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Keys to Vendor Selection in the Budget Process

  
  
  
  
  
  

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Selecting a vendor to handle your budgeting and planning can be a tricky proposition.  Many organizations (and people) do not have a great deal of experience at vendor selection and the world of cloud-computing has completely changed the game. However there are a number of key considerations that can help you select the right long-term budgeting partner.

The first question that many organizations consider is,  “Should we try to utilize the budget module within their existing ERP product, or should we choose a vendor that specializes in budgeting software?”  If the decision is made to utilize a specialized vendor, then the question becomes, “What criteria should we use?”

Why not the ERP?
For the most part, ERP systems are transaction-based systems built for financial people, while budgeting is an exercise in account balance information for non-financial people.  Where ERP systems focus on accounting controls, budgeting requires user flexibility.  ERP systems generally do not offer the right functionality, flexibility or usability for budget preparation, review, approval and analysis.  Plus, most are still client-server based systems that require IT support – where budgeting is best done using cloud-computing where there is no IT support required. 

So, if you make the decision to go with a specialized budgeting vendor, which one is best for you?  The answer depends on what your primary goals are.  Many vendors of budgeting software are really slicing and dicing companies that offer budgeting add-ons.  These vendors offer very nice, but very expensive modular capabilities that start off looking attractive, but over time become cumbersome to manage and maintain and are very, very expensive to operate. 

You should start by asking yourself several questions and making a list of the problems you are trying to solve.  This is very different than listing features, which is a mistake.  Features do not necessarily match up to problems and the priority of those problems.  Plus, more features often means a more cumbersome and more expensive solution. 

Most people think of the budget process as a financial one.  Maybe, but if it is, why are 90% of the users non-financial people?  Budgeting should be considered as much a communications process as a financial one.  The primary purpose of a budget is to provide a platform for department heads to justify and fund the strategic goals of the institution.  Therefore, it should be considered an end-user application, not simply a financial one. 

The first question to ask yourself is a simple one.  “How do I rank the following general criteria: usability by non-financial people, functionality for finance and department heads, and price?”  Not surprisingly, most organizations choose usability and price over functionality as long as the solution handles the basics of budgeting, forecasting and reporting. 

The second question to ask is, “Am I looking for a budgeting and forecasting application or a monthly management reporting application, or both?” And if both, “What is most important to me?” 

The reason for these questions is that focusing on your needs will better guide your selection process than having the vendors guide your needs.

Most organizations still budget in Excel.  Therefore the primary problems that they have are:

  • Excel is not a programming language and financial people are not programmers.  Therefore, creating the right functionality for users and financial people is impossible.
  • Excel is not a database, so managing spreadsheets is very cumbersome.
  • Excel workbooks are prone to errors and this frightens most financial people.
  • Financial people love Excel, but non-financial people do not share that love.  So, organizations are stunned when the Excel-based budget process is rejected by department heads.
  • There is no workflow and approval process in Excel.   Understanding what has, and has not, been approved can be a mess.
  • Since Excel does not offer a centralized and blessed database, there is no reporting functionality in Excel.  This includes lack of budget reporting, consolidation reporting and variance reporting.
     

Yet most vendors provide an incomplete solution that starts with reporting and loses sight of budget preparation.  Organizations need to be reminded of the well-known term GIGO (garbage in, garbage out).  The most important criterion is   making sure that the selected product is the one that will best promote departmental head participation in the budget process and ownership of the numbers.  Spinning budget data that does not have department head buy-in is an expensive and senseless exercise. 

So how do you make sense of all of the above?

Keys to Success in Evaluating Vendors:

  • Choose a product that runs in the cloud.  It is not the future of computing, it is the now!  Choosing a costly client-server application that requires IT support will only lead to a costly and time-consuming conversion down the road. 
  • Focus on the needs of the people who will prepare the budget…the end users.  Choose a Turbo-Tax like interface that will appeal to the broadest possible range of users.
  • Avoid the RFP process.  There are two reasons for this.  First, the RFP process tends to focus on how you have historically done your vendor selection process not what you should be doing in your process.  It does not take advantage of new and different ideas that might be available to you since you are limiting the RFP to your historical knowledge.  Second, the RFP process tends to focus on features and functions (which most likely won’t be used anyway) as opposed to usability.  In today’s world, people are used to well-designed apps in their personal lives and accept less crap in business applications.  Functionality is no longer the key to success, usability is.  For more information, please see the following article:  http://blog.xlerant.com/Blog/bid/86126/Guest-Post-RFP-s-Don-t-Work.
  • Choose a system that offers the right overall functionality for users, but be careful not to over-buy based on functionality that simply will not be used going forward. 
  • Price to value.  Get the most functionality that you can at the best possible price.
  • Make the vendor quote the realistic price for both the software and the implementation upfront.  Beware of the add-on price for modules after you have made the vendor selection.
  • Check references carefully.  How long did the implementation take?  Did you end up paying what the vendor originally told you the price would be for services and software?  Was the software really easy for you to use and maintain or were you surprised?
  • Meet the people from the vendor who will be responsible for your success, not just the sales team.  If you don’t meet the people responsible for your success before you buy, both you and they will not be happy with the end result.
  • Ask the vendor how many organizations returned the software or no longer use it.  The number may shock you and you should determine why that has happened. 
  • Ask the references if they were surprised by the amount of work required to implement and maintain the system. 

As in all software selections, there is no totally simple path.  Each organization is unique and will have its own criteria based on the personalities of the budget manager, the needs of the department heads and the industry that the organization operates in.  But keeping the process simple and focusing on usability and the needs of 90% of the users in the budget process (department heads responsible for budget preparation and review) will provide a much greater probability of success of the ultimate application. 

XLerant is a SaaS software solutions company that builds and implements innovative, practical and incredibly powerful browser-based budget preparation software for mid-sized and large organizations and higher education institutions, energizing a "Culture of Budget Accountability" among users. The company serves customers in several industries. XLerant's premier budgeting and planning application, BudgetPak, replaces spreadsheet-based budgeting and provides maximum user flexibility and financial controls. Improved communication, greater ownership of the numbers and increased transparency enable companies to better manage financial performance throughout the fiscal year.

10 Biggest Mistakes Made in Budgeting

  
  
  
  
  
  

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We all make mistakes, right?  But there are little mistakes and big mistakes and personal mistakes and business mistakes.  A big mistake made in a business setting can have profound implications – both on you personally and on your organization.

Budgeting is gaining significant importance as organizations try to improve and better tune their financial performance.  Providing for a well-thought out and justified plan – that ties to the strategy of the organization and is owned by the department managers – is the key goal that most institutions are trying to achieve.

How to achieve these goals and how to avoid the mistakes that impede these goals is critical to the process.  There are 10 fundamental mistakes that people and organizations can make around the budget process that will hurt or eliminate their chances of success.  These mistakes are, unfortunately, common and are sometimes in the blind spot of the very people in the organization responsible for the budget function. 

Here is a list of the key mistakes and ways to prevent making them.

Mistake #1:  Failing to consider budgeting as “mission critical” to the organization.  In today’s world, creating a budget that is well-justified and supports the strategic plan is not a nice to have…it is a must have.  Organizations that do not treat budgeting and planning as a “mission critical” application are doomed to live with a poor plan, fraught with problems and not well-supported by the department managers whose input and participation is required.  Budgeting and financial planning is as critical to the organization as the general ledger and must be treated as such.


Mistake #2:  Trying to use Excel for budgeting.  Excel is not a system development environment, nor a database.  It is usually used for budgeting as a “default” – since ERP systems are notoriously bad at budgeting.  So financial professionals took matters into their own hands and tried to use discreet Excel worksheets for budgeting.  Using Excel results in a lack of user flexibility, the re-keying of data, the possibility (more likely the probability) of errors, and manual data management.  An additional mistake in trying to use Excel for budgeting is assuming that the department heads are comfortable using Excel, or an Excel look-alike product.   The reality is that many department heads are non-financial people and would prefer a more intuitive user experience.  But there is a role for Excel as a calculator and a lens into the database, but it should not be the primary budgeting system. The role for Excel in the budgeting process needs to be a well-thought out plan and a bi-directional link between Excel and a purpose-built budget system. 


Mistake #3:  A focus on functionality over user experience in budgeting software.  This is best explained by a recent quote from the CIO Journal of the WSJ,

 At a time when people are accustomed to using well-designed applications from companies such as Google Inc. and Apple Inc. in their personal lives, they have little patience for workplace applications that leave them confused. Functionality is no longer the definition of success. Usability is key.  Users will accept less crap today

If you want user participation, you MUST focus on the end-user experience over attractive “bell and whistle” functions that will rarely, if ever, be used.


Mistake #4:  Treating all users and departments alike.  Different people think about their departments differently.  Providing a one size fits all budget preparation environment simply does not accommodate the diverse needs of your different users and departments.  Flexibility at the user level is required for effective budgeting.


Mistake #5:  Viewing the budget process as a financial versus a communications process.  While the end goal of the budget is to collect and produce a financial plan for the organization, the main exercise is a communication process of determining how the various department leads plan to support the organization’s strategy (and fund that strategy with resources) over the next fiscal year.  This is a communications process that needs to be supported with outstanding communications capabilities.  Lack of documentation, justification, notes, audit trails, approval and budget workflow can seriously impede this communication flow.


Mistake #6:  Issuing an archaic RFP process for a new system.  The worst way to select a product where 90% or 95% of your users are non-financial people is to issue an RFP.  There are two fundamental reasons why RFP’s are becoming archaic.  First, RFP’s are written to support an existing process without regard to what might be new and different in the marketplace.  Secondly, RFP’s simply cannot capture the most important capability of the budgeting system…usability.  A checklist of features developed without regard to the usability of the system is a complete waste of time.  It is a process that died at the end of the last century. 


Mistake #7:  Incorporating budgeting into the ERP system.  The goal of the ERP system is one-stop shopping.  Yes, ERP systems are good at transaction processing for financial people – but budgeting is an account balance application for non-financial people.  So selecting a best-of-breed solution for this particular “mission critical” application is more important than having a budget (and a very poor user experience with limited functionality) that is, in theory, integrated into the ERP system.  In today’s world of software, anything can integrate with anything else seamlessly.  Plus, with cloud-based budgeting, the need for IT cost and support is eliminated and the usability of the software is dramatically improved. 


Mistake #8:  Choosing slice and dice functionality over budget preparation usability.  Many organizations make the classic mistake of choosing variance reporting over budgeting functionality and usability.   They immediately get sold on slicing and dicing of information and forget that the quality of that information is more valuable than the viewing of that information.  Remember GIGO…Garbage In, Garbage Out. 


Mistake #9:  Losing the forest for the trees.  Many organizations, in the evaluation process for budgeting, will list a whole series of problems that they are trying to solve.  Yet in the end, they will focus on one singular feature that may not work precisely the way they want it to.  Therefore, they will throw out the entire evaluation and lose site of the 99% improvement that they could get for one single thing that may be imperfect.  This is called Perfection Paralysis.  The acronym to apply here is to KISS.


Mistake #10:  Budgeting as a once-a-year exercise.  Getting one version of a budget is challenging enough for many organizations.  Repeating that process quarterly is a painful thought.  But if the process is easy, then the concept certainly makes sense.  Actual results will vary.  Having a fresh view of the financial plan can be immensely powerful versus relying on a plan that was produced 15 months prior to the end of the fiscal year.  This means having the ability to marry actuals from the ERP system, as they become available, with the budget or revised forecasts and making further adjustments to the plan to keep it fresh.  Keeping the process “fresh” also improves the quality, reliability and the ownership of the plan by the department managers. 

Eliminating or preventing these 10 mistakes can improve financial performance, improve the department heads participation in (and ownership of) the numbers, allow the organization to better budget to the strategic plan – and make life easier for the CEO, CFO, finance department and the department heads.  Confidence in the numbers and confidence that the plan ties to strategy can, in itself, justify the investment to improve the process.

XLerant is a SaaS software solutions company that builds and implements innovative, practical and incredibly powerful browser-based budget preparation software for mid-sized and large organizations and higher education institutions, energizing a "Culture of Budget Accountability" among users. The company serves customers in several industries. XLerant's premier budgeting and planning application, BudgetPak, replaces spreadsheet-based budgeting and provides maximum user flexibility and financial controls. Improved communication, greater ownership of the numbers and increased transparency enable companies to better manage financial performance throughout the fiscal year.

How College Presidents Can Improve Financial Performance

  
  
  
  
  
  

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How can college presidents improve financial performance and ensure support/funding of their strategic plans?

Two things that all college presidents (small and large) have in common are (1) making sure that the entire institution is supporting and executing their strategy, and (2) identifying ways of improving both the financial performance and the health of the institution.  These are inter-related objectives.

One way to address both of these objectives simultaneously is to improve the budgeting and planning process.  No, this is not just an issue for the CFO.  It is an institution-wide issue that can have a profound impact on the above factors. 

There is no constituency better suited for improving the strategy and financial performance of the institution than the people who actually run the individual departments within it.  And the budgeting process should be considered more of a communications process than a financial one.  So getting greater participation in, and ownership of, the objectives and numbers in the process should be mission critical to the college president. 

And in this case – size does matter.  The smaller the institution, the more important this issue is and the more impact it can have. 

Yet the budgeting process in most institutions is a cumbersome process, done in a two-dimensional spreadsheet, which is fraught with the potential of errors, manual intervention and lack of flexibility to handle the needs above.  Doesn’t that frighten you?  It should. 

Experience with this issue shows that there are a set of guidelines that college presidents should follow to better exploit this opportunity for strategic support and financial performance. 

In a recent survey of college presidents, here were the top four complaints about their budget process:

1. Budget didn’t tie to strategy
2. Process took too long
3. They were worried about errors or lack of participation and ownership by faculty and staff
4. They could not get their questions answered quickly enough

Here are some questions that can be asked of the process:

  • What other institutions (like us) have done a better job of this and replaced their budget process?  What were their results? What is the industry standard for higher education budgeting?
  • Can this be done in a cost effective manner?
  • Should we/can we change our process?
  • What is the best way to engage faculty and staff?  Engagement is the best way to improve financial performance; is this achieved by more features or through a better user experience? 
  • What is the best, easiest, and most cost-effective way to get my questions answered about the budget and the variances in a timely and meaningful manner?
  • How do I get proof that the budget ties to my institutional strategy?
  • What happens if we don’t achieve our revenue targets?  Do we have alternative plans?
  • Are there potential “time-bomb” errors in our budget that I may be unaware of (or we all may be unaware of)?  How do we eliminate them?
  • Are there other risks in our current process?  What are they?

So, what can be done?  There are some “best-practice” guidelines to consider that will address all of the above:

  • The first and most important guideline is to ensure that the budget process is considered “mission critical” to the institution.  If it is not highlighted as important, it won’t be treated as such.  
  • It’s important that the entire institution understands that they are required to budget to the strategy of the institution and not simply budgeting to history or politics.  This requires a number of capabilities that will be discussed below. 
  • Focus on institutional problems, not features.  Many in the budget department (finance) will immediately want to provide a features checklist.  This is fairly archaic and does not necessarily deal with the fundamental challenges of the president.  Making a list of key challenges that need to be addressed is a far better way to deal with the issue. 
  • Focus on the needs of the faculty and staff and have them own the numbers and plans.  In today’s world of computing, people are used to user-oriented applications from Apple and Google and expect the same of their business applications.  Functionality is no longer the driver of success, usability is.  Users will put up with less crap today and if the budgeting process is not designed for the faculty and staff, it will not succeed. 
  • Make sure that the budgeting solution addresses the specific needs of the faculty and staff from a functional perspective – allowing people to budget their departments the way they think about their departments.  One size does not fit all.  The library budgets differently than the athletics department…which budgets differently than the math department...which budgets differently than the admissions office...
  • It is critical to have total integrity in the budget process.  It is critical to eliminate all reasonable possibility of errors.  Excel spreadsheets are filled with errors and the possibility of errors.  Recent studies at the University of Hawaii show that 95% of all spreadsheets have at least one error in them.  Do you really want your personal credibility on the line with a 95% chance of errors in the budget you submit to the board?
  • The best way to budget to strategy is to perform Special Initiative Budgeting.  This is a concept of making sure that all major initiatives are not simply buried in the account structure of the departmental budget, but are instead called out as initiatives. 
  • The best way to ensure integrity is to improve the approval, documentation and justification process in the budget.  This allows more productive discussions and fewer questions about what’s behind the numbers.
  • The institution should proactively deal with readily available alternative plans based on enrollment, endowments and other funding.  Most budgets are out of date the day the freshman class shows up.  That is unacceptable.  
  • The budgeting process is currently too cumbersome to do multiple times a year.  But it is imperative to keep it fresh – as actual results will vary!  So having the ability to perform Forecasting, which is the process of marrying together actual results with budgets and performing adjustments is critical.
  • Overall risk mitigation…who else has done this?  Choose a solution that has proven experience in higher education – including practical experience with ERP provider integration.
  • Reporting is essential, but without a budget owned by the department heads, it is irrelevant since the numbers will be garbage.  So it is part of the process, not THE process.  Successful budgeting requires pragmatic reporting without complex maintenance and manipulation.
  • The ability to perform “what-if’s?” is absolutely essential.  But this has to be simple and pragmatic – isolating the 2-3 common questions asked in the process, versus trying to cover all possible situations (which leads to over-engineering and poor usability for the people trying to ask the questions). 

In addition, all of these objectives should be achieved in a cost-effective solution, and it should not be over-engineered.  While budgeting in higher education should be considered “mission critical” there is no sense over-spending on this.  The most complex system or the most expensive one is not necessarily the right one for you. 

Click Here for a link to an important Infographic that was the result of two separate higher education surveys on edu budgeting.  Click Here for an article and case study published in Business Officer magazine on the subject of higher education budgeting. 

An improved budget process can dramatically help the financial performance of the institution as well as ensure that the faculty and staff are supporting the strategic plan of the institution.  But the process won’t change or improve until it is deemed “mission critical” by the president. 

XLerant is a SaaS software solutions company that builds and implements innovative, practical and incredibly powerful browser-based budget preparation software for mid-sized and large organizations and higher education institutions, energizing a "Culture of Budget Accountability" among users. The company serves customers in several industries. XLerant's premier budgeting and planning application, BudgetPak, replaces spreadsheet-based budgeting and provides maximum user flexibility and financial controls. Improved communication, greater ownership of the numbers and increased transparency enable companies to better manage financial performance throughout the fiscal year.

The Seven Personas of Budgeting That Will Destroy Your Budget Process

  
  
  
  
  
  

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As we all know (and are sometimes painfully reminded):  not everyone is alike.  There are many different personality types in the world.  And there are also many different personality types in the budget process…not all of which are good for your budget process.  We have identified seven different types of budget user personas that can destroy your process and have suggestions for how to deal with them. 

The vast majority of these people and their types surface when organizations try to use Microsoft Excel for budgeting.  These individuals highlight Excel’s limitations and their unique needs or issues. 

Victim – The Victim is the person who just does not believe in or like the budget process.  This is the person who complains that the system is too hard to use, does not allow him/her to budget the way he/she thinks about his/her department and generally whines about the process, the complexity, the lack of flexibility and anything else that comes to mind.  Their inability to complete a budget is never their fault.  It is always the fault of the system and/or process.  Plus, throughout the fiscal year, they whine “that’s not my number”.

Procrastinator – This is the person who waits until the last minute at each iteration of the budget (if they submit at all) and generally gums up the works because you have to constantly wait for their submission.  This delays the consolidation, reporting and the entire approval process as you are tracking down their spreadsheets and checking to see if they actually did what you needed them to do to complete the budget.  They may always complain that they didn’t know the budget was due, they don’t have the time to fill in spreadsheets, the system didn’t allow them the flexibility to budget the way they wanted to – and on and on. 

Tinkerer – The Tinkerer is the opposite of the Procrastinator.  This is the person who submits version after version after version and causes (guess what?) version control issues as you try to determine which is his/her final, final version of the budget.  This is also the person who, as the fiscal year unfolds, wants to update the budget based on the latest results.  Hold this user accountable for their budget submission. 

Mechanic – This is the person who constantly tries to alter your budget templates by adding rows, clobbering formulas and wreaking chaos on, what you hoped was a stable and consistent budget format.  This is the person most likely for creating an error in the budget submission to the board.

Outlier – The Outlier is the person who constantly has special needs and wants to do things that are special to his/her department.  This user needs maximum flexibility within the confines of financial controls.

Information Seeker – This person wants to constantly ask questions and provide details of what he/she is requesting as part of the budget process.  This person asks for special reports and is constantly trying to communicate their specific needs in terms of justification and documentation. 

Critic - This is the person who just does not like anything about the budget process and complains about everything from lack of documentation, the potential of errors, the time it takes to get the budget consolidated, to the lack of analysis and on and on.   The critic can be especially difficult if it happens to also be a management person or specifically, your boss.  Often this person wants the problem solved but does not want to spend a great deal of money to get it done. 

These are not the only personas in the budget process, but they can be the most disruptive.  Here are some common ways to deal with the above personas. 

  • Have a Turbo-Tax like interface for the budget process that walks the user through the required steps.  This will satisfy most of the types above and eliminate complaints about lack of flexibility and lack of ease of use. 
  • Use the cloud.  Cloud computing allows anyone with Internet access and a device with a browser to easily access the budget process.  It eliminates the need for emailing spreadsheets and helps with the version control issues.  Messages can be provided to users to help remind them when budgets are due and what strategy components to budget on. 
  • Incorporate situational budgeting.  Situational budgeting provides maximum flexibility to end-users.  This is particularly effective when combined with the Turbo-Tax-like interface.  This lets users enter budget numbers and assumptions and calculations in a way that matches their individual needs. 
  • Have built-in workflow, audit trails and approval processes.  This assists the version control and quality of budget issues and will dramatically cut down time wasted on questions about the numbers. 
  • Have structured and custom built reporting for both budget review and approval as well as variance reporting.  Having a set of useful and predefined reports that support the budget preparation and approval and run against the budget database (as opposed to individual spreadsheets) can dramatically improve the overall process, reduce the budget cycle and help tie the budget to the strategy of the organization.  Having the ability to customize required reports and analysis in a way that does not require either IT support or the learning of a foreign report writer can make both the budget process and the monthly variance process easier to deal with. 
  • Have specialized functionality for salary planning and asset planning.  The two areas that can most impact the budget process are the issues of handling personnel planning (salaries, benefits, raises, incentive compensation, tax calculations) and asset planning (the fixed asset system understands run-off depreciation but has no idea what people are requesting for the next fiscal year).  Budgeting for people by department and having an equipment catalog that users can choose from that will handle things like proper accounting for the asset, and keeping track of what was requested and approved by asset, department and time period are both invaluable functions.
  • Use a database application.  Having a single version of “the truth” is imperative.  Plus a database application eliminates potential formula and other errors inherent in spreadsheets.  This allows for users to see results from prior years without compromising the integrity of that information. 
  • Allow for notes, assumptions and justification on any number in the system.  This will cut down the interactions with the Information Seeker and satisfy some of the needs of the Critics.  It also helps the organization to prepare a budget that ties to the organization’s strategy. 
  • Provide a structured “what if?”  Rather than having a general equation oriented modeling environment (that no one can and will use) having prepackaged and useful what if capabilities can reduce the stress at the end of the budget process when departments are trying to make important decisions about how to meet corporate expense objectives. 
  • Add forecasting.  Having the ability to easily marry actual results in the new fiscal year with the budget, and then providing easy budget adjustments on top of that, can keep the budget fresh and the planning process more meaningful.
  • Choose usability over functionality.  At a time when people are accustomed to using well-designed applications from companies such as Google Inc. and Apple Inc. in their personal lives, they have little patience for workplace applications that leave them confused. Functionality is no longer the definition of success. Usability is key.   The world of consumer software has become easy and simple to use and has trained users to expect that business software will follow a similar model. And if it doesn't, people are much less patient than they were in the past.
  • Don’t over-engineer.  The most important criteria is to make sure that you don’t use a cannon to kill a mouse and you don’t get locked into a system that requires lots of support and money.  If you seek an outside solution (recommended) make sure that all costs are identified early.  Software vendors like to lure you with functionality and then spring the cost on you after you have made the emotional commitment.  Be careful of that.  Also, make sure that you completely understand the support requirements of an outside system.

So, in summary, it is not easy to deal with the personas that are hell-bent on destroying this mission-critical process.  And you will never satisfy everyone.  Nothing is perfect.  But perfection is the enemy of the good.  Implementing a better budget process in your organization can dramatically reduce the impact of the seven personas and improve the overall financial performance of your organization.

For more information, Click Here to view a recording of our recent webinar, where we explore The 7 User Personas of Budgeting and show you how to effectively address their unique needs AND eliminate their ability to destroy the budgeting process.

XLerant is a SaaS software solutions company that builds and implements innovative, practical and incredibly powerful browser-based budget preparation software for mid-sized and large organizations and higher education institutions, energizing a "Culture of Budget Accountability" among users. The company serves customers in several industries. XLerant's premier budgeting and planning application, BudgetPak, replaces spreadsheet-based budgeting and provides maximum user flexibility and financial controls. Improved communication, greater ownership of the numbers and increased transparency enable companies to better manage financial performance throughout the fiscal year.

Perfection Paralysis and Budgeting

  
  
  
  
  
  

describe the image“Perfection Paralysis” is defined as fear of moving on a particular issue unless absolute perfection is achieved.   A similar sentiment is expressed in the phrase: “Perfection is the enemy of the good”.  In other words, people will sacrifice positive achievement and movement because it was not perfect. 

If you could get a threefold improvement in your current budget process, would you take it?  If you could get a threefold improvement in your budget process, but there was one small thing that required a small workaround, would you take it?  It turns out that, in many cases, the answer to the first question is “yes” and the answer to the second question is “no”.  Organizations tend to get laser focused at the end of their evaluation process on one issue that is imperfect in a vendor’s solution - while losing sight of the rest of the potential improvements that can be achieved by the solution.

When looking at process improvement, it is important to not lose sight of the forest for the trees.  Organizations need to make a T-chart of the positives and the potential negatives and make a more global decision about the proposed solution.   When done in total, decisions become clearer.

In the beginning of the decision process, organizations may recognize a myriad list of challenges with the budgeting process, such as:

  • Budgeting has become “mission critical” in todays more complex world.
  • They are stuck in “Excel Hell” with formula errors, manual data collection, consolidation, manual data entry.
  • There is no approval workflow.
  • Reporting is a mess.
  • There is no way for individual budget managers to enter their budgets in different ways that may match their needs.
  • Spreading of annual numbers is painful, difficult and not intelligent.
  • Salary and headcount planning is cumbersome if not impossible.
  • Asset or equipment planning can’t be done effectively.
  • There is no pragmatic way to do “What-If” analysis.
  • There is no way to carve off expenses for proposed department-specific special initiatives that touch multiple accounts in the account structure.
  • There is limited capabilities for calculations, allocations, drivers and other things in the budget process.
  • There is no way to re-forecast the budget once the fiscal year begins.
  • There is no effective way for a bi-directional linkage to the ERP, payroll or HR or fixed asset system to facilitate the budgeting, forecasting and variance reporting processes.

Yet often, when a solution surfaces that deals with 95% to 99% of their main issues, the organization may become hyper-focused on the one thing that the system may not do, or may not do perfectly.  This is called Perfection Paralysis.  They will prefer to “do nothing” and live with all of the imperfections in their current capability, ignoring the multitude of improvements that can be made in the process because of one thing that can’t be done that may not even be “mission critical”).

So how do you avoid this?

  • Make a list of the problems that you want to solve, not a list of the features that you need.
  • Rank those problems in terms of importance to you.
  • Consider the impact on productivity of these problems – how many hours are currently spent on work-arounds? What is this costing your team and what could you be doing “instead” with that time?
  • All software products and solutions are imperfect.  Make a T-Account of plusses and minuses and determine which list is greater and whether the list solves your problems identified above.
  • Determine the vendors product plan to see if potential concerns will be addressed over the life of the product.
  • Determine whether the vendor is focused on your industry - if so, it is likely that they will make product enhancements over time that will match the ongoing need of your industry and therefore you.
  • Talk to reference accounts from your industry to see if the general problems that they experienced match yours and if the vendor properly handled their issues.
  • Consider process changes that match the rest of the industry - just because you have always done something a certain way does not mean it is the “best practice” for your organization.
  • Find out how important you will be for the vendor - if you are one of thousands of customers, it is unlikely that you will be supported with the same care as if you are one of dozens, or hundreds, of customers.
  • Talk to other references that have recently made a similar purchase decision as you are now.

Don’t suffer from Perfection Paralysis.  There is no such thing as a perfect solution.  Continuing to hold out for such a solution gives the peers and competitors in your industry an advantage as your organization holds on to the instead of choosing to move towards a vastly improved, but imperfect future. 

People often resist change and one of the excuses to process improvement is Perfection Paralysis.  Be aware of it and do your best to move your organization forward.  There is no such thing as a perfect product.  And remember, “Perfection is the enemy of the good.”

XLerant is a SaaS software solutions company that builds and implements innovative, practical and incredibly powerful browser-based budget preparation software for mid-sized and large organizations and higher education institutions, energizing a "Culture of Budget Accountability" among users. The company serves customers in several industries. XLerant's premier budgeting and planning application, BudgetPak, replaces spreadsheet-based budgeting and provides maximum user flexibility and financial controls. Improved communication, greater ownership of the numbers and increased transparency enable companies to better manage financial performance throughout the fiscal year.

Excel in Budgeting - Friend or Foe?

  
  
  
  
  
  

Most organizations still use Microsoft Excel as their budget preparation tool.  The reason for this is that the general ledger or ERP providers don’t focus on, or even understand, the budget process or budget workflow and do not think about this from the perspective of the average user or institution.  So, financial people took matters into their own hands and, during the 1990’s, decided to handle this application in Excel. 

This has led to some severe limitations in what can be done for budgeting in organizations still exclusively relying on Excel.  And, due to the economic climate and the general desire to improve overall financial performance, the budget process has become “mission critical".  This has left these organizations with a less-than-optimal process that has become a sore point to management, end users or budget managers and the financial team itself. 

Here are some limitations with Excel and the problems that this causes:

  • Excel is not a database – which results in hours of manual data management by the finance department.
  • Excel is not a programming or development environment – resulting in a very weak application with severe limitations and greatly expanding the possibility of errors.
  • Excel requires lots of manual data entry.  Often data needs to be re-keyed into other spreadsheets for reporting or other purposes.  This redundancy creates version control issues and many hours of manual effort from resources best used elsewhere.
  • Excel is not flexible for budget preparation for users.  Users are often limited to simple data entry as opposed to allowing for different accounts to be budgeted using different methods on a department-by-department basis.
  • Consolidation of the budget is cumbersome. 
  • Version control is difficult.  So finance has to try to manually manage versions – and version comparison is exceptionally cumbersome.
  • Excel offers no audit trails or workflow.  Therefore it is not apparent when things have changed or been approved – and approved by whom.
  • Excel has limited security and is prone to formula errors.  There is no user security and locked cells can be easily overwritten or even erased. 
  • Excel is not loved by non-financial people.  Financial people love Excel, but non-financial people do not.  So, the original concept of using a product that everyone knows and loves is lost on the budget manager.

But, does this mean that there is no role left for this very popular tool?  Absolutely not.  Excel can still play an important role in budgeting if it is seamlessly woven into a dedicated, specialized budget solution AND it is used for the things that it was designed to be used for. 

First and foremost, there needs to be a bi-directional link between Excel and the budget system where Excel is dynamically talking to the application database.  Rekeying of data should never be required.  Secondly, Excel is a very good two-dimensional calculator (rows and columns), is brilliant at analytical functionality, can be outstanding for formatting output and, in the right hands (finance) can be exceptional for pivot tables and multi-dimensional analysis.  If the financial team views themselves as Excel experts, this group should try to take advantage of their love and knowledge of Excel – but without forcing that knowledge and love affair on the budgeting end-users or trying to have Excel handle the heavy lifting of the application.  So to summarize, here are some things where you can and should use Excel but only if dynamically attached to an application that possesses budget intelligence and requires no re-keying of information. 

  • Excel is a good two-dimensional calculator for some calculations.  So, financial people can still use the calculation functionality, especially for more simplistic and customized calculations without learning another product.
  • Excel is a good analytical tool.  Financial people still love Excel and want to be able to perform financial analysis functions in it.
  • Excel is great at formatting output or reports (but not managing data).  There is no better way to lay out customized or ad-hoc report formats than the visual capabilities of Excel.  If the report can be built in Excel, but populated from a secure application and database, you can get the best of both worlds. 
  • Excel is great at pivot tables.  Sometimes, organizations want to slice and dice data but not buy expensive and difficult to maintain multi-dimensional separate applications.  Excel offers similar capabilities for the experienced user without the expense and/or maintenance.  Why not utilize what you already know?

Finding the right balance of how and where to use Excel in any organization is the trick.  You need to analyze your own internal skill set and then determine how much you choose to utilize your knowledge of Excel within the budgeting, forecasting and variance reporting and analysis processes.  Doing this, allows you to leverage your existing knowledge and prevents you from having to learn some vendors unique way of doing something that you already know how (and love) to do anyway.  Plus it can eliminate high cost and low utilization of foreign products. 

Excel…it can be the foe of the budget process if left to it’s own devices and a friend if it is used properly within the confines of a packaged budget application that has budget intelligence woven in. 

XLerant is a SaaS software solutions company that builds and implements innovative, practical and incredibly powerful browser-based budget preparation software for mid-sized and large organizations and higher education institutions, energizing a "Culture of Budget Accountability" among users. The company serves customers in several industries. XLerant's premier budgeting and planning application, BudgetPak, replaces spreadsheet-based budgeting and provides maximum user flexibility and financial controls. Improved communication, greater ownership of the numbers and increased transparency enable companies to better manage financial performance throughout the fiscal year.

Seducing Users to Improve the Budget Process

  
  
  
  
  
  

seduce istock purchased resized 600In today’s world of software, people are used to being seduced by personal applications that make things simplistic…like Google or Facebook. They now expect that business software will follow suit.

Wikipedia defines seduction as the process of deliberately enticing, corrupting, persuading, or inducing a person to engage in behavior. The word seduction stems from Latin and means literally "to lead astray". As a result, the term may have a positive or negative connotation.

Seen positively, and in colloquial terms, seduction is a synonym for the act of charming someone by appealing to the senses, often with the goal of reducing unfounded fears. And as all financial teams well know – budget time can generate fear among constituents!

So what does it take to seduce your users into the budget system – to appeal to their senses and reduce fears? Well, let’s learn from some practical examples. Let’s take Turbo-Tax, maybe the world’s most popular business application.

  • Don’t duplicate the current process. Revolutionize the process. If they simply put the tax forms online, it would not have been very effective at seducing the users.
  • Have the software ask the user questions in order to come up with the solution.
  • Make the software work the way the user thinks about the problem, not the way the domain expert or the programmer thinks about the problem.
  • Put the damn thing in the cloud. Why are you still managing applications internally?
  • Have the software speak the language of the user.
  • Make interfaces to other applications simple and under the control of the users (General ledger, payroll or HR and Fixed Asset).
  • Package the functionality that the user needs so that the job can be done efficiently and effectively. KISS. Don’t over-engineer with worthless functionality that no one can or will use.

Too many organizations focus on the needs of the wrong constituency (finance only) and/or over-engineer the process with too much functionality that will never be used by constituents, or the organization overall – but which looks good on paper or in RFP checklists. (They also pay excessive fees to do this.) Functionality is no longer the key to success in business applications; USABILITY is the key to success in business applications…and the key to successfully seducing end-users.

Organizations should focus on the functionality that improves usability, including:

  • Turbo-Tax like interface to keep the overall interface simple.
  • Situational Budgeting - allowing users to budget accounts flexibly the way they think about these accounts.
  • Provide simple and easy ways to provide documentation, justification and notes on any account so that users can explain what they want and why they want it.
  • Specialized functionality for salary and asset planning.
  • Spreading algorithms to create monthly values for the budget that match real-world needs.
  • Workflow and approval process to have total visibility into where everyone is and to easily track and manage and audit approvals.
  • Simplistic reporting to quickly and easily answer questions and handle variance analysis.
  • Pragmatic “What-if” to capture the most meaningful and most common what-if questions that users want.
  • Watch box to allow users to simply monitor their budget assumptions during budget creation and compare that to historical values.

Simply stated – users will put up with less crap today than they used to with respect to business applications. Therefore, they need to be encouraged…or seduced.

Learn more about the XLerant philosophy engaging users and the key features that improve usability for the budget process.

XLerant is a SaaS software solutions company that builds and implements innovative, practical and incredibly powerful browser-based budget preparation software for mid-sized and large organizations and higher education institutions, energizing a "Culture of Budget Accountability" among users. The company serves customers in several industries. XLerant's premier budgeting and planning application, BudgetPak, replaces spreadsheet-based budgeting and provides maximum user flexibility and financial controls. Improved communication, greater ownership of the numbers and increased transparency enable companies to better manage financial performance throughout the fiscal year.

Reverse Engineering the Budget Process

  
  
  
  
  
  

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Reverse engineering (the process of starting with a product and taking it apart to see how it works) has been used in product development for decades. Many organizations use this as a best practice in copying some key product or concept from a competitor. When applied to a process, it is the practice of starting with the end-game (what you ultimately want to achieve) and then determining what it would take to reach that end-game or result. It can be a valuable exercise in improving a broken or flawed process.

Budgeting has become “mission critical” in most organizations that are serious about financial performance, cost control and making sure that they fund the strategy of the organization as opposed to budgeting to history or politics. Budgeting is currently a very flawed process.

Reverse engineering can be easily applied to this “mission critical” process as well. One only need imagine what a desired budget process would entail and then attempt to come up with a plan for how to achieve it.

For instance, in a desired world:

  • Managers would not have to know very much about either systems or budgeting in order to create a meaningful budget.
  • Managers would be actively engaged in the budget process and have ownership of the numbers and the results.
  • Managers would have the freedom and flexibility to budget their departments the way they think about those departments.
  • Monthly values would be easily calculated for each annual number based on user controlled decisions about that number.
  • There would be specific functionality to handle the complexity of salary/headcount planning and benefits; and managers would be able to easily request specific asset purchases for the following fiscal year. In both cases the process would properly account for both the people and the assets, and provide clear visibility for the plan going forward – without any additional work.
  • Managers could easily prepare and review budgets from anywhere.
  • Approval workflow and audit trails would be automatically and easily applied to the process.
  • Errors would be eliminated or dramatically reduced in the preparation process.
  • All assumptions, documentation and justification of numbers would be easily applied – and this documentation would follow the numbers throughout the approval and reporting process.
  • There would be no redundant data entry.
  • Consolidation would occur naturally.
  • The budget process would be electronically integrated with the general ledger, payroll and fixed asset systems to provide proper data flow.
  • All budget questions could be easily addressed through flexible, and easy to maintain, reporting and analysis.
  • Structured and practical “what-if’s” that address 90% of user needs would be easily incorporated.
  • The process would easily accommodate updates to the budget throughout the evolving fiscal year--to deal with the actual results and reality of budget adjustments based on real-life events.

When you start with what you want to have happen and then seek solutions to address those criteria, building a better budget process becomes remarkably easy. Understanding the needs of all the major constituents in the budget process is another key to success. These constituencies are management, finance, department heads and IT.

However, one critical mistake that many organizations make is they focus on features rather than results. And they start (and end) with a list of features that deals only with the needs of finance, and not the desired outcomes for budget managers or the organization’s management. This leads to an overly complex and theoretical RFP process, or a checklist process that ignores the central issues of budgeting. And this leads to feature fights without regard to the usability or even the practicality of the feature – and also without regard to the usability or practicality of the system in general. Often, a long list of features that will NEVER actually be put into use is what sways financial teams.

The most important constituent in the budget process is not finance, nor even management. To build a better budget process, you need to first consider the needs of the department heads. Most of the current problems with budgeting are that the department head’s needs are not properly accounted for - but when they are, ease of use, flexibility, ability to document their assumptions and justify their requests, and helping them understand what they are trying to accomplish with the budget become the primary drivers. If budgeting is a financial function, why are 80% to 90% of the users non-financial people? And, budgeting is as much a communications process as it is a financial one.

So beginning with complaints or needs of constituents can be enormously valuable. Here are the results of what a recent survey said about the primary complaints of these constituents about their current budget process. It is important to note that the vast majority of respondents worked in organizations that used Microsoft Excel for budgeting:

Management

  • The budget does not tie to the organizational strategy.
  • I can’t get my questions answered in a timely fashion.
  • The process takes too long.
  • I worry about quality of information.
Finance
  • Department heads don’t put sufficient time and energy into their budgets.
  • I worry about errors (formulas) and redundant data entry.
  • I don’t want to be an Excel programmer or manually manage data.
  • Department heads keep changing budget templates.
Department Heads
  • The budget templates don’t let me budget my department the way I think about my department.
  • The process is too cumbersome and rigid.
  • I don’t feel like the numbers are mine.
IT
  • I don’t like Excel-based processes.
  • There’s no structured data management, audit trails, checks.
  • I don't want to manage another system... would prefer if this moved to the cloud.

In support of the need to focus on the usability needs of department heads, consider some quotes from a recent WSJ article on business applications:

At a time when people are accustomed to using well-designed applications from companies such as Google Inc. and Apple Inc. in their personal lives, they have little patience for workplace applications that leave them confused. Functionality is no longer the definition of success. Usability is key.

"Basically, users will accept less crap today, when it comes to software," says Michael Krigsman, an independent industry analyst. "That is because the world of consumer software has become easy and simple to use and has trained users to expect that business software will follow a similar model. And if it doesn't, people are much less patient than they were in the past."

Reverse engineering the budget process is an excellent way of ensuring that you radically improve the process going forward. But taking the primary needs of ALL BUDGET USERS into consideration and including the most important constituents into the reverse engineering process is essential to success.

Building a better budget process for better financial results can be an easy and inexpensive process in most organizations if the organization has the motivation, confidence and discipline to do so.

To learn more about best practices that will improve your budgeting process download our ebook: The 10 Commandments of Budgeting.

XLerant is a SaaS software solutions company that builds and implements innovative, practical and incredibly powerful browser-based budget preparation software for mid-sized and large organizations and higher education institutions, energizing a "Culture of Budget Accountability" among users. The company serves customers in several industries. XLerant's premier budgeting and planning application, BudgetPak, replaces spreadsheet-based budgeting and provides maximum user flexibility and financial controls. Improved communication, greater ownership of the numbers and increased transparency enable companies to better manage financial performance throughout the fiscal year.

“Actual Results May Vary” – The Art of Forecasting

  
  
  
  
  
  

Most organizations budget. They may not budget well, but at least they try. The budget process is the funding of the next 12 months of the strategic plan. It sets financial targets for revenue and expenses and it (hopefully) lays out how each area of the company will support the company strategy.

But is it sufficient to prepare a fixed budget and then not do it again for a whole year? In most cases, probably not. “Actual results may vary." Budgeting is a process that often requires adjustment as the fiscal year unfolds and reality takes shape.

This is where The Art of Forecasting comes in. Forecasting is the process of marrying actual results, for the months available, with the budget and then making adjustments to revenue and expenses for the remaining months to fine-tune the funding plan of the strategy. This can mean a more aggressive plan, a less aggressive plan, reacting to changing variables, or staying the course based on the reality and the type of business that an organization is in.

But getting managers to prepare a good budget can be difficult. Getting them to re-forecast and repeat the process on a regular basis takes special care. Department managers generally do not enjoy the forecasting process and therefore view it as a chore that does not add value. The reasons for this are:

  • Most organizations still try to do budgeting and forecasting using Microsoft Excel templates. These templates are rigid and are designed for the way financial people think – not the way operations people think. So the templates do not let these people budget their departments the way they think about their departments.

  • The process of marrying together the actual results with the remaining months of budgets is not an easy task.

  • It is cumbersome to make adjustments to the budget numbers.

  • Version control is difficult.

  • Reporting is inflexible and cumbersome so comparative versions are not easily accessible.

In order to facilitate a better forecasting process, organizations require features and usability that Excel simply does not provide.  These are:

  • An easy way to marry actual account balance results from the general ledger with the original budget so that there is an established baseline for the forecast.

  • A Turbo-Tax-like interface that walks the manager through the process without them having to learn how to prepare a forecast.

  • The ability of the manager to choose whether to freeze the original budget totals (so that the actual results cause the budget numbers to automatically adjust, by month, and holding the original total amounts the same – spreading the remaining available balances over the remaining months of the forecast) or simply allowing the totals to recalculate and replace the monthly balances in the budget with the actual results.
    Powerful spreading algorithms.

  • Version control and workflow to allow the forecasting process, and the approval of the forecasted numbers, to happen quickly and easily.

  • Reporting that allows comparative reporting for forecast to budget, by account and totals, so that managers can easily see and adjust numbers appropriately.
    Documentation and justification notes on all numbers.

The budgeting process in organizations is “directional”.  As pointed out above, “actual results may vary”.  So course correction is critical as reality unfolds. 

Done properly, the forecasting process can be an immensely powerful and useful process in organizations in all industries to keep it on course.  It allows organizations to have a fresher view of their funding plans for the strategic plan across the remainder of the fiscal year.  It keeps managers focused on how they plan to utilize their remaining resources based on what has already happened in the organization YTD.  And, it keeps the planning process fresh and alive. But it cannot be done well in any organization unless the process is supported  for the managers responsible for the forecasting process. 

To learn more about how to effectively do this in an organization, click here to view the recording of our webinar, “The Art of Forecasting… A Pragmatic Case Study."

You will hear Dan Brent of the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology discuss his institution’s use of forecasting to improve financial performance. 

XLerant is a SaaS software solutions company that builds and implements innovative, practical and incredibly powerful browser-based budget preparation software for mid-sized and large organizations and higher education institutions, energizing a "Culture of Budget Accountability" among users. The company serves customers in several industries. XLerant's premier budgeting and planning application, BudgetPak, replaces spreadsheet-based budgeting and provides maximum user flexibility and financial controls. Improved communication, greater ownership of the numbers and increased transparency enable companies to better manage financial performance throughout the fiscal year.

What Motivates Organizations to Abandon Excel Budgeting?

  
  
  
  
  
  

motivation to switch from excel to budgetpak resized 600

Budgeting, planning and forecasting are “mission critical” applications in most organizations today. A poor budgeting process is the number one reason why organizations miss their numbers. Implementing a process that appeals both to the financial organization, officially responsible for the budget, and the department heads, who own the results is hugely difficult. Poor capabilities from ERP systems have caused most organizations to rely heavily on Microsoft Excel for budgeting, planning and forecasting. But Excel is a simplistic two-dimensional spreadsheet versus a product with built in “budget intelligence”, is not a product development environment, is not a database and therefore requires much manual data management and is not flexible enough to deal with the budget preparation needs of the actual users.

So, organizations, and the financial professionals in them, are now seeking solutions to this Excel dilemma. They want a sophisticated application that appeals to the department heads and allows them to spend their time analyzing the numbers, not programming or managing data or checking for errors or manually keying data into shadow spreadsheets.

A survey was recently conducted on these organizations and seven fundamental reasons surfaced as to why organizations made this critical switch to a best-of-breed solution. These issues were:

  • Time spent maintaining spreadsheets
  • Lack of budget audit trails, budget workflow and budget approval process. 
  • Lack of proper user interface and flexibility in budget preparation process for department heads
  • Redundant data entry into multiple spreadsheets
  • Lack of flexible reporting for the budget process and the management reporting process
  • Concerns about errors in the budget process due to clobbering formulas or data entry or other issues
  • Lack of participation in and ownership of the numbers by department managers. 
The solution to this issue is an application specifically focused on the budgeting, forecasting and reporting process. Key criteria in selection of a system are:
  • Cloud-based computing to minimize cost and IT involvement and to increase flexibility
  • Focus on a user interface that appeals to the department heads. This is more of a Turbo-Tax like approach to organizational budgeting and away from Excel look-alike products
  • Specific functionality to build a budget that lets department heads budget their departments the way they think about their departments
  • A system that is simple to install and maintain that does not require programming or syntax or special knowledge
  • Simple integration with key transaction systems like the GL, payroll or HR system, and fixed asset system
  • Software acquisition costs (keep at a minimum)

Of these capabilities the key recommendation of people in organizations who licensed a new budget process was to focus on the needs of 95% of the users of budgeting…the department heads. A recent WSJ article on business software supported this idea. In it, the author writes:

“At a time when people are accustomed to using well-designed applications from companies such as Google Inc. and Apple Inc. in their personal lives, they have little patience for workplace applications that leave them confused. Functionality is no longer the definition of success. Usability is key.”

And here's what one client recently said about the usability of XLerant's BudgetPak solution:

“Creating spreadsheet budgets is not the best use of our finance team’s time, but until we found BudgetPak, it was necessary. Our team was able to master the budget set-up tools in BudgetPak with very little training and with the XLerant product in place, we can now spend time focusing on higher value tasks. What we love about XLerant is it gives our managers the tools to transform their department-specific knowledge into a budget they can understand and own.”

Read more of what clients have to say about BudgetPak

When it comes to technology…Keep It Simple Stupid. This is especially true if you need to get the buy-in from non-financial people in the process.

 

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XLerant is a SaaS software solutions company that builds and implements innovative, practical and incredibly powerful browser-based budget preparation software for mid-sized and large organizations and higher education institutions, energizing a "Culture of Budget Accountability" among users. The company serves customers in several industries. XLerant's premier budgeting and planning application, BudgetPak, replaces spreadsheet-based budgeting and provides maximum user flexibility and financial controls. Improved communication, greater ownership of the numbers and increased transparency enable companies to better manage financial performance throughout the fiscal year.

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