When we engage with a company to help them research the right BI solution, we find they fit into one of three categories. The first group would be companies that currently do not perform any budgeting or forecasting strategy, but are looking to incorporate it into their business. The second group includes organizations currently using Excel to do their budgeting, importing that information into an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and then reporting on it from their ERP system. The third category includes companies who already have a full budgeting and forecasting tool in place, but it's not meeting their needs because it's not well-connected to their ERP system and does not allow for easy re-forecasting or what-if analysis.
If your company falls into any of the above categories, here are some tips on what you should be looking for when searching for a budgeting and forecasting tool.
Make sure that the business intelligence solution you’re considering has direct, real-time integration with your ERP system, or at least offers a nightly upload. The tool should have the flexibility to build the kind of models that you'll need for your business. And make sure you can drill down to the detail when you're looking at your financial statements.
Here are some tips for a successful integration once you’ve selected the right business intelligence solution.
Tip 1: Start the Evaluation Process Early
First of all, start early. If you've never gone through a budgeting process within your organization, it's going to take some time to define how you want to do it, how you want to organize it, and what your template should be. I recommend starting anywhere from three to five months ahead of time from when you want your budget to be complete.
Tip 2: Avoid Self Implementation
Second, don't try to build your templates on your own. I strongly advise against buying a business intelligence tool and trying to self-implement. You most likely won’t end up with the optimal solution and you’ll become frustrated.
I recommend that you hire professionals to implement, but make the commitment to learn the tool. Have someone on your team who can commit to learning the business intelligence solution. And make sure to have your consultants teach you how to use your BI solution so you can own it after the initial implementation.
Tip 3: Stay Committed
And finally, if it's your first time budgeting, stay committed to the process. It's most difficult the first year to do your budget. However, it gets easier every year after that as much can be re-used. Also, if you are re-forecasting throughout the year, you are ahead of the game.
If you're interested in learning more about how to select the right business intelligence tool to start budgeting and forecasting, download our whitepaper or contact us at The Resource Group.