Financial Planning & Analysis

BI & EPM Planning and Budgeting: Automation and Acceleration Tips

Budget season for companies can be extremely challenging if the budget process is manual, inefficient or not-scalable. An Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) / Business Intelligence (BI) software tool is needed in order to negate those process issues. Best practices also exist that can be adopted in the budgeting process, while using the selected tool. Let’s go over seven best practices for BI and EPM planning and budgeting that can help with your automation and acceleration of budgets.

Creation of Standardized Finance Templates (P&L, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow etc.) for Actualized Data

The first step would be to create standard templates in the EPM that retrieve actual data from the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and build all the relevant reports. The EPM would therefore contain all the actual data by time period.

Creation of Standardized Finance Templates (P&L, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Etc.) for Budgeted Data

Once the EPM is successfully building and housing the Actual data, standardized budgeting templates that mirror the Actualized templates can be built. These budgeting templates would accept budgeted data, input by the Business Managers/Finance Teams. The EPM will accept the data input as budgeted data.

Pre-Populating Known Data/Rates in the Budgeted Templates

Certain rates and data sets can be pre-populated in the budgeting templates. Rates such as tax rates or data sets such as health care costs can be pre-entered into the budgeting templates. The end user would see the pre-populated data that has been previously entered. These pre-populated rates/data would not be editable by the end user.

Building Variance Templates

A helpful step would be to create Variance Templates. These templates would house various versions (e.g., Actual, Budget, Historical) of the data, with the ability to stack them up against each other and calculate changes. The end user could use these templates as a means of reference and also to notice any unusual changes in the data.

Managing Version Control

Version Control is an extremely important step in maintaining all the different iterations of the data by timeline. These versions can be housed in the system and accessed on demand by the end user.

Setting Access/Security Roles

In order to ensure that the right end user can only access the data they should, access “keys” need to be logged and granted with precision. There is considerable compliance that also requires that the access and security roles within an organization be managed carefully.

Non-Finance/ Business Management Training

One of the most essential phases would be the training of the Non-Finance/Business Management users in the usage of the Forecasting templates. The success of the budgeting process relies heavily on the end user’s understanding and correct usage of the EPM. Conducting in-person walkthroughs and providing technical training to all key stakeholders is key. Considerable budget process issues stem from inadequate user understanding of the process/system as opposed to a system breakdown.

Get Help With EPM Planning and Budgeting Processes

Applying the best practices outlined above could reduce several budgeting pain points that organizations routinely experience. There is no “one size fits all” approach when implementing the above measures, and these measures may need to be customized depending upon the organization/industry in question.

If you’d like to learn more, you can download our free checklist for financial process automation and system selection:

financial system selection checklist

You can also contact 8020 Consulting to explore how we can support your EPM planning and budgeting automation efforts. We’d be happy to chat.

About the Author

Vikram possesses 17 years of experience focused in Financial Planning and Analysis across a variety of industries such as Entertainment, IT Communications, Banking, Food and Beverage, Investment Consulting, Retail, Publishing, Aircraft Distribution, and Real Estate. Vikram’s core competencies include managing finance teams and operations (Supply Chain/Inventory Management, Cost Accounting), conceptualizing and leading budgeting and forecasting processes relating to the P&L, Capital Planning, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow analysis for both mid-sized and Fortune 1000 Companies. Vikram has project managed and led several system implementations such as Rightsline, Anaplan, Hyperion Essbase, and TM1 Cognos. Vikram attended Willamette University (Oregon) where he received his MBA specializing in Finance. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting from Christ College in Bangalore and a Master’s degree in Finance and Accounting from Bangalore University.

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