Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Should you Implement a Modern Workflow System in your Budgeting Process?


Budgeting Workflow is the process of formalizing the flow of budgeting approvals throughout the organization. It is a process in itself that typically starts with corporate allocations for the new budgeting year. The workflow outlines who in the organization is responsible for approving specific sections of the budget. Modern budgeting workflow systems allow management to assign budgeting tasks to certain employees. Once those employees enter their budget numbers, they are then submitted to the next person in the workflow process for approval. This process moves forward until the budget is finally approved by the person responsible for the entire company’s budget. This is typically an executive, or group of executives within the organization. Continue reading this post>>


Don’t Rely on Spreadsheets: Essential Tools for Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting


aberdeen-group-guest-postIn my role as the Senior Research Analyst in the Aberdeen Group’s Business Planning and Execution research practice, I spend a significant amount of time studying the key pressures facing organizations in their planning processes as well as the key technologies that top performing organizations use. Unsurprisingly, I often get questions on the role of spreadsheets in the planning process. Spreadsheets continue to be a popular tool used in financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes. In fact, Aberdeen’s 2013 Financial Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting Benchmark survey found that 89% of organizations use spreadsheets in the planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes. Employees are comfortable with spreadsheets because many of them use them in both their professional and personal lives. This familiarity makes it unsurprising that both top performing and Laggard organizations are employing them in some aspect of their financial planning process. This reliance may stay the norm for the foreseeable future and spreadsheets are likely to continue to be an integral part of the planning process.

Yet while the Best-in-Class may be using spreadsheets as a part of the planning process, they are less reliant on them as the sole means of communication and interaction, preferring to combine them with the use of applications (Figure 1). Being a repository of exported data is in fact the leading role spreadsheets play in top performing companies. As the methods in which spreadsheets are used become more manual, the Best-in-Class and the Laggards switch rankings…

Continue reading this post >>


BI for SMBs: Answers to Your FAQs – Part 3


Data Management_arcplanData Management & the Continued Use of Excel

Small and medium-sized businesses aren’t able to afford business intelligence software platforms that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, that’s no longer an obstacle with the rise of affordable, easy to use BI tools like arcplan. Once you’ve decided that you need better, faster answers to your business questions, you start to get into the nitty gritty details of what a BI deployment means and how you need to prepare your data. Let’s continue with our series on the most frequently asked questions SMBs have when it comes to BI. This time I’ll address questions about data management and spreadsheets.

5) How much data do we need?

The #1 technology challenge for SMBs is getting insight from the data they already have. The average SMB has over 27 unique data sources according to research conducted by The Aberdeen Group – from ERP systems and General Ledgers to CRM tools, social media and more. Your company should carefully consider the amount, type, and “freshness” of data that your organization requires for its reporting.

Ask yourself:

  • How many data sources are really critical to our decision-making?
  • Do we need real-time data access or will daily or weekly updates do the job?
  • How far back do we need to go? Do we need 5-year-old data or is only recent data important?

Continue reading this post >>


Webinar Recording: Beyond Excel for BI


In case you missed our webinar on 11/2, Beyond Excel for BI, here’s the recording to view at your convenience:


We discussed why people love and hate Excel, often at the same time; how you know you’ve outgrown your spreadsheet-based analysis or planning model; how BI augments your current efforts; the benefits of Excel add-ins; and a case study of a customer who eliminated the collection of 150 cost center spreadsheets per month. We also showed a Financial Briefing Book BI application that integrates the best things about Excel, while ensuring data security, allowing write-back to the database, eliminating manual work, and enabling scheduled distribution of reports.

We had a great turn-out and the audience asked a lot of questions. Thanks to everyone who attended, and for those who didn’t, let us know if you’d like to discuss anything you see in the recording.


Free BI Webinar – Beyond Excel for BI


Join arcplan Wednesday, November 2nd at 2pm Eastern for Beyond Excel for BI to learn how business intelligence software can augment your analysis and planning efforts without completely abandoning spreadsheets.

Analysts and financial planners love their spreadsheets. And why not? They make it easy to tweak reports, employ formulas, and massage your data. In fact, spreadsheets are the most often used technology in 60% of organizations surveyed by Ventana Research in August 2011. They have become an indispensable tool for calculations, modeling, analysis, and planning.

But Excel is not necessarily the best choice for every scenario. If you think you’ve outgrown your spreadsheet model, or you’re encountering more and more situations where Excel is failing to meet your needs, then it’s time to think about the next step – business intelligence software.

BI that embraces Excel users is possible. If you’re considering making the move to BI software and want to know the pros and cons, this webinar is designed for you.

In this webinar, we will:

  • Discuss how BI software can augment your current analysis and planning efforts
  • Present a case study of a global organization that moved from spreadsheets to BI and show you its ROI analysis
  • Demonstrate a BI system with a familiar spreadsheet interface that allows data entry, write-back, secure distribution of reports, and more
  • Give you proven arguments you can take to a) your executives to gain support for BI and b) your team to gain the support of current Excel users

Your analytic technology needs to provide you many things: direct access to your source data, the ability to take action, the quick generation of presentations and other reports, and easy navigation and drill-down to name a few. Join us on November 2nd to learn how these (completely reasonable) requests can be fulfilled by BI, without leaving Excel completely behind.

Date: Wednesday, November 2
Time: 2:00 pm Eastern (New York City time zone)
Presenter: Mark Flyamer, Senior Solutions Manager
Register: Click here