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REVIEW: Budget Software 2016

Change has finally come to the category of planning and budgeting software, resulting in a round of improved capabilities, tighter integration with other software, and another potential revenue stream for accountants who are able to act as master planners and budgeters.

Three trends are driving the evolution of planning and budgeting software in 2016:

• A clear separation between corporate financial planning and business planning for startups. In years past, these two categories have been mashed together, with many software products placing most of the emphasis on how to write a business plan to attract startup funding. Removing the startup planning from the product lines has helped to streamline the industry and make better sense of its software offerings.

• Planning and budgeting have been folded into the larger categories of business analytics and Corporate Performance Management (CPM). This provides a better foundation for these two functions that elevates them from an administrative necessity related to departmental cash flow to a more significant management role.

• Everyone has moved to the cloud. Granted, many packages retain their "on premises" offering as well, but the emphasis today is on speed and better decision support than replacing a spread-sheet based budget.

The result is that some familiar software products don't appear on the list this year—MYOB and BizPlan Builder, for example—as these are in a separate category. At the same time, new products are entering the corporate planning and CPM category, including Prophix, Tagetik and IBM Analytics.

A stream of new entrants should bring even better definition to the industry beginning this year, and may well trigger another round of acquisitions and mergers among the smaller competitors.


AccuFund Budget Development Module
Needham, Mass.
(877) 872-2228
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Price: AccuFund Accounting Suite starts at $2,995 (single user). AccuFund Budget Development module, $1,295 (Standard edition) or $1,695 (Professional edition). AccuFund Anywhere, the online version, starts at $190 per month for the first user. Add-on modules priced between $80 and $110 per month.

AccuFund is an accounting suite designed for non-profits, municipalities and government agencies, with a built-in approval process and reporting module for creation of departmental or project budgets. In addition, it offers a Budget Development module that is able to use historical budgets with incremental increases or decreases for rapid scenario building. The module also allows creation of new budgets based on an existing template or from scratch.

Department managers can create the budget, then access and review all of the budgets and their data from a single screen. Tabbed sections of the screen offer views of the General Budget, Budget Elements, Budget Items, Account Selection, Historical Columns, and Worksheets. Project managers can also create their own budgets, monitoring all activity when necessary. Reports can be created directly from the Budget Development module, and reports can be exported to Excel, PDF, HTML or emailed directly from the screen.

Version 5.04, released in August 2015, offers system features and module enhancements to continually improve usability and convenience.


Adaptive Insights 2015.02
Adaptive Insights
Palo Alto, Calif.
(650) 528-7500
Price: Subscriptions range from about $10,000 to $500,000 per year on top of a startup fee.

Adaptive Insights
Adaptive Insights, a cloud-based corporate performance management system, includes a revenue planning, budgeting and forecasting system for cash flow projection, sales planning and balance sheet forecasting. It provides an Excel-style interface with a familiar drag-and-drop interface.

Key features include the ability to reduce budgeting and forecasting cycle times by up to 90 percent; reduce errors, improve accuracy with cash flow forecasting software; produce timely reporting and analysis, including what-if scenarios; deliver frequent rolling forecasts with sales forecasting software; better, faster, more-informed business decisions; revenue planning and sales forecasting software; drag and drop, self-service reporting via the Web and Office.

Released in September, Version 2015.2 features new "dimension intelligence" capabilities that provide deeper product analysis that includes product types and brands; workforce planning that addresses tenure, skills and employee locations; and sales modeling that integrates with CRM and ERP systems for real-time sales data. It also offers cash flow planning; and other expense planning such as expense tracking for project, fund, or program budgets with unlimited custom dimensions.


Budget Maestro Version 7
Natick, Mass.
(800) 366-5111
(508) 948-0088
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Price: Standard Edition, $5,000 (one user); Advanced Planning Edition, $10,000 (one user). Additional users about $2,500 each (or less depending on volume).

Budget Maestro
Budget Maestro by Centage is a scalable, automated budgeting, planning and forecasting application available in editions for both on-premises and online use. It is designed for small to mid-market companies, and automates many of the time-consuming and error-prone activities associated with using spreadsheets to generate accurate budgets and forecasts. It offers synchronized P&L, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow reporting that generate automatically and seamlessly update themselves.

Budget Maestro is based on pre-programmed budget and finance logic that automatically generates all of the GAAP compliant calculations needed to create financial plans. Key features of the on-premises Version 7 included a number of functional and interface enhancements, all of which apply to its two versions: a standard edition, for organizations with basic budgeting, forecasting and reporting needs; and the more robust Advanced Planning edition, for organizations with more advanced budget planning and performance management requirements.

Both editions are available in client server and hosted (web-based) platforms. Clearly, however, Centage is putting its major development efforts into its cloud-based product, announcing a major upgrade to that platform in last August.


NetSuite Financial Planning
San Mateo, Calif.
(650) 627-1000
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Price: Subscription-based pricing starts at $99 per user per month.

NetSuite Financial Planning
NetSuite is a cloud-based application that delivers automated budgeting, forecasting, reporting, and analysis capabilities and medium and enterprise-level companies. It combines a proven financial modeling engine with powerful, flexible features and an easy-to-use interface with drag-and-drop functionality.

The key benefits are the system's real-time analytics and role-based dashboards; complete cloud delivery; a report builder; an allocation manager; multi-source consolidation support; full drill-down capabilities from financial statement to transaction; and built in CRM and Ecommerce features that enable integrated business processes from order to cash and procure to payment.

NetSuite Financial Planning enables finance professionals to eliminate the need to manage multiple versions of spreadsheets and complex consolidations of data, or worry about version control. The focus instead remains on strategic analysis and higher-level business decisions. The application dramatically reduces budgeting and forecasting cycle times by up to 90 percent; decreases errors for improved accuracy; delivers more complete and frequent forecasts, including rolling forecasts; and improves companywide alignment of plans and budgets.


PlanGuru Version 6
White Plains, N.Y.
(888) 822-6300 ext. 701
Price: Single machine pricing for PlanGuru Starter, $99.95; Basic edition, $399.95; and the Enhanced edition, $799.95.

PlanGuru, a planning, forecasting and projection system able to create budgets for up to 10 years, produces customizable financial statements and reports and automatically calculate financial ratios and breakeven analyses. Available both in desktop and cloud-based configurations, its three editions include a "startup" planning system; a Basic edition that adds Microsoft Excel and QuickBooks integration; and PlanGuru Enhanced which includes additional capabilities such as a business valuation tool and engagement tools for finance professionals.

For all of its flexibility and support tools, PlanGuru benefits from the active participation of a finance professional versed in accounting and finance operations. For this reason, a critical element from the company is its PlanGuru Advisor program. For $499, the advisor received support and the ability to use the software for two clients/companies.

Designed for companies performing annual and strategic planning/budgeting, the program is offers the ability to handle multiple departments and locations; perform rolling forecasts of cash flow from month to month; produce basic financial statements (cash flow, income statement and balance sheet) via an Analytics module; calculate the growth rate of the business; and track historical trends.


Tagetik Software
Stamford, Conn.
(203) 391-7520
Price: One-time cost, $50,000.

Tagetik is an enterprise-level Performance Management System designed for use by companies with annual budgets of more than $300 million or more than 500 employees. It provides a unified platform for financial processes that include panning/budgeting, forecasting, financial consolidations, and financial reporting. It is deployed in a SaaS, private cloud or on-premises configuration.

Key features of the software include version controls; "What-If" scenarios; basic accounting modules for the General Ledger, Balance Sheet, Income Statement and P&L statement; capital asset planning; consolidations and roll-ups; budgeting across multiple departments and project budgeting; forecasting; and cash management tools.

Tagetik unifies the processes of planning, budgeting and forecasting as part of a holistic approach to managing enterprise performance. As a result, management is able to translate strategy into execution; set operational targets from the strategic plan; see how potential sales, production or price changes could affect the bottom line; and achieve the necessary transparency and flexibility to comply with management demands and expanding regulations.


Dave McClure

David P. McClure is a technologist and business consultant whose career has included eight years with the NASA Space Shuttle Program and assignments in marketing, environmental services, software publishing and broadband.  He founded the US Internet Industry Association, the nation's primary trade association for Internet and broadband companies.  In 2004 he was awarded a Cornerstone Award for leadership in the broadband industry.  In the same year, he was named to the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Administrative Corporation, the non-profit corporation that oversees the nation's $8 billion universal service telecommunications fund.  His areas of expertise include software management, strategic and market planning, global technology policy and technology audits.  He is the author of more than 100 white papers on business management, technology, customer service and strategic planning.

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