Planacy - FAQ

Answers to common questions about budget, forecast and Planacy!

Planacy - FAQ

Answers to common questions about budget, forecast and Planacy!

Planacy - FAQ

Planacy’s FAQ answers the questions that companies often ask – about Planacy and about budgeting, forecasting and planning in general. We hope the answers give you a better understanding of how Planacy provides you with a simpler and more value-creating planning process.

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Excel is a great tool in many ways. Flexible, powerful and relatively user-friendly if you know how to use it. Few planning tools can match Excel's strengths in terms of calculations and flexibility. So why isn’t Excel suitable for all budgeting, forecasting and planning?

As soon as more than just a few people are involved, problems and challenges arise in an Excel process. Excel is not a collaborative tool for handling multiple contributors. It does not incorporate a workflow. There is no sufficiently good version management or authorization procedure. It is almost impossible to track down errors when the process is too complex.

And it often depends on a single person: the company's Excel guru who has cobbled the whole process together. Which becomes apparent the day the guru leaves the company and someone else takes over the process.

Excel is a good tool for small companies that do not have a complex or business-critical planning process. But as users and complexity increase, you will be better off with a more modern and integrated system support that automates and streamlines your process. 

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The answer depends on your situation.

  • When the external data required for budgeting and forecasting is spread across many different pre-systems.
  • When planning involves multiple individuals.
  • When things start getting more complicated and managing Excel templates becomes time-consuming.
  • When your business is ambitious for high growth, which demands rapid changes and decisions, with constantly updated plans and a continuous view ahead.
  • When you spend all your time as a controller on preparation and consolidation and minimal time on analysis of the budget.

Budgeting, forecasting and planning should be a value-creating activity. A task that gets the business with its employees, units and processes to work together, pulling in the same direction to develop the company in accordance with its objectives.

Excel is often an obstacle to delegating responsibility and achieving a high level of ownership of the planning work. A modern system support:

  • Reduces administration
  • Automates preparation and consolidation
  • Increases opportunities for delegated responsibility with high ownership
  • Increases the opportunities for Finance and Business Control to support the business and spend more time on value-creating analysis and business management.
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If you are a small company with a flat growth curve and/or a few individuals and no more than a few simple planning processes, Excel is often enough.

If your business lacks an overarching picture of how your planning process should look, you are justified in waiting to invest in a system support for budget, forecast and planning. In any case, we recommend starting this process before investing in a platform that will support you in it. This is an area where Planacy partners are experts and will be glad to support you.  

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With budget and forecast processes in Excel and many other planning tools, the finance function spends much of its time on repetitive manual tasks such as preparing templates and acquiring and verifying data. Planacy reduces the workload, freeing more time for analysis and a higher quality budget.

For example, controllers have more time to create value for the company – acting as business partners and supporting the business and organization with analyses and their financial expertise.

A planning platform also minimizes errors in the budget and forecast process. For users, as well as the person preparing the budget and forecast round.

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* Developed by a consultancy, not by a product or software company.

Many IT consultancies have a self-developed tool or system for budgets and forecasts. There are many reasons for this. Previously lack of existing suitable tools is one. Another is that they were working with customers on related processes and saw an opportunity to broaden their business.

There is also something else to consider when investing in a consultancy’s home-made system for budgets and forecasts. One of the consultancy’s major motivations is: To offer a tool that brings in business for the consultancy side.

There is a significant difference between driving the development of a software product and delivering consultancy services. In an IT consultancy whose primary purpose is to deliver consultancy services, the consultancy side will always be prioritized over unpaid R&D. This means few consulting firms with their own home-made system devote sufficient focus or resources to developing an efficient and easily administered system. In fact, implementation that takes 10 hours longer is better for the consultancy than spending 200 hours more on R&D.

For a product company 100% focused on developing the product, all the scalability and growth opportunity lies in developing a product that requires as little implementation and administration as possible. It lies in enabling partners that implement and customize the solution to configure the system easily and efficiently and with minimal administration. This is because it enables them to deliver value rapidly to their customers, giving them the opportunity to offer the system to even more customers.

So for Planacy, there is no intrinsic value in creating consulting hours. For us, it is about ourselves and our partners with our platform being able to deliver as much value as possible to as many customers as possible. We are convinced that this is the right focus to create real customer value.

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Nobody is good at everything. A CPM system should be excellent for follow-up and analysis as well as budgeting, forecasting and operational planning. This is something most, if not all, current CPM systems find it hard to live up to.

There are innovative platforms on the market that focus 100% on follow-up and analysis, such as Microsoft Power BI®, Qlik® and Tableau®. Their focus on creating the best Business Intelligence & Analytics platforms has made them market leaders with unrivalled functionality. Powerful functionality for follow-up, reporting and analysis that CPM systems cannot match.

For those reasons, Planacy has chosen a strategy that focuses 100% on financial and operational planning. We have applied that focus to develop an innovative and powerful planning platform with functionality that CPM systems cannot compete with. We have also succeeded in creating a coherent solution with a unique database and configurability, and seamless integration with the market-leading Business Intelligence systems for both data modelling and analysis. This means we can offer the best of both worlds.

While CPM systems must develop and maintain both these aspects of the product, Planacy focuses on being best-of-breed – delivering unbeatable customer value.

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If you have a modern business intelligence system, you have invested in a platform with powerful functionality that supports your work on follow-up and analysis. You have built up a data model using relevant data and a dimensional structure with the most important KPIs and analysis objects for your business. Why not take advantage of this investment in your budgeting and forecasting?

By integrating your planning process with your follow-up and analysis and BI platform, you are already benefiting from your investment by re-using your data model and analysis applications. You get a budgeting, forecasting and planning platform that mirrors your BI platform, giving you a coherent solution. In addition, the implementation time – adapting the platform to your business – is reduced, while administration becomes smoother when you only need to maintain a data model in the future.

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No, you do not need a BI (Business Intelligence) platform for Planacy to work.

Planacy is a stand-alone planning system that works whatever pre-system you have. Data is retrieved from your business system or other pre-system and returned to the same system. You analyse budgets, forecasts and planning with the same tool you use currently. For example, Cognos, Visma or Excel.

However, we are convinced that all progressive companies should have a BI to obtain the maximum benefit and value from their planning process and platform. Planacy can be integrated with modern BI platforms such as QlikView, Qlik Sense, Tableau or Power BI. This provides a complete and seamless system for planning and follow up. However, while this generates significant added value in budgets and forecasts, Planacy works well without it. You can always add a BI platform later.

Learn more about the benefits of integrating Planacy with a modern BI such as Power BI, Qlik, or Tableau.

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People often mention the repetitive, manual and time-consuming data acquisition and manual reconciliation involved with Excel and less modern system support. You can shorten the time it takes to prepare a budget round, above all by reducing the time it takes to acquire, assure and correct data before the budgeting or forecasting round starts.

A modern integrated planning platform ensures verified and accurate data, so you can safely start a new budget and forecast round in just a few minutes. As a controller or CFO, this saves you time that you can use instead to be an involved business partner, supporting your business with your expertise. Many companies can testify to the time gained, the better understanding of the business, and the increased business benefits that a modern system support platform provides.

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Planacy enables budgeting, forecasting and planning to be delegated. This is achieved via powerful workflow support and a simple input format for people with budgeting and planning responsibilities, such as department heads, project managers and sales managers.

The intuitive and logical user interface makes it easy for the user to understand how the process works. Supplementing the process with drivers the business is familiar with makes the planning process easier to understand. The business can more easily understand the connections and plan its activities. In addition, many employees feel stronger ownership of the budget or forecast.

Controllers and CFOs are responsible for the overarching aspects of planning, and can devote their time instead to supporting the business, analysing the budget and the forecast and certifying the various parts.

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Delegating responsibility for inputs into the business’ financial planning to where the insights are greatest does more than increase the quality of the work. It also means that the people contributing feel greater ownership of the financial plan that is eventually agreed.

To make this possible the process must be easy for people in the operations to understand, and it must be easy for them (they often lack accounting skills) to contribute input. To achieve this, account-based budgeting must be abandoned as far as possible and replaced by driver-based elements. This aims to clarify what drives revenue and costs, and how people with responsibility in the business can influence their budget.

A modern and user-friendly system support, with customized input templates and budget drivers based on your business logic, increases your prospects of achieving high accountability in the business.

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A budget is a financial plan for the coming year. It is in line with the strategic plan and objectives. A budget is produced once a year, and the business is followed up continuously against it. In terms of not only results but also forecasts.

A forecast is used to predict reality, its current effects on the business and what will happen in the future. It is based on known factors. The forecast is also used to identify possible future gaps between budget and reality and to give the opportunity to act on them. 

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Yes, Planacy supports rolling forecasts.

You can carry out financial and operational planning in several ways in Planacy. You can do it continuously with rolling one-, three-, four- or six-month periods – as you prefer.

Planacy also supports ad-hoc planning. This means you can easily start a new forecast round when the business environment or conditions change. Learn more about rolling forecast in Planacy.

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In an increasingly rapidly changing world with new, fast and disruptive competitors, it is vital to monitor the future. Rolling forecasts give you a continuous and up-to-date view ahead, with financial opportunities and consequences.

A clear and delegated process gives your business a better basis for making decisions about the activities required to respond to opportunities and counter consequences. And hence the opportunity to influence the forecast and development in the right direction.

The principle that guides Planacy’s development is to simplify the collaborative and continuous budgeting, forecasting and planning. Read more about how Planacy supports rolling forecasts [link].

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A driver is an event or KPI that affects the company's earnings and profitability. Each company identifies its own drivers that make changes in the P&L and balance sheet.

For a car dealer, for example, these could be the sales of new cars, used cars and service contracts, or the number of employees, sick days and marketing campaigns. For a company with international sales and purchases, they could be exchange rates, for example.

A driver is something that the business knows well and that often governs the company's various departments.

With driver-based budgeting and forecasting, the company plans and budgets using well-known concepts (drivers) that change costs and revenues in the account-based P&L. This makes it easier for the business to understand the process and plan from it. Budgeting, forecasting and planning become easier for employees. 

Another advantage of driver-based budgeting and forecasting is that it supports and enables more proactive ongoing forecasting. Which in turn leads to a clearer view ahead.

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A budget driver is an event, activity or KPI that affects the company's revenue, costs and earnings. Each business has its own unique drivers that drive changes in the P&L and balance sheet. For example, they could be hours, store visitors, average order size, receipts or the number of employees or customers.

To identify your own drivers (which are not always obvious), you should start by working backwards from the accounts and identifying how each transaction and activity impacts the financial outcome.

For example: If 100 visitors lead to 10 transactions with an average value of X, and five of these customers also order an additional product with an average value of Y, you have tracked an activity chain that leads to revenue of Z. If you look more closely, you might also find that X claims costs arise from these 100 visitors that become 10 customers. And to win 100 visitors, you also need to factor in marketing costs of X and have Y employees to take care of the visitors. You have now started tracking an activity chain that leads to the costs required to achieve Z revenue. 

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Drivers in Planacy run completely automatically and without time lag via definitions in the underlying SQL database. The company's drivers are defined when Planacy is configured, along with how user inputs in one place in a budget template will affect other parts in the same or other budget templates.

For example, a common driver set-up is that you have a separate sales budget template that then automatically change values in sales accounts in the P&L. Or personnel-related templates that change values in personnel accounts. A driver is customized in line with your company's process. The important thing is that it can make changes in other templates.

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One important aspect is that it must be quick and easy to implement in your organization. But most important, the system needs to be customizable to your business and needs.

You will undoubtedly have many further additional requirements for – and expectations of – a new system for budget, forecast and planning. It may be difficult to know precisely which requirements to included, and what a modern system support should be capable of. So we have developed a simple guide. It lists the important functionality you should include in your specification of requirements when evaluating a new system support for budget, forecast and planning.  It will help whether you choose Planacy or a competitor’s budget platform.

Guide - choose the right system support for budget, forecast and planning (only in swedish)

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Planacy is a planning platform for both operational and financial planning.

The most common process is profit budgeting at the account and cost centre levels. The customer usually supplements them with processes and templates that change figures in their profit budget. These may include sales budgeting, purchase budgeting, personnel and pay budgeting, capacity planning and project budgeting, for example. Read more about the processes that Planacy supports.

Planacy does not need to generate a final profit budget. For example, some customers want a stand-alone operational planning platform (for things such as capacity, projects, investments or sales) to enable them to operationally monitor the ongoing view ahead for their department and business.

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You designate one or two administrative system users. Usually, one or two controllers. For example, they add and administer users, access rights, cost centres and responsibilities, and prepare rounds directly in the interface. They can also intuitively create process support for end users, as well as manage and make changes to budget templates.

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Planacy is a web-based planning platform that is installed on premise or in your private cloud and integrated with your ERP and any DW or BI.

Neither administrators nor users need to make any settings on servers or local devices. Everything is managed through the browser interface.

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Excel is often used because it is perceived to be inexpensive. It is included in the Office package that most people already have installed on their computers. At the other end, there are expensive systems that take a long time to implement. Dependency on consultants often increases, and in many cases the system cannot be customized to the business’s needs and changes.

We can only tell you what Planacy costs. Unlike our competitors’, our pricing and licensing model is totally transparent. Make a price quotation to see your licence fee instantly on-screen.

 

A planning platform customizable for your business

Planacy is a modern planning platform that simplifies work on budget, forecast and planning. It is a flexible platform developed to be adaptable to the various types of needs and complexity of many businesses. All companies have their structure, working methods and processes, so the Planacy platform with flexible and customizable modules for different processes can be quickly adapted and implemented to suit every individual customer.

Want to know more about how Planacy can simplify and create value for you? Book a web meeting meeting with a Planacy expert today.