Beyond spreadsheets: modern solutions for better planning

Beyond spreadsheets: modern solutions for better planning

Although effective and widely used, basic spreadsheets lack the advanced capabilities needed to react quickly and effectively, limiting even the most high-performing teams. Disconnected spreadsheets, manual tasks, a lack of insights and limited collaboration options are only a few of the issues teams face every day. A centralized, automated solution offering real-time insights and cross-organizational collaboration can instead help you bring your business planning to the next level.

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Data collection and data integrity issues when relying on spreadsheets

Every spreadsheet starts with entering data, often derived from disparate systems such as those pertaining to finance, sales, human resources, marketing, and operations. This data also needs to be constantly updated which is an incredibly time-consuming process, especially given that executive teams rely on those data sources to provide actionable insights to mitigate risk and uncover critical opportunities.

Once all relevant data is entered in the right section of the spreadsheet, the model needs to be validated, formulas need to be checked, but no matter how careful, the numbers are not always correct: the sum formula might have not included the full range, or the VLOOKUP function might be miswritten, thus returning a wrong result. Just one manual oversight can create a repetitive error affecting multiple spreadsheets.

The unsatisfied need of managing workflows and sensitive data

As spreadsheets cannot manage workflows or provide process control when data is copied and shared multiple times, planning often requires a top-down approach to setting targets and a bottom-up approach for data collection. These processes are often carried out by a mixed pool of people such as business area directors, country managers, different cost centres, further complicating the overall scenario. As a result, users typically start with an empty spreadsheet, then input their data, submit it, and obtain approval or rejection, all while meeting very specific standards. Spreadsheets are not built to manage those workflows, and additionally, it is impossible to pre-populate targets, meaning users must start their planning from scratch each time.

Another challenge posed by Excel is sensitive data protection: spreadsheets used for planning and reporting often contain confidential and sensitive information and pose critical compliance risks if they are shared more broadly during the planning process.

Data sharing and reporting: the limited capabilities of traditional systems

Common applications used to create management reports, such as spreadsheets and presentation tools, have limited capabilities for deep data analysis, executive report creation and dynamic reporting. The data volume is either too massive to share, or can only be shared in small segments, which means executive teams cannot see the bigger picture, limiting visibility and their ability to dig deep into the data.

In addition, spreadsheets struggle to be a multidimensional tool, forcing users to work with single department reports rather than templates. Furthermore, making changes to a single template means updating dozens of spreadsheets individually – increasing the risk of mistakes or oversights.

Scenario planning limitations using spreadsheets

Scenario planning is an essential step in the budget approval process. However, with spreadsheets acting as both a database and a calculation engine, creating comparisons between different assumptions and scenarios requires an enormous amount of time, preparation, and manipulation. Simulating just one scenario can often require duplicating dozens of spreadsheets.

These spreadsheets are then manually shared with other teams across the organization, inevitably leading to version control and collaboration challenges. With several versions of the same document and different insights and feedback within each working draft in circulation, having a single final document to present to executive management is next to impossible.

Fincons & Jedox: together to improve financial planning and budgeting

In the era of automation and AI, planning and performance management technology is evolving and becoming agile and interactive, really making the difference between quickly identifying risks and opportunities and falling behind. 

That is why Fincons Group, aware of the challenges financial and business teams face every day, decided to partner with Jedox which offers an innovative planning and performance management platform. 

By combining Jedox’s platform and Fincons’ delivery services and understanding of budget processes, businesses can improve their planning and performance management capabilities following four pillars:

  1. Adaptability: model and adjust plans in a unique environment
  2. Integration: build informative and holistic plans
  3. Simplicity: reduce cycles and improve data quality
  4. Transparency: add approved workflows and enable data auditing 

Companies can count on Jedox and Fincons reliable support to quickly design, develop and run holistic financial and business plans, customized based on their specific needs, by using a single, easy to use platform that retains the familiar look-and-feel of Excel and  enables: data integration from any source, data validation, access to actionable insights with AI, smart collaboration with real-time data, automated workflows and approvals, custom user access and permission, accessible dashboards and increased efficiency. The Jedox Markeplace also offers customizable templates for different planning models, helping speed up implementation timeframes.

A truly game-changing approach made possible by an experienced system integrator such as Fincons Group. Implementing these best of breed solutions has never been easier.
 

Alessandro Valerio
Fincons Group
Senior Manager – Financial Services & Insurance
https://www.linkedin.com/in/alessandrovalerio82/