Archives Jack Williams

4 reasons you need to upgrade from Excel to financial planning software

As a company grows it keeps hold of legacy systems. When entrepreneurs start out, they build a business using Excel – and for small companies, it can work.

After a while, however, it’s time to consider specialist financial planning software. Excel works fine for a small business that’s just starting out, but as financial transactions become more complex, it’s important to keep up with the ability to manage processes efficiently and error-free.

Here are three reasons why you should make the transition from Excel to financial planning software…

1. Be more productive in less time

Excel works well for simple formulas. A master can even set up complex spreadsheets with lots of autofill rules.

However, that all takes time. More importantly, it relies on someone knowing exactly how to make the most out of Excel.

As your business grows and you take on more staff, more suppliers, and more customers, the data you’re required to handle becomes simply too big.

Cross-referencing spreadsheets is time-consuming. Advanced financial planning software helps you to quickly and easily access any data you seek.

In addition, financial planning software can run advanced analytics for quick and visual reporting. This can save significant time for financial management meetings, and also provides a clear at-a-glance overview of a company’s financial status at any time.

2. Prevent costly human errors

Spreadsheets are often saved to a desktop as a new version, or errors are saved into a master sheet with no audit trail to recover the original.

A simple additional ‘0’ here and there can significantly change the outcome of an Excel spreadsheet, and all it takes is human error. It’s easy to miss small things when you’ve been looking at spreadsheets all day, but the information handled in Excel is too important to risk.

Financial planning software retains version control and keeps everything in one place. There’s no possibility of different versions of spreadsheets: it’s all in the same document.

Set algorithms will also highlight significant errors caused by manual input, so your financial information is protected from human error.

3. Be audit-ready at any time

As companies grow it is inevitable they will undergo an audit. This could be a government audit for tax reasons, or a supplier request to ensure quality and transparency.

Audits with Excel typically take huge amounts of time to compile, taking hours away from core business duties for all staff involved.

An audit with financial planning software, however, can be done in a very short amount of time. Fast reporting and clear record change tracking enable anybody to trace transactions or budget forecasts with ease.

4. Increase security with financial planning software

The security of an Excel spreadsheet is very low. Even password-protection won’t prevent someone from copying the files or giving the password to someone who shouldn’t have it.

Financial planning software is ideal for maintaining the confidentiality of business transactions, employee files, and supplier contracts. Tiered access means staff can only see what they’re authorised to see, and yet everyone can still operate from within the software at any time, unlike a spreadsheet which allows just one user.

For more information on how the right financial planning and analysis software can help your business grow, contact our helpful team of experts today.

 

3 ways to ensure your financial reports are read

Financial reporting can be perceived by many business managers as dull and too detailed. However, it’s important that your reports are read by those in your organisation who need to be privy to the data contained within them.

Here are three top tips to ensure that your financial reports actually get read.

1. Survey Users

Managers at different levels may appreciate some of the same information, but they may also require different data from their peers too. You can ensure that your users get what they need from your reports by carrying out a simple survey.

Ask if your managers are using your financial reports and find out how they would prefer the data to be presented. Ongoing investment in technology may be required in order to deliver what your management team want, but this will save you time, as well as produce more relevant and valuable reports that will get read.

2. Customise Dashboards

Dashboards have revolutionised financial reporting, effectively removing page after page of complicated spreadsheets. Make sure that you are using the technology you have available to you and work with your users to customise dashboards so that they can quickly and easily reach the reports they need in the format that is most user-friendly to them.

3. Use Analytics

One easy way to ensure that your reports get read is by including relevant analytics and metrics, which show whether the reports have indirectly or directly led to improved efficiency, an uptick in sales or production etc.

Discuss targeted outcomes with your business users, and then use this information to tweak the reporting so that it provides real-time data and performance insight. Remember to highlight successes achieved by departments that have leveraged insights from your reports and promote this throughout the business. Other areas will be keen to replicate these results and will be keen to use your financial reporting in order to do so.

Ultimately, the best financial reporting brings better results and by identifying and delivering the right reports to the right managers across your organisation, you can make a major impact on the success of the business as a whole.

For more information on how the right financial planning and analysis software can help your business grow, contact our helpful team of experts today.

How GDPR affects those working within a financial role

On the 25th May 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation is due to come into effect through EU law. Despite the UK’s commitment to Brexit, any changes that come into effect with GDPR will remain in place and, quite possibly, be broadened in coming years.

For now, what this means is that businesses, importantly the financial professionals responsible for storing data, need to fully understand the upcoming changes and implement them as soon as possible.

Broadly speaking, this new legislation will act as a means to greatly strengthen the security of consumer data and bring the law up to date with the quickly advancing digital age. For those acting in a financial position, in any industry, it’s vital that you get to grips with the following changes.

1. Greater control is being given back to the consumers

The main purpose of GDPR is to give individuals as much control over their personal data as possible. As such, new legislation not only allows people to access data and move it, it also gives them control to erase it. What is classified as personal data has also been expanded to include internet cookies, DNA and IP addresses. Being able to move data when needed allows easier capabilities to switch service providers. If necessary, individuals will be able to utilise the “right to be forgotten”, whereby online data must be erased by businesses when requested.

2. Increase awareness and transparency in data collection

Many consumers are still unaware of exactly what constitutes their personal data, and when or not it is being collected. One step to improve this transparency is the removal of pre-selected tick boxes or default opt-out options on sign up forms. The idea is that these boxes can be misleading or are often ignored, meaning businesses should not presume to collect data from the outset.

3. Greater business accountability

It is being made perfectly clear that businesses should view privacy of customer data as of the utmost importance. Impact assessments will be required to ensure businesses are fully aware of the risks they face and how to deal with potential attacks. If there is a breach of security, it is vital that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is contacted within 72 hours and, if it’s a high-risk attack, customers must also be notified.

4. Greater monitoring controls

The power of the ICO will be extended to allow them greater ease in carrying out investigations and imposing relevant sanctions. The maximum fine they can issue is being increased from £500,000 to £17 million (or 4% of global turnover). There will also be an increase in the variety of offences that can warrant punishment, such as not properly anonymising data.

It is important that you understand the impact of GDPR for financial professionals, and that you ensure your company is acting within the law with regards to client data. When working for an organisation of any size, it’s natural for there to be data spread out across a number of different departments. Bringing your business up to speed with GDPR means knowing what data needs protecting and knowing how to properly do so. Luckily, we offer data solutions that would help to offset much of this difficulty, by bringing this data together and making it far easier to comply with new regulations. To find out more, get in contact today.

Predictive Analytics – Will It Change The Way We Plan?

In this age of big data and high-speed information processing, companies need a business intelligence (BI) solution to help them sift through the mountains of data produced every day. Tesco’s alone handles more than 1 million customer transactions every hour, just imagine how they process this data?

To make informed decisions, businesses use predictive analytics solutions to analyse data. To effectively process data, it is important that organisations use the best software programs that will suit their business model. Decisions that affect profitability or loss cannot be made without predictive analytics. So a careful selection process should be followed before choosing a software that will help your business grow.

A predictive analytics solution allows the user to embed advanced analytical and predictive capabilities into your companies’ business processes with the agility necessary to operate at the ultra-rapid pace of today’s business. And do it in a simple way, allowing business users to take the lead, without having to depend on an army of experts as necessary with the traditional data-mining and analytics products.

Advancements in predictive analytics will have implications beyond business’s technological capabilities. Organisations will meet new challenges in terms of skills, implementation and much more. How can business managers prepare for change?

  1. Policy changes that welcome predictive analytics solutions

If business intelligence and predictive analytics are to assume a central position in a managers toolbox, a few major hurdles will need to be overcome.

Although it is inevitable that predictive analytics solutions will be adopted en masse, the truth is that many executives are stuck in their old ways. Predictive analytics can help businesses make smarter and faster decisions, but managing data, people, and technology may require some implementation and policy changes.

  1. Companies must have access to high-quality data

Data is the greatest deterrent in the adoption of predictive analytics solutions within organisations. The quality of your data is a direct reflection on the type of business intelligence solution you adopt. High-quality data will be consistent in any format and will enable executives to make reliable decisions and forecasts.

  1. Recruiting and training for the right skills

Predictive analytics technology is growing in sophistication, and so must our skill level, but knowledge in the industry is not advancing at the same pace.

A Capgemini report discovered that 77% of companies view the lack of skills as the greatest hurdle to overcome for a successful predictive analytics transformation. Given its potential for use in every business function, it is an area that requires more training and expertise.

Predictive Analytics Leads to Effective Preventive Maintenance

Some companies use a preventive maintenance model to plug the gap caused by a downtime and the only way to identify these fault areas is by using a predictive model. Below are some of the benefits of a predictive and predictive business model.

  • Better asset productivity
  • Longer lifespan for operational asset
  • Improved efficiency from data analysis
  • Reduced business costs
  • Effective budgeting

For a preventive maintenance model to be effective, all relevant data must be captured and analysed. Hence a business intelligence and predictive analytics solution must be in place to ensure that the data captured is a true reflection of what the organisation is to expect.