It goes without saying that corporate budgeting and forecasting are highly complex and time-consuming activities. Nevertheless, like most things in life that are not fun to do, they are necessary. Financial forecasts should be driven by as much financial data as possible.
The problem is, most of the time those preparing them simply do not have the necessary tools to do this 😞. Let’s find out what this really means!
Time to Read: 7 minutes
Who Should Read: FP&A team, CFO, Controller, NetSuite Administrator.
Drink Pairing: Black Coffee, Light Roast
Need a demo or support? Swing by the support page, we’ll have you sorted quickly
What you’ll learn:
- About budgeting and forecasting software
- The cost of not using a forecasting software
- Operational Benefits of Adaptive Insights as a budgeting tool
- Using the Adaptive Planning NetSuite connection
1. What is business budgeting and forecasting?
Preparing a 3-year forecast split by quarters is certainly no easy task. Many organizations today have dedicated Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) teams who are responsible for creating these accurate forecasts.
As you can imagine, this process usually involves tons of spreadsheets, and many sleepless nights endured by analysts building them.
A little bit of background…
Let’s start with the basics – most companies will review the budget forecast for the year in a series of sessions. Members of the finance team will take management through the forecast and justify the numbers which they put together. On average, forecasts will typically cover a 3 year period (by quarter), and a budget will cover the next fiscal year.
The amount of data that goes into producing real-time reports is enormous, this complexity only increases as your company grows. Combining data for multiple subs with unique business conditions to create a meaningful forecast, is a daunting task.
While companies have started exploring forecasting and budgeting software, many still use Excel, spending hours creating sheets with dozens of formulas. What are the implications for this? Let’s find out:
Cost of not having a specialized business budgeting software
- Sheer labor hours: The number of hours that are spent gathering and maintaining spreadsheets with formulas. Consolidating spreadsheets from different business units is also a highly mundane and error-prone task.
- Energy Channeled to the Wrong Area: Instead of focusing on business planning, FP&A teams are occupied with data cleanup.
- Risk of Incorrect Data: The creation of Excel-based forecasts are primarily human driven, making the risk of error very high.
- Lack of Flexibility: An annual budget will typically contain numerous assumptions that drive those numbers. Making changes to assumptions in a spreadsheet model is challenging, often breaking, resulting in endless hours spent trying to fix it.
2. Adaptive Insights as a budgeting tool
Now that we’ve gone over some challenges finance teams face when budget reporting & forecasting, let’s see how Adaptive Insights helps.
Adaptive Insights was founded in 2003 as a budgeting and reporting tool. They’ve quickly become a game-changer in the world of budgeting and forecasting solutions. At the time, business forecasting & budgeting was done exclusively in Excel spreadsheets.
Fast-forward 15 years, Adaptive Insights has gone through multiple rounds of funding and has been featured in world-renowned articles. In 2018, the company was acquired by Workday, the massive cloud-based software vendor.
How Adaptive Insights can make your budgeting, forecasting, and reporting life less painful
A single version of the truth: Forecasting and planning can be a ruthless world. Finance leaders are expected to predict a company’s net income for 3 years – and are held accountable for the forecast. To add, many bonuses can be directly tied to those forecasts.
There’s a lot at stake here, and one thing you want to make sure of is data integrity. Adaptive Planning allows budgeting, forecasting, and reporting activities to be in a unified system, providing data consistency and forecasting accuracy.
Simplifying the budgeting process: To maintain and consolidate spreadsheets between departments for a company-wide forecast is tedious. With Adaptive Insights, your entire company can work towards that annual budget on the cloud. You can have multiple versions of the budget, or a working budget, modifying as you go, eliminating hours of manual work.
Data Agility: Adaptive Insights simply allows you to do more with the data you have on your hands. You are able to slice and dice your numbers in more ways than one, and incorporate multiple dimensions into your forecast.
You may be looking to forecast sales by sales rep, region and product in the same model for the upcoming year. Adaptive Insights allows you to do that in a very simple and intuitive way, using effortless drag-and-drop functionality.
User-friendly platform: Budgeting should be a collaborative process that involves employees from multiple departments, not just your finance team. However, finance teams typically keep budgeting spreadsheets to themselves because of their complex nature. Adaptive Insights was built to avoid this, and allow users from all departments to be more involved in the budgeting process.
It achieves this by making the interface very easy to use. It basically has the look and feel of a spreadsheet but eliminates the complex maintenance that would typically come with it. All formulas are written in plain English, meaning you don’t need to be an excel expert to understand calculations. You can also easily know where a number is being pulled from.
Drill-down capabilities: An awesome feature of Adaptive Insights is the ability to dig into the meaning of the numbers, quickly. By simply clicking on a number, you can be redirected to the source of that number. This easily gets you the necessary background information you need to understand what that number means. Instead of navigating through multiple sheets, Adaptive Insights does that work for you.
Visualizing the data: Most people are visual, graphs, charts, and tables make it a lot easier for us to process information. Adaptive Insights allows you to customize dashboards to include all kinds of critical graphs and charts. You can then drill down into numbers directly from those graphs and charts to investigate variances or perform analysis.
Scalability: Adaptive Insights can support the growth of your organization by allowing you to store numerous versions of budgets. Your budgets and forecasts can also be multiple levels deep. Plan on expanding into new territories and adding new subsidiaries to your organization? Not a problem, Adaptive Insights will enable reporting capabilities for your expanding structure.
3. Using Adaptive Insights with NetSuite
So, we’ve gone over budgeting and forecasting, let’s see how Adaptive Insights works with your current NetSuite setup.
Taking a step back for a moment, Adaptive Insights allows you to compare planned data with your actuals. For Adaptive Insights to be useful, you need a consistent and systematic way to import your actuals from your ERP system. So what does this mean?
Good News: Adaptive Insights has built-in features that make this process easy for you.
- Adaptive Insights NetSuite Integration: Adaptive Insights has a connector that will allow you to integrate your actual financials from NetSuite. You can do this on a monthly basis, quarterly, or any frequency that you deem to be necessary. Use those actuals to compare to what you had originally budgeted/forecasted and spot variances, as well as perform reconciliations.
- NetSuite Transaction Drill-through: Adaptive Insights allows you to drill into actuals data that was imported from NetSuite. Allowing you to look deeper into the transactions that resulted in the number. This allows for a seamless process of investigating variances between your budget and actuals. Let’s say you imported your actuals data for October from NetSuite into Adaptive Insights. You then compare those numbers to what you had budgeted and realized your utility expenses were WAY over. You can then drill down to the NetSuite transactions that make up the number, getting to the root cause, quickly. This truly transforms Adaptive Insights from a mere budgeting tool to a financial business intelligence platform.
- Export Budgets from Adaptive Insights to NetSuite: You can export budgets that you create in Adaptive Insights into NetSuite.
I have NetSuite, why can’t I just run my financial reporting and budgeting from there?
Here’s the thing. Oracle NetSuite is a world class ERP system and has a reputation for being an accounting platform with robust data integrity.
You WANT it to be the system of record and have it create and manage all your financial transactions. However, budgeting and forecasting is not the forte, smart financial business decisions come from financial forecasting software, Adaptive Insights.
So, what you need is a way to tie your past (actuals data) with your future (planned data). NetSuite is your “source of truth”, the data generated in ERP will drive forward-looking projections via Adaptive Insights Netsuite integration.