5 ways EPM software boosts FP&A confidence

David Sun
| 11/15/2022
5 ways EPM software boosts FP&A confidence

Too often, planning and budgeting are complicated and cumbersome, with numerous departments and error-filled spreadsheets.

But planning and budgeting are essential to every department, accuracy is critical, and businesses depend on the outcome. The risks in getting it wrong are considerable, and when teams are considering current and future figures and multiple scenarios, they must get it right.

Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) is a process that should offer insight into strategic decision-making. Unfortunately, not all FP&A is created equal. In a 2022 survey, 76% of finance professionals agreed that FP&A provides strategic value – but only about 39% would describe their current forecasts as good or great.1

As uncertainties intensify in the current economic and business climate, agile and effective planning is becoming an increasingly complex, yet critical, process.

Many finance teams are using some combination of spreadsheet software and an FP&A software solution. Some are using only spreadsheets. While these tools might seem like they’re accomplishing enough, they can be time-consuming, inflexible, and unhelpful with overall strategic decision-making. FP&A teams no longer need to take on these unnecessary risks, as a number of quality software options exist in the marketplace.

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Outdated solutions no longer support modern planning and reporting needs

 

The mixture of spreadsheet software and FP&A software brings unnecessary challenges for the individuals and teams that rely on the data stored in each. For some, the challenge lies simply in lacking a single place for team members to track details and reasoning – making it impossible for others to make assumptions about future market happenings or run possible what-if scenarios.

But other challenges exist as well. Without a solution designed specifically for planning and budgeting needs, businesses face the following:

  • Lack of security
  • Inability to generate dashboards with key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Budget cycles that take too long
  • Difficulty accessing and understanding an audit trail
  • Disjointed data, which makes it challenging to consider all scenarios
  • Inability to easily reconcile data to prove accuracy
  • Reports that aren’t presentable

On top of these practical business applications, manual entry and maintenance also can slow decision-making processes and cause friction in planning and reporting processes.

5 ways cloud-based EPM software can help FP&A teams gain confidence in planning and reporting processes

Cloud-based enterprise performance management (EPM) software merges financial planning, budgeting, forecasting, scenario modeling, reporting, and analysis. And for businesses that make the transition to an EPM software solution, the finance teams typically enjoy increased collaboration, customization, and alignment on business goals. More specifically, EPM software can offer these five benefits and give finance teams the confidence to move forward.

1. Improves the security of information

Knowing that information is safe from cyberattacks or can be retrieved if something were to go wrong is sometimes all the reassurance needed to make a change. Outdated systems run the risk of attack, and manual entry methods can be mismanaged, causing issues. But with built-in security measures, organizations can rest easy using cloud-based EPM software.

2. Saves time with automated budgets and forecasts

In business, time is money, and when a process can be shortened without losing the quality or accuracy expected, the entire organization comes out ahead. The labor-intensive manual processes of many planning and budgeting teams are simplified and made easier through the automation available with cloud-based EPM software. Rather than continuing to be transaction-focused, teams can become performance-centric, making decisions based on real-time data.

3. Creates what-if scenarios and new versions with ease

Using manual entry methods can make creating new financial scenarios a challenge. Numbers must be adjusted and then readjusted so as not to confuse the system. However, FP&A software has come a long way, allowing finance teams to not only create what-if scenarios separate from their current information but also clearly present the results of possible scenarios.

4. Secures accurate information

Uncertainty around the accuracy of data can plague team members throughout every level of an organization. But a cloud-based EPM system reduces the reliance on manual entry – which can be repetitive and error-prone – so that accurate, real-time financial and operational data is available. The streamlined process allows for more insight into changes and better control over what happens next.

5. Generates visually impactful reports

It can be uncomfortable walking into a room full of leaders with a report that looks like nothing but numbers on a page, making it difficult to quickly and succinctly paint a picture of progress. The ability of EPM software solutions to create branded reports with visible KPIs can go a long way in increasing their impact. Aesthetically pleasing reports might seem small in the grand scheme of planning and budgeting processes, but a final professional-looking report can make a big difference.

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Cloud-based EPM software takes finance teams into the digital era

Today’s CFOs are looking to develop the digital skills of their teams – and many are considering using cloud-based systems to make it happen. For planning and budgeting purposes, EPM software can be a simple way to do just that. Systems like NetSuite Planning and Budgeting and Workday® software offer ease of use, flexibility, and often an improved return on the technology investment.

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An EPM software solution can support your business, and Crowe can support the transition

Inefficient systems and manual efforts can hinder the day-to-day processes of FP&A teams and hurt profitability. With optimized planning and reporting processes through EPM software, backed by deep industry specialization, finance can become a more strategic player in a company’s decision-making cycle.

Businesses can choose a system based on the criteria important to their short- and long-term goals. Solutions like NetSuite Planning and Budgeting and Workday aren’t highly prescribed, which means FP&A teams can use the systems’ flexibility to fit with their needs – giving businesses the chance to take the accuracy of their forecasts from good to great.

And luckily, Crowe isn’t just an experienced software development implementer, we are a global accounting, consulting, and technology firm and have deep expertise in financial planning. We have helped thousands of businesses upgrade outdated processes and maximize profits with tailored approaches, personalized service, and a proven methodology.

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We can help you choose the right FP&A software solution for your business – and help get you up and running quickly.
David Sun
David Sun
Managing Director, Consulting

1 “FP&A Trends Survey 2022: How Technology Advances FP&A to the Role of Strategic Advisor,” FP&A Trends, FP&A Strategy Consulting, July 25, 2022, https://fpa-trends.com/fp-research/fpa-trends-survey-2022-how-technology-advances-fpa-role-strategic-advisor