Budgeting & Financial Reporting Software – Top Features in 2020

There are countless budgeting, forecasting, and financial reporting software solutions…

Many solutions cater to a specific niche and many solutions are designed to “fit-all”. Your industry, requirements and application stacks (accounting, ERP, etc.) should heavily factor into identifying the solution that fits your organization best.

Here are the features/requirements that you should expect to see in Budgeting, Forecasting and Financial Reporting solutions in 2020 and forward…

Budgeting / Forecasting ⛭

  1. Templates
    • Standardization is key when completing budgeting, especially on a large scale w/ multiple groups–>users involved. Solutions will provide the ability to create budget “templates” which can be shared with multiple groups and roll into reports correctly.
  2. Transaction-Level Detail
    • Budgeting at the general ledger-level & leaving all detail in another system is not enough. Look for the ability to maintain your calculations (detail) in the solution which becomes useful for reporting and future re-budgeting purposes.
  3. Budget Calculations
    • Calculating your current fiscal year budget based on last year’s budget, last year’s actual, etc. assists in creating budgets however frequent your organization desires.

Financial Reporting 📊

  1. Robust Report Building Tool
    • It’s not a Financial Reporting tool without a GREAT report building tool. Look for ease of use, think of long-term maintenance, potential training issues, etc. All solutions will claim you can build any report imaginable but always ensure that’s the case and ensure the logic behind the builder will suit your organization.
  2. Alerts
    • Creeping up on budgeted expenses? Reach your gross sales goals a month early? These are metrics that you should be on top of and expect your solution to provide you with the ability to create alerts.
  3. Charts & Graphs
    • These aren’t your father’s financial reports anymore. Graphs, charts & other visualization options go a long way for certain groups of users.
  4. Financial Packages
    • Depending on the size, complexity, location, etc., financial packages can sometimes exceed hundreds of reports. Look for your solution to offer…
      1. The grouping of reports within the solution
      2. The ability to add external reports, documents, data to the “financial package” (say your payroll reports come from another solution).
      3. The ability to publish and/or print the entire financial package quickly.

Accounting 💲

  1. Multiple Charts of Accounts Formats
    • Not all organizations have the luxury of handing a standardized chart of accounts.  Solutions are aware of this and offerings have grown to ensure multiple COA formats will still work well together.
  2. Multi-Currency
    • Mo currencies mo problems. Some solutions handle multiple currencies perfectly & more solutions are likely to follow suit in providing this functionality.

Integrations 🔗

  1. Accounting Solution
    • Solutions have technical partnerships with many of the main accounting / ERP solutions. Check to ensure there is a 2-way integration with your accounting app and if not, discuss the process thoroughly on how the two solutions will connect.
  2. Real-Time Integration
    • Expect to post transactions in your applications & then immediately see the impact in your reporting solution? Keep this requirement in mind.
  3. Scheduled Integration
    • Don’t need real-time but still don’t want to kick-off integrations between systems manually? Ensure the solutions provides the ability to schedule integrations based on your preferred schedule.
  4. Integration Flexibility
    • With budgeting/financial reporting solutions, there are numerous potential integrating sources (accounting, payroll, fixed assets, inventory, etc.). Solutions should provide flexible & easy to set up incoming/outgoing integration capabilities.

Add-On Modules ➕

Want to do away with some existing solutions or don’t ones in place that you know you should? Consider a budgeting/financial reporting solution that also includes some of the following add-on modules or capabilities…

  1. Sales Forecasting
  2. Workforce Planning
  3. Payroll Planning
  4. Capital Asset Planning

Deployment ☁️

  1. On-Prem
    • Do your research before on if on-prem or cloud offerings make more sense for your organizations. Budgeting, Forecasting and/or Financial Reporting solutions will continue offering both.
  2. Cloud
  3. Use via Mobile Devices
    • Want to access your solution on the go?
  4. Excel-Connection
    • There is a “Great Divide” when it comes to Excel and FP&A. Some organizations cannot live without it whilst others cannot get far enough away from it. Therefore, there are solutions on both sides of the coin. Some solutions are built on top of Excel & essentially extend functionality that already exists.  Other solutions are more traditional & stand-alone applications. There are pros/cons to each, do your research and dig deep when looking at solutions.

Security 🔒

  1. Prevent Drill-Down
    • Want to prevent high-level users from seeing too much detail and asking too many questions? Seek security in a few different areas, particularly the ability to drill-down on certain areas.
  2. Consolidated Reporting w/ Security Implemented
    • Have a large reporting environment (multiple tenants, departments, companies, locations, etc.). In a perfect reporting world, you’d be able to set up as few reports as possible and apply security to ensure users only see their piece of the pie. Consolidated reports & security make long-term maintenance much more obtainable.

Miscellaneous 📰

  1. Ad-Hoc Reporting
    • Financial report building is great when its known which reports are going to be needed month-in & month-out. Ad-hoc report however provides the user with the ability to slice and formulate data as needed and on their own. Some solutions provide both financial report building & ad-hoc reporting tools.
  2. Drill-In to Detail
    • The ability to drill into both the detailed budget info and the detail actual info should be considered as a requirement. If it exists & users would like to see that information, it should likely be viewable.
  3. Workflows
    • Should budgets be approved by managers before being submitted to accounting? Should changes to existing budgets have to receive additional approvals? Flexible approval workflows should be a fairly prevalent feature in solutions.

Remember that missed requirements/features are the highest contributing factor (~71%) to software implementation failures*. Be thorough with your requirements (in more detail than just checking the box that the feature exists), work closely with the solution vendors to ensure there is a fit, and ensure you have the best solution that fits your business.

What requirements/features do you expect to see in your 2020 Budgeting, Forecasting & Financial Reporting software solution?


*Source: What Leads to Software Implementation Successes/Failures | Solugence Market Research Results 2019

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