Year-end is a crucial period for any chief financial officer. When looking to the upcoming year, efficient budget planning and forecasting can help you prepare for the future, draw up effective strategies—and align your objectives across the entire organization.
The evolving role of the CFO
The pace of change and the broader economic impacts experienced during the global pandemic have accelerated a significant shift in the traditional role of the CFO.
In the past, much of your role as a financial leader would have involved managing rear-facing details like closing the period, reconciling general ledger transactions, invoice matching, or cash application.
Today, it’s likely that you’ll oversee more areas of the business than ever before—and be taking on added areas of responsibility, too.
“In situations of crisis and beyond, CFOs must tackle new challenges as a strategist, rather than an accountant.”
And as the financial departments and IT departments in your business continue to work together more closely, your role is likely to include responsibilities around data management, data science, and information technologies too.
“79% of professionals see the need for investing in the automation of tasks and data capture.”
Looking forwards, not backwards
Today, periods of economic uncertainty, like those caused by the pandemic and ongoing international conflicts, will see you being pulled into more discussions around business planning and strategy.
And this means shifting your year-end focus to more forward-looking activities—like forecast and budget planning, with investments in the tools and software needed to do these well.
“The needs of the business are growing. The pace of innovation is accelerating. CFOs can either plan for change, or plan to retire.”
Accuracy, speed, and scope
Forecasting and budgeting are crucial components of every company’s growth journey, especially during periods of change.
The efficacy of each process is highly dependent on the delivery of accurate information to your financial planning and analysis teams.
This needs to be done at speed. And at a scale at which they can make crucial company-wide plans, match enterprise goals to budgets, and support the significant corporate decisions you need to make.
“78% of professionals want to invest in supporting their IT teams to establish closer links with data sources.”
Common frustrations with current finance and accounting systems include the slow speeds at which period-end closing and reporting processes are executed. And the fact that the financial insights they provide are minimal.
And for CFOs, such restrictions can limit the visibility of what’s happening in your organization regarding cash and liquidity—making accurate forecasting and budgeting at year-end extremely challenging.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
“Budgeting and planning used to be a nightmare… if one formula was off, you’d have to spend hours or days trying to figure out what was wrong. [With Sage Intacct] we save many, many hours… We could probably do budgets in a week, instead of a month.”
Amanda Goebel, Senior Accountant, Halstatt
Making a move away from spreadsheets
Investing in ways to deliver accurate information to your financial planning and analysis teams at speed and scale can mean moving away to manual activities and spreadsheets.
That’s because, while many medium-sized businesses rely on manual activities and spreadsheets for their budgeting and forecasting, they are labor-intensive, take a long time to complete, and can be challenging to manage across the entire organization.
“Only 43% of organizations can forecast revenue to within +/-5%”
Emerging technologies for greater visibility
Today, software and financial management tools can play a vital role in creating greater and more accurate visibility—and can streamline manual processes to make budgeting and forecasting easier.
And as the most senior financial professional in your organization, you can expect to be called upon to guide new investments around finance, enterprise resource planning, and analytics.
The enhanced visibility provided by today’s tools and software can help you drive and build effective long-term capital appropriation plans for your organization. And help you understand which key performance indicators you need to watch to steer your company to safety in times of crisis.
All the more reason to invest in software and tools that make your business flow. And mean that your budget planning and forecasting are done at speed—and with the accuracy and scale required.
For example, moving to data and analytics software can enable you to report on data from multiple internal and/or external sources within one system and interface—and help you to make better-informed decisions.
“75% of professionals see the need for investing in complete standardization of all processes across their organization.”
Enterprise Intelligence solutions can help you manage your data and make informed decisions based in real time, eliminating the need for disparate tools and specialized skills.
Using software to simplify your financial management and get better visibility in can strengthen your margins from pipeline to ongoing projects for the year ahead.
Budget planning and forecasting
Typically, as CFO, you’ll create a budget as your road map before developing a financial forecast. Your budget will help you determine how much money your organization will need to spend to reach the goals you’ve outlined.
Creating your budget will also reveal the shape and direction of your organization’s finances. At the same time, a forecast will highlight whether you’re meeting the financial goals you’ve outlined.
And while you’d usually prepare a budget for the short term and use it to help your management team set expectations for where your organization wants to go, your forecasting process will happen in the short and long term.
That’s because forecasting measures where your company’s actually headed. A forecast can be adjusted and fine-tuned beyond year-end to meet any emerging changes in the business situation or economic conditions in which you operate.
Efficient forecasting with reliable data provides valuable insights that empower you to proactively reallocate resources. And it can help the managers in your organization make data-driven decisions with confidence.
Software to simplify
Today’s software solutions can let you take control of the budgeting process—removing the time-consuming admin that’s traditionally involved to free you to focus on high-value items.
Employing the right software can transform how you plan, budget, and report. You can automate your essential financial and operational processes and make your organization more agile and profitable, all while reducing risk.
Different solutions can help you align strategies and priorities, meet your financial targets, and adjust at speed to market changes, so you can avoid surprises.
Year-end made easy
Sage software is designed to help you keep financial focus. We’re here to help you streamline your business and prepare for your year-end close with ease.
Want to further power up your year-end forecasting and budget planning?
Join us to discover which emerging forecasting and budget planning trends you can expect to see in 2023 and beyond. The analysts at IDC will also explore the common considerations and challenges organizations like yours are dealing with today.