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The Resource Group

Frustrated with the Excel Budgeting Process? Microsoft Forecaster can help.

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by Denise Hawes, Implementation Consultant, The Resource Group

Excel is no doubt the most widely used budgeting tool for small to midsized businesses.  Let’s face it -   no one likes to budget, but it is a necessary evil for most organizations, especially in a down economy.  In fact, more and more organizations that I work with are looking at doing revised forecasts on a regular basis due to constantly changing market conditions.  As a result, the pains of using Excel as their budgeting tool increases with every budget revision or forecast that they need. 

Top complaints I hear from Excel budget administrators:

  • Difficult to consolidate data:  Hours, days or even weeks can be spent in the process of consolidating budget spreadsheets from individual budget managers.  Until that process is complete, they don’t even know what the total company budget numbers look like.  Then, if a revision is needed, the process starts all over again.
  • Hard to track versions: Manual consolidation means that keeping track of the most current spreadsheet from a given budget manager can be a nightmare.
  • Time consuming to create templates year after year:  With Excel as the budgeting tool, a copy can be made from last year’s spreadsheet template, but any changes in the budget model can require significant time to update the templates.  And watch out for breaking any links between sheets!
  • Hard to do ‘What if’ scenarios:  Because of the difficulty with consolidating data, tracking versions and creating new templates, doing multiple ‘what if scenarios’ becomes a pipe dream.
  • Data isn’t secure:  To top things off, the valuable budget data is being stored in a spreadsheet somewhere on a network, where it could easily be lost or get corrupted.

The good news for Microsoft Dynamics GP customers is that Microsoft Forecaster can alleviate the Excel budgeting pains.  Forecaster is a SQL based budgeting and planning solution that helps you to budget more efficiently and accurately.  It creates a collaborative environment for users, regardless of their geographic location, by allowing access to custom budget templates via a web client or a local client installation.  When clients move from Excel to Forecaster, I consistently hear the same reasons why.

Top reasons customers switch form Excel budgeting to Microsoft Forecaster:

  • Automated Consolidation:   With Forecaster, all of your budget data is captured in a centralized SQL database, so consolidation of the information is automatic.  You can review your budget numbers anytime during the budgeting process by simply clicking on a report and selecting the consolidation of data that you would like to view.
  • Automatic Audit Trail:  Forecaster automatically captures the details of every change made to a budget.  It captures the date, time, user, method and amount of each and every change, line item by line item.  No more finger pointing about who came up with that budget number.  The answer is just a click away.
  • Easy ‘What if’ Scenarios:  Forecaster provides a Copy Plan Wizard which will copy all setup configuration and data from your current budget into a new ‘What if’ scenario.  Creating your new ‘What if’ takes minutes instead of hours.  It also goes a step farther and provides for easy top down adjustments to a range of accounts and cost centers by either a dollar amount or a percentage.
  • Detailed HR Budgeting:  Forecaster includes a Human Resources module that allows you to budget wages, taxes and benefits at the individual employee level via simple setup and import of your employees.
  • Detailed Revenue Modeling:  Forecaster has a Revenue module that allows for budgeting revenue at whatever detail level you need:  Markets, Products, Customers, etc.  You name it.

If you are a Microsoft Dynamics GP customer with a Business Ready Advanced Management license, you already own Microsoft Forecaster!  In fact, you have the same number of user licenses that you have for Microsoft Dynamics GP, and they do not need to be the same list of users who use Dynamics GP.  So if you are ready to leave your Excel budgeting frustrations behind, contact The Resource Group or your Dynamics GP Partner and discuss implementing Forecaster as your budgeting tool. 

by Denise Hawes, Implementation Consultant, The Resource Group – Seattle, Washington Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner

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