Transform Budgeting, Planning and Reporting

With the "Machinery of Government" changes introduced by Theresa May bedding in, and as we move ahead with plans for Brexit, the UK public sector can expect a whole raft of new strategies and policies.

Reacting to Change
Whilst the bulk of public services will continue unchanged on a day to day basis, there will inevitably be uncertainty in many areas and fresh initiatives in others. Leadership teams must react quickly to such changing circumstances, reassessing priorities and adjusting financial budgets and business plans.

Historically, preparing and updating budgets and plans has been a time-consuming and manually intensive process, and one prone to error. To make matters worse, once completed, the results are often already outdated or simply don’t include all the information that line-of-business managers need to support day-to-day operations and decision making. But why is the process of financial performance management so broken?

Dependence on Spreadsheets
Often, it’s because the budgeting, planning and reporting technologies being used are simply not up to the job, with a dependence on spreadsheets and email.

Spreadsheets remain popular because they are familiar and readily available. But they come with a series of challenges:

  • Formulas and links to other spreadsheets are hard to manage and easy to break
  • Poor security and governance, with a lack of controls on who can see what
  • Lack of version control: as spreadsheets are passed from one user to another, often through email, it becomes increasingly difficult to know which version is the most current
  • Reliance on manual data input that is time consuming and risks errors of transcription, but is the fall-back position in the absence of integration with operational applications
  • Consequently inaccuracies and delays are almost inevitable.

Quite simply, relying on spreadsheets in today's fast-paced, data-driven, world just doesn't make sense.

Centralised, Integrated Planning and Reporting
Instead, public sector bodies need to introduce formal planning and reporting tools to meet the need for integrated and flexible financial planning and reporting solutions.

By applying centralised, integrated planning processes, ‘one version of the truth’ can be achieved, with budgets and forecasts developed far more quickly and accurately. With less time needed to source the information, create reports and test different scenarios, finance and business teams can focus on in-depth analysis of the results to improve decision making.

IBM Planning Analytics Transforms Budgeting, Reporting and Forecasting
Recognising this need, InfoCat offers IBM Planning Analytics to transform the budgeting, reporting and forecasting process. Planning Analytics provides a cloud-based, managed, governed and secure environment for all planning, analysis and reporting activities - whether personal, workgroup or organisation-wide.

Benefits that can be expected from adopting IBM Planning Analytics include:

  • Centralised, integrated application holds all actuals and plan data, ensuring consistency of business structures, business rules and calculations
  • Accelerated timescale to develop budgets, plans and reports leaves more time for in-depth analysis, leading to improved business decisions
  • Enables all departments to participate in a collaborative process
  • Facilitates running what-if scenarios more frequently, to react quickly to changing business conditions
  • Flexible reporting options, from dashboards and scorecards through to traditional reports and charts, support all levels of user

Planning Analytics is built on the highly regarded IBM Cognos TM1 platform, already used by many public sector bodies.

Case Study: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
An excellent example of the software in central government is at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (now part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) who have transformed their reporting and planning processes.

Iain King, Deputy Director, Finance and Corporate Services, explains: "We quickly realised that automation and analytics would be fundamental in helping us evolve into a next-generation finance function. We need to be able to identify opportunities to drive greater efficiencies and meet our budget reduction targets. Bringing all of our data together means that we can create reports and analyse the data much more easily and quickly." Read the case study at http://www.infocat.co.uk/downloads/download-bis.

Buying Through G-Cloud
For UK public sector bodies, it is now easier than ever before to adopt IBM Planning Analytics as a cloud-based reporting and planning solution as it is available from IBM Premier Partner InfoCat on the Government's Digital Marketplace through G-Cloud.

Procurement through G-Cloud is simple and fast. It eliminates the need for time-consuming competitive tenders, with pricing and contract terms pre-defined.

For more information on Planning Analytics and the benefits it can bring to public sector bodies, visit the Digital Marketplace website at 
https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/g-cloud/services/665073076....

About InfoCat
Founded by a team of qualified accountants 23 years ago, InfoCat has a long pedigree of helping organisations cope with change, by implementing powerful, flexible, planning and reporting applications. Post-implementation, the dedicated support desk provides a high level of personal service by qualified consultants.

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