Automatic Spreading Function in Budgeting

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This article focuses on budgeting software, particularly the automatic spreading functionality.

Budgeting software is one of the most basic tools for handling your money. Think about all of the time and energy your organization allotted to budgeting. If you are working toward a financial goal or you are working with limited money, finding a simple way to budget will benefit you at both a personal and corporate level. In this article, we will be covering the first topic of our budgeting series where I will be focusing on an important feature called automatic spreading.

budgeting with automatic spreading

Microsoft Excel is easy to use because of how prevalent it has been, but as mentioned in previous articles, Excel can only handle so much. The application was not designed to be a data warehouse (DW). If you are punching in your data manually, there is a solution for you.

Let’s get into the benefits of automatic spreading or “seeding.” As a functionality, automatic spreading makes budgeting quicker, convenient when using budgeting applications that have Excel add-ins, easier to enter your data with its default templates, and it also saves you time by copying data from the previous year. Surprisingly, many organizations do not know that this tool even exists.

The automatic spreading function allows the user to stretch a value that is typed into a period of time, usually 12 months. Depending on what the user defines, the user can evenly spread a value over each quarter, season, or any default period of time based off of the previous years’ trend. For instance, if you are using an “even” spreading functionality, type in ’24,000’, and set it to 12 months of budgeting, the function will automatically place “2,000” into each cell versus the user having to type it in manually. “Seeding” rules are often used to build a baseline data for estimating and forecasting or to create a starting point from which to view data. For example, a forecast can be seeded with budget information for the same period or seeded with actual information from the prior time period. If you are more of a visual person, a tool like this sometimes comes with graphs so you are able to see trends and also compare your year-to-date actuals to next year’s graph. Your business will come up with an annual baseline budget and then, automatically spread that based on historical trends. This function is usually found in the budgeting application.  There is also a way to modify and adjust manually, but automatic spreading is an effective way to come up with a starting budget or forecast.

Like most things in the modern world, budgeting has moved to the web. Web-based budgeting is relatively newer, and users can access data and budgets from anywhere they connect to the Internet. Web-based budgeting continues to build momentum now with some tools offering direct write-back to select Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems such as Microsoft Dynamics ERPs.

To continue learning more about automatic spreading, read the rest of this article here.

by Solver

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