In my professional experience, one of the biggest challenges faced by startups and small companies is the lack of resources to manage the workload within the finance department. This lack is especially painful in the area of budgeting and financial planning. Financial forecasting is a highly detailed activity that requires cross-functional communication, and it can be very time consuming to maintain on an ongoing basis. Because startups and small companies rarely have the resources to budget for every department, their finance departments are often limited to accountants managing month-end close and treasury functions.
To minimize the workload, and still ensure that relevant detail can be easily managed, NetSuite offers syncing with Oracle’s Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS), which replaces the budgeting functionality within the NetSuite’s core accounting software. While the software is intuitive to use, here are a few suggestions to make it easier to budget using NetSuite and PBCS.
Creating Templates in PBCS
One of the advantages of PBCS is that it can be used to create custom budgeting templates, where GL accounts can be organized by departments with the flexibility to edit certain GL accounts while locking other account / department combinations. Preferably, budgeting templates should be created with the following best practices:
- The template(s) should build up revenue from basic assumptions, including those that can be captured and actualized, on a weekly / monthly basis.
- Expense budget templates by GL accounts should be set up by department. Only specific people, or mostly a single point of contact within each department, should have the permission to edit the template(s).
- Amortization and depreciation schedules should be set up in a separate template of their own.
Financial Template in Excel
Once the budgeting templates have been created, a financial forecasting / budgeting package can be built in Excel and maintained along the same lines as Essbase. The best practices to create a template within Excel are:
- Setup data retrieval and upload on separate tabs to ensure that changes made are being accurately captured.
- A single person should actualize the file with actuals from the previous week or month and use conditional formatting to highlight variances to target or items that need to be re-forecasted based on actuals (e.g., cash flow, Departmental GL expenses, etc.).
- Build a dynamic template that requires minimal ongoing maintenance and lock the cells within the Excel template to prevent unauthorized changes.
- Once the re-forecast process is complete, the results should be reviewed and approved prior to uploading the new forecast.
Reporting Template in Excel
The financial forecasting process outputs include the proforma financial statements and executive / board packages. Templates can be built in Excel on top of the PBCS cube such that reports can be easily updated with the latest forecast. In order to ensure that this process is error free, the following suggestions are recommended:
- Save each version of the forecast, and clearly identify the forecast versions that align with certain reporting packages.
- Minimize or replace the use of linking various Excel files with different forecast versions (e.g., actuals, last month forecast, this month forecast, etc.) as that will minimize errors. This may slow down Excel during the data retrieval process, but it will likely lead to more accuracy.
Optimizing NetSuite and PBCS and Other Systems
The above practices have helped me to effectively use the NetSuite and PBCS integration and the subsequent download into Excel to manage huge amounts of data. If you’re curious about optimizing your use of NetSuite and PCBS or other financial systems, please reach out! We have a broad base of expertise to help you understand how to use various tools to maximize your productivity.
If you’d like to learn more about financial process automation and selecting and implementing a financial system, you can download our free checklist: