Dear Santa, Please Bring Me a Better Budget Process

If your company has a December or January fiscal year-end, you are probably just now completing your 2018 budget or you’re about to enter the final stretch of the process. It certainly doesn’t help make the yuletide merry when you’re working long days to revise and roll up yet another plan iteration, or scheduling yet another review meeting into a packed calendar. But then, maybe there’s a holiday party or two you’re happy to have a good excuse to miss!

Did this year’s budget process go as smoothly as a sleigh on snow, or was it less fun than driving to the mall in a white-out blizzard? If you were to write a letter to Santa to bring you a better process and better software (harkening back to the innocence of childhood when maybe Legos, a drum set, or a new puppy were your greatest desires), what would you ask for?

Better process control: Did budget process participants submit their numbers on time? Were you easily able to keep track of who submitted and who didn’t, as well as all the manager approvals along the way?

Improved participation: Did the key functional managers responsible for running the business participate? Did the system make it easy for them to take part and submit their numbers and commentary? Will stakeholders really “own” their numbers throughout next year?

Connected to corporate goals: How well were the process and participants connected to corporate goals? Did each function and business unit submit plans that have a realistic chance of contributing to the overall financial and other objectives?

Financials based on relevant business drivers: Is the plan built upon relevant and realistic business drivers? Did you have recent actual driver and financial trends easily at your disposal? How well do lower-level operational plans support the company’s overall financial plan?

Quick turn-around of iterations: How quickly and easily were new planning scenarios created, major assumptions and their impacts updated, and new re-calculations turned around? How quickly could you revise financial statements and supporting schedules?

Fewer mistakes: Did broken spreadsheet links, bad formulas, or a rigid planning system result in extra effort to fix the mechanics of your model mid-process, and cause additional effort to review and validate numbers?

A more complete plan: Were you able to plan all the relevant parts of the business up to and including P&L and Balance Sheet, or did some numbers have to be guessed or “plugged” because it would have been too time-consuming to build and manage a more complete model?

More reliable software solution: Do you need to move away from the risks and effort of a spreadsheet-based budget process? Is it time to implement a new solution using Oracle’s Hyperion Planning, its cloud cousin PBCS, or Oracle Essbase with Dodeca? If you have one of these modern applications already in place, could some streamlining be in order, to make the system run better the next time around?

 

Or perhaps you would instead just ask for that new puppy. Let me know, and I’ll pass your wishes on to Mr. Claus. Happy holidays!

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