Microsoft Forecaster was a great tool for companies with relatively simple budgeting and forecasting needs. Now that Microsoft Forecaster is discontinued, many companies are actively looking for a sophisticated FP&A (Financial Planning & Analysis) tool that can handle the complexities of operating a global enterprise.
How do you accurately forecast the future of your business? The typical process involves pulling historical numbers, then layering in adjustment factors – price / cost changes, new product lines, etc. Planning typically takes place at the various levels of the organization’s hierarchy – the cost center, the store, the department, and the numbers get rolled up to corporate.
Typical Financial and Operational Planning Models include:
- Operational Expenditure (OPEX)
- Production plan – Quantities/ Cost of Production/ COGS
- Sales Forecast – units/ price/ revenue
- Capacity Planning – compare to production plan to determine surplus/ shortfall
- HR/ Workforce planning
- Inventory planning
- P&L / Balance Sheet/ Cashflow
Budgeting Beyond the Capabilities of CRM or ERP Software
While a company may use the data from CRM or ERP, forecasting and budgeting is best done in an external system. Without a viable alternative, the budgeting team frequently ends up living in Microsoft Excel for weeks or even months at a time.
The Problem with Excel for Budgeting
We love Excel, but it has limitations. With so many people involved in the planning process, organizations often opt for simple calculation, which can be wildly inaccurate. Most of the time and energy goes into figuring out how to consolidate so many business units into a single business view, rather than finding the right levers to impact results.
Moving to a True FP&A Solution
MCA Connect developed an FP&A Solution that provides both operational and financial forecasting, built on one consolidated data warehouse, with easy reporting and dashboards delivered by Power BI and SSRS. Our FP&A solution delivers powerful spreading options for input and simplifies the data collection process, reducing budget cycles by weeks, or even months.
Top 3 Advantages of MCA Connect’s FP&A Solution
- The planning process becomes much simpler, more automated and repeatable, which gives companies an opportunity to create forecasts more frequently, providing greater accuracy.
- The insights are more reliable because the data is validated and pulled live “in real time” from the source line of business systems (Dynamics 365, ERP, CRM and even other databases and spreadsheets).
- Operational forecasts and financial forecasts are inter-related, allowing departments to respond to each other’s forecasts. For example, as the sales manager changes the sales forecast, the production manager can adjust the demand and production plans, which may then trigger HR to adjust salaries or headcount forecasts.
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Author: David Bence, Director- FP&A