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Insight from the CFO Argyle Forum: Mission critical planning processes still held hostage in spreadsheets

Over 80 percent of finance leaders still rely on 10 or more spreadsheets to support their mission critical planning processes. That’s the astonishing feedback Anaplan received when this question was posed to an audience of over 100 finance leaders at the Chief Financial Leadership Office Forum in Los Angeles, CA, a few weeks ago—see the diagram below.

financial planning

Audience poll of more than 100 finance leaders attending the Chief Financial Leadership Office Forum in Los Angeles, CA, on June 26, 2016.

Some of these finance leaders may be smaller in size and come from companies where spreadsheets are the sole tool for planning and budgeting. But the majority of companies will have some form of enterprise planning and budgeting solution, yet they still say spreadsheets are underpinning critical steps in planning and budgeting processes.

Note that this isn’t a case of companies supplementing the shortcomings of their enterprise planning solutions with the odd spreadsheet here and there—again, over 80 percent of respondents reported relying on 10 or more spreadsheets for their mission critical planning processes.

Spreadsheets abound despite all the talk of financial transformation

Why do all these spreadsheets persist despite all the talk of financial transformation?

Most experts would say finance teams are still struggling with inflexible financial systems that fail to address their end-to-end planning processes—particularly the upstream sales and operational, supply chain, and HR planning that are essential precursors to financial budgeting and forecasting. Organizations struggle with integrated business planning that connects finance and operations. Where a traditional planning system leaves off, spreadsheets take over for what cannot be done in the enterprise system. It’s a problem that is all too common, with research by the Aberdeen Group finding that 89 percent of organizations are still using spreadsheets in their planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes as a bridge to overcome the limitations of their chosen software.

Is it time to diagnose if your organization is being held hostage by spreadsheets? Is your organization also relying on 10 or more spreadsheets for mission critical planning processes? Take time to understand exactly what capabilities you need to address by reading “8 signs your organization has outgrown its financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes.” This new paper is designed to help you identify any failings in your current planning processes and help you get rid of your spreadsheets for good.

“Beyond Spreadsheets: Automating the Financial Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting Process”, Aberdeen Group, June 1, 2013

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