks to other people, that are logged and tracked. There is an audit trail for the tasks so the budget owner can see when the other person responds and the rationale for specific figures. The rationale is called a driver, these are based on actual numbers, or they can be miscellaneous (for instance they might be based on head count, where a manager can put in a cost for mobile phones for each person in the team) - the user decides in the workflow.
Data security and permissions are also integral to the budget tool which works in tandem with Phocas Financial Statements. The budget owner can control access to sensitive information like salaries and ensure different divisions only receive data relevant to their work.
We had been looking for a faster and simpler way to budget to replace Excel. The first impression with Budgeting and Forecasting during testing and working with the team at Phocas has been enlightening. We believe Phocas will help us implement the great game of business methodology within our business, getting more of our team engaged with budgeting, forecasting and understanding the secret language of business “the financials”.
Billy Hart, Group CFO, HG Group (alpha customer)
Looks like a spreadsheet but without the headaches
Finance teams are only too aware of the problems of spreadsheets in the budgeting process. On average most companies with a revenue of over $5million have 20 versions of a budget. Somewhere in this process – the earlier version is worked on by the product team and when it goes back to finance – they have to update the current version all over again. Formulas can also be copied incorrectly making accuracy a problem.
According to Ventana Research: ‘On average financial managers, waste as much as 18 hours per month manually updating, revising, consolidating, modifying and correcting spreadsheets.”
Spreadsheets remain the ubiquitous budget tool for many finance teams, so the Phocas budgeting software's design goal is to provide a familiar spreadsheet feel.
"We want people to be comfortable using the new budgeting software so it made sense to give it a similar flow of a spreadsheet with drag and copy for ease-of-use. Still, the real benefit to the user — is the removal of all limitations of spreadsheets — like version control and validations," explains Dan.
The Phocas Budgeting and Forecasting software makes budgets an ongoing asset. Budgeting is live and therefore no longer a dreaded annual event. The numbers presented are easier to understand, and the intuitive workflows save the finance team valuable time and encourage more companywide engagement in the process.
To learn more about the new budgeting and forecasting tool and how it works alongside Financial Statements, watch this on-demand webinar. It consists of a further explanation from Dan Harrison, chartered accountant and subject matter expert, a demo of the new software and comments from some of the beta customers involved in the development.