How to Choose the Best Financial Planning and Analysis Tools

Published on: 8 September 2021
Written by: Tridant

When it comes to choosing financial planning and analysis tools for your business, there’s no one ‘best’ option. Small businesses have different needs to enterprise organisations, and what’s well-suited to one business may be too cumbersome to use, or may not provide all the right capabilities for another.

So instead, here’s how to choose the right FP&A tools for your organisation.

1. Does it have the features you need?

Let’s start with the basics. The right financial planning and analysis tools aren’t going to be much good to you if they don’t meet your business’ needs. So having the right features is critical.

Naturally, your new FP&A tools should cover things like revenue, cash flow, profit & loss—the core FP&A principles. But they also need to take into account the collaborative nature of the work. Workflow and collaboration is crucial in making fast decisions, so make sure it has collaborative features. If it’s not easy—or even possible—for multiple users to collaborate, you’re ensuring your processes stay rooted in the pre-cloud era. 

Live integration options ensure your business can view current data and make decisions in real time, enabling faster and more accurate decision making. It also needs to provide automation tools, so your business can improve workflows and accelerate processes, while ensuring the consistency of data, reducing margins for error.

We generally recommend a cloud-based solution. A cloud-based FP&A solution enables remote access, delivering practically unlimited scalability, and reducing your business’ infrastructure needs at the same time. 

2. Ease of use

If your new financial planning and analysis tools aren’t easy for your teams to use, they’re not going to be of any use to the wider organization. That’s not to say they won’t have a learning curve, or that training won’t be required.

But if the learning curve is prohibitive to the majority of users coming on board, then it’s just going to push your operations back. Your new FP&A tools need to be easy enough to use that anyone can perform their basic functions without having the financial or IT team step in to help them through it every time.

So when choosing the best FP&A tools for your business, ease of use will ensure you’re able to get up and running sooner and start to see the value of your new tools quicker.

3. Integration with your existing systems

Your new financial planning & analysis tools are going to set your business up for years to come. So while it’s critical that the platform you choose works within your current system, it’s also important to make sure it’s suited to future growth and business evolution. 

The architecture you choose will depend on your business’ current needs and requirements, but have enough flexibility to allow for future integrations. Choosing flexible FP&A software that integrates with your existing tech stack means that you can seamlessly switch over to your new platform, and get peace of mind that you won’t be constrained in the future. 

4. Time to implement

To ensure continuity, your new financial planning & analysis tools should be available to implement in the timeframe you require. 

This all depends on the size of your business, the software package you’re looking at, the size of the projects you’re working on. Be aware that depending on the size of your project, this can take anywhere from a number of months, to years.

To understand the implementation timeline, it’s important to determine whether the platform can integrate into your existing ecosystem in the first place. Long integration timelines caused by integration hiccups can cause costs to blow out. It can also draw in more staff resources than is preferable, taking time away from your busy IT and finance teams.

If your business is mature in its FP&A practices, then large-scale FP&A tools may be appropriate. You’ll already have the skills and expertise to ensure implementation runs swiftly and smoothly. But for smaller businesses, or those looking to reduce the time to implementation, a more flexible cloud-based solution may be more appropriate.

5. How does the software collect data?

New financial planning & analysis tools should end up saving you time. So the data collection process should be a timesaver, too. Good FP&A tools work to streamline how your business collects, manages, and converts its data into usable insight. If your team is reduced to manually validating data that’s been collected and imported, then there’s no benefit to your organisation.

So for best results, choose a FP&A system that collects and validates data automatically, and delivers efficiencies for your business decisions.

6. Data presentation that suits your needs

To be a truly data-driven business, data needs to be available to everyone in the organization that needs it, in the format that makes the most sense to them. As such, your financial planning & analysis tools need to have the ability to present data in multiple ways.

Dynamic dashboards enable you to present data to different sections of your business and highlight the content that’s necessary to make the right decisions. They also work to streamline the presentation process. Software with interactive dashboard capabilities make it easier for the user to find the data they need, rather than to-ing and fro-ing with the finance team and putting the responsibility on them to deliver.

7. Data analytic capabilities

Data analytics is one of the key value creation drivers for business. So it’s critical to make sure your new platform and software has the ability to perform the right data analytic functions. 

The best FP&A tools enable your business to forecast, create budgets, and make better decisions. They should also be able to:

  • Monitor ongoing KPIs flexibly.
  • Undertake data analytics that can be tailored to the entire business.
  • Deliver specialized forecasting services depending on need.
  • Perform budgeting options that can be tweaked, adjusted, and revised at will.
  • Manage different metrics with ease.

Essentially, your new FP&A tools need to be able to deliver insight that drives your business forward.

Get the tools that help you make better business decisions

While you may be looking for the best FP&A tools, just because something is ‘best of breed’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s best for your business. 

At Tridant, we help you determine which FP&A tools are right for your organization. Get in touch with us today to discuss your business’ requirements, and schedule a solution demo with a subject matter expert.

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