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Want to make better business decisions but struggle to access reliable data in Excel spreadsheets?

In an ever-changing world, organizations require support to enable clearer insights into past and future performance. The desire for financial transformation using digital technology is on the rise as organizations strive to find better ways to understand how they are doing, where they are going, and what they should be doing to get there. The current global economic situation means organizations are managing rising inflation, energy costs, and interest rates, as well as supply chain disruption and the challenge of retaining top talent. The agility to adapt strategies and processes when needed is a must, so finance leaders need to get their people focused on value-adding activities such as increased forecasting, reporting, and insights.

Excel spreadsheets are excellent resources for basic business planning, but there are better solutions to support big decisions where data must be continually re-run and analyzed. The digital transformation of business operations is upon us, and if you're still relying on Excel spreadsheets to support major decisions, it's time to make the switch to cloud-based ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), FP&A (Financial Planning & Analysis) and HCM (Human Capital Management) solutions. By leveraging these cloud-based solutions, you can be sure that the data you need to make important business decisions is always up-to-date and reliable as a single source of the truth.

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The problem with data in Excel spreadsheets

As finance leaders strive to make better business decisions, access to reliable data is essential. But with Excel spreadsheets, it can be a challenge. They weren’t designed for multiple users making numerous updates and changes, so when more than one person is involved, it can become an issue with multiple versions of the truth, siloed data, and human errors such as wrong formulas. It's also incredibly time-consuming for finance teams to manually input and update data, sometimes with multiple versions of the same file existing, leaving little time for value-adding analysis. This means the accuracy of the data can become questionable, and it’s difficult to draw accurate insights when conversations are instead focused on whose version of the data is correct. Finance leaders need access to accurate and timely data in real time to make more informed decisions. As an organization scales, spreadsheets can massively impede the pursuit of efficiency in financial reporting. Finance leaders need reliable data to provide essential insights and to make informed decisions, but Excel spreadsheets are simply not up to the task as the company grows, given that they were primarily designed as a personal productivity tool.

Planning and forecasting in Excel can lead to confusion, frustration, and distrust. And integrating different data sources into a single version of the truth in a master file often requires considerable manual effort and time. Wasting time in Excel consolidating and formatting data and not being confident in the data can massively impact decision-making and the credibility of individuals and functions. To make sure that decisions are based on reliable data, many finance leaders are embarking on a digital transformation journey and switching to cloud-based ERP and FP&A solutions instead.

The benefits of cloud-based ERP and FP&A solutions

A dedicated planning and analysis tool can significantly free up finance teams' time for more value-adding activity. A unified FP&A software platform “conservatively saves 2.5 hours every month in employee time on average” (BPM Partners – The Road to FP&A Excellence 2022). With cloud-based software, finance teams can access comprehensive, real-time data in one platform without the hassle of multiple Excel spreadsheets and intensive manual data gathering. This allows for greater insights, trending, analysis, and decision support in a fraction of the time it would take to do manually. By utilizing cloud-based solutions, finance teams have more time to concentrate on analysis and drilling down for deeper insights that support better business decisions.

An integrated financial planning and analysis solution also increases agility as businesses can react quickly to changing conditions or capitalize on emerging opportunities. These platforms provide sophisticated yet easy-to-use features such as dashboards and reporting capabilities that enable businesses to act with speed and accuracy. In addition, these solutions offer scalability as businesses grow, allowing agility even during periods of rapid expansion. This results in increased flexibility and the ability to keep pace with changing markets, conditions, and customer demands. With enhanced agility comes improved profitability as businesses make faster decisions with confidence, knowing they are making informed choices with accurate data from trusted sources.

Cloud-based solutions also offer easy access to trends and benchmarking, which can be used to drive agility and efficiency. AI-powered analytical capabilities within these cloud-based systems allow users to quickly identify any potential issues or hidden opportunities. These insights improve decision-making by providing users with the actionable intelligence they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Cloud-based systems allow users to collaborate across departments, which further enhances their ability to be agile. For example, when marketing requests additional resources, finance teams can use their cloud-based system to view historical spending patterns and better understand how much money is needed and where it should be allocated. This collaboration helps create an efficient workflow and agility when responding to requests.

How to make the switch to cloud-based ERP and FP&A solutions

Moving to cloud-based solutions can appear daunting, but with an understanding of your data requirements, budget, implementation timeline, and overall business needs, the move to the cloud becomes easier. To get started, you'll need to identify what data you need from your spreadsheets, what formats it needs to be in, and where it should reside. Then you can begin researching suitable ERP and FP&A solutions and providers that offer comprehensive tools designed specifically for automating business processes.

Choosing the right solutions for your business

Choosing the right solutions for your business can be tricky, especially when it comes to data-driven decisions. Cloud-based ERP and FP&A systems can offer more flexibility and scalability than traditional on-premises software. This makes them ideal for businesses that need to rapidly scale up or down as demand changes or new opportunities present themselves. Additionally, they allow businesses to access accurate, real-time data from anywhere. This means no more fiddling with complex Excel spreadsheets or waiting hours or days for answers – decisions can be made quickly, allowing businesses to act on new opportunities before their competitors can even react. This allows companies to capitalize on trends and stay ahead of the competition. Plus, cloud-based ERP and FP&A systems have powerful tools that make it easy to manage inventory, analyze customer behavior, track sales performance, forecast budgets, run simulations, plan for future investments, and much more. They also have built-in security protocols to keep all data safe and secure.

These systems are easy to implement and use – meaning less time spent getting everyone onboarded and up to speed. Finally, because these solutions are housed in the cloud, users don’t have to worry about maintenance or updating expensive hardware – they can just focus on making better business decisions faster. In short, switching to cloud-based ERP and FP&A solutions will give businesses the competitive edge they need to succeed in an ever-changing market.

How Unit4 can help your organization

With Unit4’s comprehensive cloud-based ERP, HCM, and FP&A software for people-centric organizations, you can adapt and optimize how your people work to help you manage complexity and focus on the things that matter. Unit4’s next-generation smart ERP software solutions are built with businesses like yours in mind. With us, you can ‘Experience Real Purpose’ with an adaptable solution that’s right for your business, now and in the future.

To discover more, click here to book a demo and see what our solutions can do for your organization.

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