In the last post, three out of five criteria to assess business performance in relation to the corporate planning, budgeting and forecasting process were discussed. The last two, pointed out by Aberdeen Group in its 2011 study, are technology and performance management.
Technology and automation play significant roles in facilitating the corporate planning, budgeting and forecasting process. Ideally, with technology:
- Participants in the corporate planning, budgeting and forecasting process are automatically guided through steps
- External events can trigger an alert to adjust forecasts
- Internal events can trigger an alert to adjust forecasts
These can be achieved when businesses deploy enterprise applications: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), financial reporting and consolidation software, planning/budgeting/forecasting software, and corporate performance management (CPM) software. Top-performing companies are more likely to implement these tools, with 54% using planning/budgeting/forecasting software compared with only 24% of laggard organisations using it.
Aberdeen Group also pointed out specific software that differentiates best-in-class companies from others. The most popular are query and reporting tools, followed by an enterprise Business Intelligence (BI) platform, dashboard/scorecard tools, and event management and workflow automation.
An interesting finding is that, while best-in-class companies are more likely to use spreadsheets, they are less reliant on them as the sole means of communication and interaction, preferring to combine them with other applications. Meanwhile, laggard organisations are more likely to use spreadsheets only, and to manually consolidate multiple spreadsheets, which consumes time and puts them at risk of inaccurate data.
Lastly, performance management is the ability to track performance against budget and maintain visibility into all factors in the corporate planning, budgeting and forecasting process. In this spirit, top performing companies are:
- 47% more likely to integrate and align sales forecasts with overall revenue and cost forecasts
- 79% more likely to update their forecasts on a monthly basis
- 35% more likely to believe that the frequency with which they update their forecasts is sufficient
Whether your organisation’s performance is classified as best-in-class, industry average or laggard, there are steps to improve it. Find out in the full report “Financial Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting in the New Economy.”