~ A Must-Have Guide When Evaluating and Purchasing or Developing a Budgeting Tool
If you are a budget manager in your organisation responsible for assessing the capabilities of a budgeting solution or even developing an improved budgeting model, here are three important points to look out for (putting aside price and affordability first):
A good tool builds in capacity to conform to the business instead of making the
business conforms to its limitations. Every budget manager should be given a total control over the template format, which can be easily customised according to different organisation and business needs. It should be easy to implement and does not require users to undergo any extensive training. For instance, in an Excel worksheet, when budget users re-arrange the row layout of the budget items, budget managers can still easily capture the consolidated inputs into the template. Budget users do not have to construct keep separate worksheets for their own workings and those required for submission.
There should be easy transfer of template details from one data batch to another and updating of numbers can be done in a couple of minutes, minimising any delaying in making urgent business decisions. A good tool allows easy what-if analysis. Budget managers and users should not be restricted by the template in their analysis, that is, they can analyse the numbers from more than one perspective (e.g. by distribution channels followed by product groups or vice versa). And they should be able to can add new data batches to store their workings and create an audit trail for their budgeting numbers.
You should look for a budgeting tool that has a comprehensive and easy to use report generation capability and can turn data into intelligence without any time consuming programming. Details of the respective departments, business units or countries should not get lost during consolidation; so that subsequent detailed comparison of the budget numbers can be performed. Budgets users should be able to effortlessly produce any desired reports at any level of detail and custom charts for reporting with just a few mouse clicks. These charts should be set up such that they can be updated automatically upon opening or at regular interval. New data can be added automatically and old records are deleted when it detects that the record has been removed from the source.
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