10 Limitations of Excel for budgeting and Forecasting

10 Limitations of Excel for budgeting and Forecasting

As businesses evolve, the tools we use must evolve with them. For CFOs, one of the longstanding staples for budgeting and forecasting has been Microsoft Excel. While Excel is undoubtedly powerful and flexible, it’s not without its limitations—especially when it comes to handling the complexities of modern financial forecasting. Here’s why it might be time to consider alternatives.

1. Hitting the Scalability Ceiling Excel struggles when data grows, which is often the case in a flourishing business. Handling massive datasets or linking numerous spreadsheets can slow down processes and introduce inefficiencies that no company can afford in today’s fast-paced market.

2. A Breeding Ground for Errors The freedom that Excel offers can be a double-edged sword. Complex formulas are prone to errors, and even a tiny mistake can ripple through your data, leading to significant inaccuracies. These errors are not just common; they’re often hard to detect until they’ve done considerable damage.

3. Collaboration Complications In an era where collaboration is key, Excel falls short. Managing different versions of a spreadsheet among multiple stakeholders can lead to confusion and errors. This makes Excel less ideal for teams that need to work simultaneously on budget forecasts.

4. Data Integration Dilemmas Manual data entry is time-consuming and fraught with potential for errors. Excel doesn’t easily integrate with other systems, which means CFOs often spend too much time just preparing data rather than analyzing it.

5. The Need for Real-Time Data In industries where conditions change rapidly, the lack of real-time data updates in Excel can hinder decision-making. Modern businesses require up-to-the-minute data to make informed decisions quickly.

 

Limitations of Excel

6. Security Shortfalls The ease with which Excel files can be shared also makes them vulnerable. Sensitive financial information requires stringent security measures, which basic Excel files simply do not provide.

7. Limitations in Advanced Analytics Excel’s capabilities in predictive modeling and scenario analysis are limited unless supplemented with external plugins or tools. CFOs seeking to leverage advanced analytics may find Excel frustratingly inadequate.

8. Reporting Rigidities Anyone who’s tried to pull a report from a complex spreadsheet knows it’s no small feat. This process often requires significant manual effort, which can be both time-consuming and prone to errors.

9. Absence of Audit Trails For finance professionals, the lack of comprehensive audit trails in Excel is a serious concern. These trails are critical for tracing the history of changes and ensuring compliance with financial regulations.

10. The Expertise Gap To effectively use Excel for complex forecasting requires deep knowledge and significant training. This creates a gap where only a few individuals can participate meaningfully in the forecasting process, limiting collaboration and innovation.

For CFOs considering a move away from Excel, there are numerous sophisticated budgeting and forecasting tools available. These tools are designed to handle the demands of modern finance functions, offering better scalability, real-time data integration, and enhanced security features, among others. When choosing a new tool, consider your organization’s specific needs, including data complexity, team size, and desired forecasting capabilities.

While Excel has served many businesses well over the years, its limitations are becoming more apparent as the financial landscape becomes more complex and collaborative. It’s time for CFOs to explore more robust solutions that can propel their companies forward in an increasingly competitive market.

McConnell Dowell and the 14 Year Journey to Success

McConnell Dowell and the 14 Year Journey to Success

Interviewee: Inez Clement
Company: McConnell Dowell

Interviewee: David Shahinian
Company: Forpoint Solutions

McConnell Dowell has built thousands of iconic, landmark assets, facilities, and infrastructure around the world. When Group Finance Systems Manager, Inez Clement needed an ERP that served the entire business function end to end, she turned to Forpoint Solutions in 2010 for her Infor SunSystems solution. 14 years on and at the helm of an ever-evolving and growing construction company, we reflect on the journey and the relationship that has been built and how she warmly describes Forpoint as “My Support Friends”.

“I am not sure of the exact date, but I have been a client of Forpoint since the business was created.  That entire time I have managed our Finance Systems with regards to the IT side and the user support side.  I have used Forpoint as the support for Infor SunSystems and Vision over all of this time.”

“Way back, (previous to Forpoint) we worked directly with Infor for support and before that with SunSystems themselves. The issues we had in going direct with a large company was that we didn’t have that personal touch, responsiveness to issues, and the knowledge and understanding of our setup.” – Inez

David Shahinian, Director of Forpoint Solutions remembers McConnell Dowell as one of the first clients who started using their consulting services. Over the years McConnel Dowell went through multiple upgrades and as the business expanded, a rollout to global locations around the world.

“As technology became more complex, so did Infor SunSystems, and that was why we were brought in, to assist McConnell Dowell with the regional deployment of upgrades. Back then the internet was not fast, and not reliable, which meant customers had to deploy software in the country, and usually in the office.”- David

Over the next 8 years and across 2 projects, David and the Forpoint team were appointed the mission to upgrade from Infor SunSystems 5.2 to 5.4, then Infor SunSystems 5.4 to 6.2 across every office, in 9 countries.

“We went everywhere! NZ, Pacific Islands (Rarotonga, Samoa, Fiji), Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai, Manila, Jakarta… it was great experiencing the Asian Culture, but mixed in with the Australian McConnell Dowell culture. A lot of offices had ex-pats as managers who rolled out a consistent accounting approach across the APAC region. Each upgrade project roll-out took 6-9 months, and we would usually spend 2 weeks in each country. The larger offices took more time.” – David

In early 2020 as technology advanced further, and internet access improved throughout the region, McConnell Dowell went in the direction of consolidating their sites.  Again, Infor SunSystems was able to handle this requirement.  We brought in all the region databases onto a single server in Australia and went through a major upgrade of our Infor SunSystems environment, going from three servers around the world to consolidating into one server.  This involved a lot of preparation and testing to integrate the three unique servers.  Not only did it involve multiple servers, but there were also around 40 databases located across those three servers that all had to be checked and integrated.

The outcome of the consolidation brought down licensing costs and allowed McConnell Dowell to reduce the number of upgrades required to a single site.

After the consolidation project was complete, Inez came to David with a need for a solution to assist with the financial close process. BlackLine was the perfect solution and integration was seamless into their existing Infor Sunsystems product. Knowing the Forpoint team was adept at integration from system to system, the next challenge was to automate the upload of account balances from Infor SunSystems to BlackLine.

“We developed the Forpoint integration tool.  This tool allowed us to run a stored procedure that would query the database and pull out the data required for the integration. The tool would then output the data in a tab or comma-delimited format.

Lastly, we would configure the tool to upload the file to BlackLine’s SFTP site.

We could execute this process via a command line, giving the client the ability to automate the upload of GL balances from Infor SunSystems to BlackLine on a more regular frequency.” – David

Within the McConnel Dowell ecosystem of tools was their project management software Workbench. Using Infor SunSystems as their financial management system, and Workbench as their project management system, meant that master data held in Infor SunSystems had to be synchronized to Workbench, but it also meant that AP Invoicing, AR Invoicing, AR receipt data had to make its way from Workbench to Infor SunSystems.  When AP Invoice payments were made, Workbench users needed visibility on this, requiring payment data to be pushed back to Workbench.

Without the integration, the additional time and effort required to produce the data and send it to the end users, and the amount of re-keying of data would have been enormous.

So it was a call to Forpoint that initiated the build of this integration, and the outcome served to eliminate the amount of manual time. As well as this, automating the process to a daily overnight process meant that the task didn’t require data entry at all. All it required was for finance to know if the import failed and when this happened, they would investigate. Ultimately we were able to sync data each day between the systems with no manual intervention.

This process was done at all McConnel Dowell sites in the region, saving the company time and money.

“Forpoint Solutions have always been there for me to rely upon and their friendliness, responsiveness, and caring attitude have always supported our needs to find the best solution when we needed it.

When I talk about Forpoint – I refer to them as ‘My Support Friends.”

Inez Clement, Group Finance Systems Manager, McConnell Dowell

Forpoint is proudly locally owned and operated, supporting clients like Inez in Australia and New Zealand. We provide best-in-breed software solutions for the office of the CFO and are with our clients every step of the way to support and integrate solutions that transform businesses.

Infor SunSystems Annual Conference Highlights

Infor SunSystems Annual Conference Highlights

There was plenty of ‘Sun’, in Ho Chi Minh City last week as Infor SunSystems held their annual APAC Partner conference with many in attendance.  2024 was dubbed “The Year of the Product” by Andrew Newman, VP and GM of Infor SunSystems IBU, who hosted the annual event and presented SunSystems’ product goals for 2024 and beyond. Infor SunSystems has been a cornerstone product for Forpoint Solutions and our Director Bill Bryce was in attendance to bring back the highlights of what was another exciting and progressive annual conference.

Here are the key highlights from the event:

Strong adoption of Infor SunSystems Cloud

Infor SunSystems Cloud has had great success and proven traction in the market since it’s launch last year, reaching it’s 100th customer (110 by the time the conference came around). This positions Infor SunSystems steadily for further growth in the cloud market for 2024 and beyond.

New Moves in APAC

The APAC region will have more investment in the next 12 months as the cloud product drives growth in the region. With many new customers moving onto the new cloud platform, there are also existing customers moving from self-hosted to a SaaS solution. Announcement of a Sydney Data Centre to host SunSystems Cloud is due by July 2024.

Stability of the Roll Out

Like any new product, SunSystems Cloud has undoubtedly faced some teething challenges however Infor, has been quick to respond to partners and customers, allocating more resources to address these promptly with stability as a high priority.

Features & Functions

Each year, there will be two major releases with new features and functions, scheduled for April and October. These will be additional features included in the core system to continually enhance functionality and respond to the end user requirements.

What’s the development focus?

Naturally, given the move to cloud (SaaS), these updates will happen automatically as the main focus for Infor SunSystems, due to the ability to implement to users easily and quickly.

Integrations to 3rd party systems

An application needs to be able to connect to other solutions in order to thrive in the cloud, and Infor SunSystems Cloud is no exception. Since SunSystems has long served as a “hub” for financial transactions that originate in other applications, Infor has acknowledged the need to enhance the APIs and is currently including updates specifically to address external systems such as AP Automation, Purchase to Pay and Expense Management solutions, to name a few.

 

Data Storage for Infor

Accessing your Infor SunSystems data in the cloud for retrieving information from the Infor Datalake, (a component of the Infor OS) will be included in upcoming releases, which will greatly facilitate its consumption by corporate data warehouses and visualisation by business intelligence tools such as EPM or Microsoft Power BI.

The User Experience Enhancements

In order to improve user acquisition, the capability to have reporting dashboards, KPIs, and custom widgets is being implemented. This will make the user experience more personalised and educational overall.

The Wrap Up:

Overall the Infor team have made enormous progress with the cloud version of SunSystems and it is a viable option for Customers to move their SunSystems “on premise” to the cloud with enhanced useability and rich features now available across the finance spectrum.  ……

Velixo X Sage Intacct Webinar

Velixo X Sage Intacct Webinar

Amplify your reporting capabilities with Velixo:

 

Lunch & Learn Webinar, March 12th!

🙌 Are you looking for better ways to report from Sage Intacct?

It’s time to elevate your Excel spreadsheets to real-time reporting and forecasting with Velixo.

Join our lunch & learn webinar on March 12th at 12:00pm to join Forpoint’s David Shahinian and Velixo’s Duffy Cohen, to explore this Australian first software, exclusive to Forpoint Solutions.

What you will learn:

🤔 What the problem is with manual spreadsheets.

Understand the problem with exporting Sage Intacct data to Excel and why this repetitive and time-consuming task is obsolete & error-prone.

🤔 Direct data writeback to Sage Intacct (GL Journals, Budget, Dimension allocation)

Learn how Velixo allows you to write data back to Sage Intacct, for scenarios like budgeting, forecasting, automation of business processes, to the General Ledger, Project Management and any other module.

 

🥳 Learn how Velixo provides what users really want …. Simplicity and Excel.

 

“The ability to write my forecasts back in bulk saves me lots of back and forth and manual entries, I estimate it reduces our budgeting process from days to hours.”

Live Demo of Velixo:

See the solution in action with a live demonstration. Understand how Velixo can help you reduce manual processes, Make decisions faster, and reduce month-end close by 50%.

Join us on March 12th at 12:00pm and get a special offer to try Velixo for FREE.

Martus & Forpoint Solutions Partnership Announcement

Martus & Forpoint Solutions Partnership Announcement

Forpoint Solutions Welcomes Martus to Its Market Place Partnership Ecosystem

Sydney, Australia – January, 2024 – Forpoint Solutions Pty Ltd, a leader in providing innovative business solutions, is excited to announce the latest addition to its Market Place Partnership Ecosystem – Martus, a cutting-edge technology provider specializing in cloud-based budgeting, forecasting, and reporting software enables organizations of any size to create, execute, and analyze their budgets in a fraction of the time it takes to set up and organize a spreadsheet. This new partnership marks a significant milestone in Forpoint Solutions’ commitment to offering comprehensive and forward-thinking solutions to its clients.

Innovative Collaboration for Enhanced Solutions

Martus brings to the partnership their technology solution that adds budgeting and forecasting to any size business with fast, uncompromised efficiency and affordable price point, complementing Forpoint Solutions’ existing range of products and services. This collaboration is set to enhance the capabilities offered to current and future clients, delivering a more robust and integrated experience.

Empowering Businesses with Advanced Technologies

The integration of Martus’s technologies into Forpoint Solutions’ ecosystem will provide businesses with access to advanced reporting tools and budgeting solutions that drive efficiency, innovation, and growth. Clients can now benefit from a broader range of options tailored to meet their unique needs in today’s dynamic market.

Commitment to Excellence and Customer Success

Forpoint Solutions Pty Ltd remains committed to its mission of enabling business success through effective technology solutions. The partnership with Martus underscores this commitment, ensuring that clients receive not just products, but complete and effective solutions that contribute to their success.

About Forpoint Solutions Pty Ltd

Forpoint Solutions Pty Ltd is an Australian company at the forefront of providing innovative business solutions to the Office of the CFO. With a focus on customer success and technology excellence, Forpoint Solutions offers a best-of-breed range of products and services designed to meet the evolving needs of the finance function across various industries.

About Martus

Martus Martus provides a cloud-based budgeting and reporting solution for non-profits and businesses. Martus customers include large churches, membership associations, Tribal organizations, foundations, health care non-profits, cultural/entertainment organizations and many others. Key benefits include rapid implementations, ease of use and affordable pricing. With more than 12,000 users around the globe and partners in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and South Africa, Martus is committed to continuously enhancing its product and services to meet the growing needs of its customers and partners.

For More Information

For more information about the partnership and how it can benefit your business, please contact:

VICTORIA | WA | SA : John Christodolou | Executive Sales |Forpoint Solutions Pty Ltd | John.christodoulou@forpoint.com.au | 0414 819 166

New South Wales | QLD | NZ : Kristie Simpson| Executive Sales |Forpoint Solutions Pty Ltd | Kristie.simpson@forpoint.com.au | 0406 242 444