Take Control of the Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting Process (Video)
In this recorded webinar, you’ll see how True Sky gives you complete control over the budgeting process while leveraging the power and functionality of Excel.
True Sky’s easy to use interface, powerful data tools, and sophisticated access to data and reporting functionality cuts the time you spend budgeting in half.
Melissa: Hi, there, everyone. Thanks for joining us today. Today, we’ve got Alan Whitehouse here from True Sky, and he’s gonna be talking about taking control of your budgeting, planning, and forecasting. Hi there, Alan. Thanks for joining us.
Alan: Thank you very much for having me. All right.
Alan: Okay. So, anything else, or just get going here, I guess?
Melissa: I think we just wanna say, if you have any questions, you can put them here in the Question pane and we’ll tackle them at the end.
Alan: All right. Great. Well, what I’m gonna do is show you a little bit about True Sky and how we can help you take control of your budgeting, planning, and forecasting process. I’m gonna have a few slides to go through first, and then I’m gonna show you some actual software demonstration during this. A couple of things. You know, this is being recorded, so you have it. If you have any questions, submit them. Everyone’s on mute, so submit them, and we will answer them at the end. And I don’t know if we’re gonna have an exit survey pop up or not, but if it does, please take a little bit of time to fill that out.
So, what I’d like to start with is just to kinda clarify why you might want to look at an application for doing budgeting and forecasting. So, most of you are probably using Excel today. And as we all know, Excel is a very powerful tool. It’s flexible, it allows you to do any kind of process, it’s got great calculation capabilities and rich, you know, presentation layer, and it’s always got a high user adoption rate. The problem is, it’s not a perfect tool, it’s not a database. You know, you’ve got all of those different worksheets and workbooks you try to interlink, you’ve got a whole bunch of manual steps, you don’t have any workflow or audit trails, and then there’s always, you know, multiple versions of the same workbook, and which is right, and which one you should be working with. And at the end of the day, it’s quite error-prone.
In fact, 90% of all spreadsheets contain some form of error. Now, some of these might be minor, some of these might be major, right? As an example, J. P. Morgan lost $6 billion because of copy and paste, right? So, obviously, most of yours, let’s hope, are not to that extreme, but, you know, cycle these back, your spreadsheets do have errors. And when you’re trying to use that to kind of determine where you’re gonna be, to project where your business is going, those kind of errors can be material.
So, why should you look at something like True Sky? Well, True Sky is gonna allow you to focus on the high-value process of doing budgeting and forecast rather than the whole drudgery side of things. And with that, there are three main groups that we’re gonna help with the budgeting and forecasting process. The first one is contributors. Those are the frontline people that are doing the primary data entry for the budget. And we’re gonna help reduce time and effort it takes to do a budget or a forecast. When it comes to the finance group, we’re gonna dramatically cut down your administration overhead, and ultimately, because of some of the tools that we have, increase the quality of what you put back out at the end of the day. And when it comes to decision-makers, we’re gonna provide them meaningful information that’s gonna help them reduce risk and avoid surprises.
Well, what are some of our key pillars of True Sky? Well, the first one that I wanna talk about is we’re gonna still allow you to leverage Excel. Now, again, earlier on, I was talking that Excel is error-prone and everything else, and that’s really because it’s not designed to be used the way you’re using it with multiple users working on a budgeting and forecasting process. But that’s one of the things that we deal with with True Sky. So, we allow you to continue to use Excel as your end-user interface, which means you’re gonna have rapid user adoption, you’re gonna have minimal training on a new application, you’re gonna get to leverage all the depth and breadth of functionality that Excel currently has. You’re gonna have all that flexibility, but then you’re gonna get all the enhancements and controls that True Sky adds into the process.
Now, when it comes to the finance group, we’re gonna help empower you. And how do we do that? Well, we’re gonna centralize your data. No longer you’re gonna have data stored in 100 different Excel workbooks, in your ERP system, in your CRM system, and what have you. We’re gonna give you things like audit trails. We’re gonna give you not only application but also data security. We’re gonna give you real-time merging of all of your data, something that you don’t have in Excel today. We’re gonna give you direct integration to all of your different data sources so you don’t have to do that copy-paste, all that manual manipulation. We’re gonna help you with accountability when it comes to budgeting, forecasting, and reporting. And because of our Build Once Design, you’re gonna dramatically cut down the amount of effort that it takes to manage the process.
Now, when it comes to decision-makers and everyone else, we’re gonna help facilitate knowledge. We’re gonna allow you to easily involve more people in the budgeting and forecasting process, more people that are closer to the action, who know their piece of the puzzle the best, right? We’re gonna allow you to capture qualitative and quantitative information, right? So, the numbers and the thought process behind the numbers, things that really go into knowing how well your budget is. We’re gonna give you deep-dive analytics, we’re gonna help increase your accuracy, and we’re gonna, at the end of the day, give you decision level information.
Now, what are some of the things that True Sky can do? Now, these are just some of the items, it’s not everything. So, it can be financial budgeting, compensation planning, sales and revenue forecasting, operational or CapEx planning with your organization, project costing, project revenue forecasting, production planning, inventory planning. All of those kind of forecasting and budgeting is available with True Sky. When it comes to reporting and dashboarding, we give you consolidated budget reports. We’re also gonna give you presentation-quality reports, including income statements, balance sheet, cash flow statements, budget to actual variance analysis reports, FTE and headcount reports, as well as KPIs and dashboards. Now, you don’t have to do all of this, you can pick and choose what of this makes sense for you in an organization. And you can start with one thing and continue to add on and build on it over the course of time. But I wanted to show you a whole depth and breadth of everything that we have available within True Sky.
So, with that, I’m going to stop showing you slides and I’m going to show you some of our application. Now, keep in mind, we have a limited amount of time here, so I’m just gonna give you an overview of the kind of things that we do. Do not think that this is everything that we do. And, again, at the end, if you have questions, feel free to ask them, type them in the GoToWebinar Question bar there, please. All right. So, right now, up on screen, you’re seeing Excel. Again, I’m gonna show you how the end-user interface of True Sky works. So, Home, Insert, Page Layout, these are all the traditional tabs that you see in Excel.
And then, here’s where we come in, which is the True Sky tab, all right? So, everything from an end-user, all they have to worry about is what’s here in Excel. They never have to go to, like, a web browser to start the process, and download that, and go to a different application with a data grid to type it in, and then maybe download it into Excel, and reupload it, and so forth. All they have to worry about is one interface. It’s one of the reasons why training for True Sky goes so rapidly.
Now, I’m not gonna spend a whole lot of time on this, but we do support multiple languages. So, if you have to support different languages with your deployment…again, you are cross-border, or as an example, within Canada, you’ve got operations in Quebec. We support things like English, French, Spanish, you know, a whole bunch of different languages. And, again, different people, same system can be working in the language of their choice, as well as the numbering format schema of their choice as well. So, again, if you have those kind of requirements, True Sky can meet that for you as well.
Now, what I’m gonna focus on here is this little button that’s called the Hub. The Hub is the central area where a user goes to know what they have to work on within True Sky. I’m gonna focus on two different tabs here, Assignments and Reports. Assignments are input sheets, they’re how you get data into the system. And as an example, for the annual budget cycle, I’m supposed to work on office expenses and travel expenses. With Reports, under Financial Statements. I have four different financial statements available to me and three different dashboards.
This is what I see when I log in. When another user logs in to True Sky, they’re gonna see something specific to them. They may not get access to any of the dashboards, they may not get access to any of the financial statements, they may only have the assignment to work on office expenses. Everything we do in True Sky dynamically renders itself to the individual user based on their security settings and what has been published by an administrator. So, again, it’s how we spoonfeed usage to those end-users and why it makes it easy for end-users to pick up and run with True Sky, they only have to worry about what they see here.
Now, I’m gonna focus on Office Expenses for the start of this presentation. So, first thing we’re gonna give you is that control that you don’t necessarily have with Excel by itself. So, you get to control when people can start working on the budget, and more importantly, you can lock them out of a budget cycle when it’s time to move on, right? So, again, when the budget cycle’s done, you lock people out. You don’t have to worry about those random changes that can happen just in Excel by itself. So, never worry about who made that change, when and where did that come in, you know, you’ve got that control.
We also have a complete workflow approval engine built into True Sky that allows you to route your numbers through various different levels of approval as well, if you choose to do that. So, again, you can get more people involved in the process but still have a formalized approval process and routing of your numbers. Now, what I’ve done is I’ve opened up my assignment for Office Expenses. And the first tab is, traditionally, you know, instructions reminding people of some of the rules that are going on.
But what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna focus over here on this tab, which is the input tab for Office Expenses, right? Now, down here, over the left side, these are my slicers, my dimensions, my filters, whatever term you would like to use. These filters, in my example, are location department and currency. Your filters will be completely up to you based on your data sources and the kind of business process that you’re modeling. So, if you’re doing, say, sales revenue forecasting, you may have slicers for customer or product. If you’re doing compensation, you might have a slicer for employee. So, again, all of these get tailored to your organization.
One other thing. If we’re gonna integrate to your back-end data source, your accounting package, if you add a new location or a new department to the master record system, we’re gonna pick it up automatically, so you don’t have to manually maintain two different systems, okay? It’s one of the things that we’re gonna make you more efficient, we’re gonna make, you know, no copy-paste, that direct integration’s gonna save you a huge amount of time. Now, when I wanna work with a different location, I can simply come in here and pick a different location to work with. Now, again, this is all controlled through our security model, so if I don’t get access to the Seattle warehouse, I won’t even see it on the list.
We can also do roll-up reports. So, again, if I wanted to just see data for my California operations, I could click right here, and it would roll up all of my data for California, as an example. So, again, a lot of interactivity without having to create 1,000 different reports and so forth. So, I’m gonna go ahead and retrieve data for my Seattle office for the Corporate Department, all right? And now, it’s bringing back the latest data that we have in the system and also filtering it for me based on my security and what I am allowed to see and to work with, all right? So, this will take just a second and it will populate here for you.
Now, the first thing I’d like to show you…I’m gonna close down my Filter pane. What you see on rows, what you see on columns, color, shading, font control, completely up to you and how you want things configured. We also have security. So, if I don’t get access to company cars but the person sitting next to me does, I won’t see it on this list, they will. Now, I’m choosing to do 12 months of budget and 12 months of actual. But, again, you can have multiple prior years of actual, multiple prior years of budget, whatever it makes sense. I’m budgeting monthly, but we also support daily, weekly, quarterly, or yearly as your granularity. I’m budgeting on a calendar year, but you can also be budgeting on a fiscal year, or a funding year, or a school year. Enter on a fiscal, report on a calendar, enter on a calendar, report on the funding year, whatever the case may be. So, you’ve got all of that kind of robust functionality that you can configure to, you know, have the application meet your needs, not you change your needs to meet that of the application.
Now, when it starts coming down to entry, I can just do direct entry, I can do copy-paste, I can do click-and-drag. And if you look at the formula I’m typing, this is a true Excel formula, not Excel-like. So, I don’t have to, you know, learn a new syntax just to learn this application. And the moment I hit Save, my numbers are saved to the back-end database where they’re instantly available to any other user to see in real-time. No, check-in, no checkout, no shared drives, no linked spreadsheets, and so forth. Again, we’re gonna make you more efficient that way. But we’ve also added a lot of other stuff to the application that takes us to the next level.
One of those is audit trails. So, anytime someone enters a number into True Sky, we tag what was the number, what was the date and time, who was the user, and what was the assignment in play when they entered that number. So, again, if you’ve ever had that situation where it’s like, “I don’t know how those numbers got in the system, I don’t know where they came from.” Great. Right here, you’ve got that full accountability to who put what numbers in when. And you can copy those older numbers back in if you like those numbers better. We give you the ability to add commentary to your numbers. And unlike notes that are embedded in the Excel workbook, ours are stored in the database and they follow the data around. So, a note entered in one screen will be immediately available on Reports or to any other user.
When you add notes, you can actually add as many as you like here, right? You can even add electronic attachments. So, if you’ve got copies of, say, you know, vendor quotes, or a business justification…sorry, this popped up on my other screen…you can actually store them here. So, because of these notes and these attachments, we’re trying to centralize all of your important budgeting and forecasting information into one area. We’re also trying to make budgeting and forecasting more collaborative and get rid of all those one-off emails that go back and forth between different users. We have a whole series of data tools, and these data tools allow you to do bulk manipulation of your numbers at one time.
And I’m not gonna go into these heavily, but let’s say I wanted to spread my numbers across the whole year evenly, right? Instead of going sell, buy, sell, buy, sell, I could actually choose Even and hit Replace, and it’ll do the math for me. Or maybe I know that, “You know what? You’ve got some seasonality to your business,” and I wanna build in seasonality spreading to my system. Right there, if I choose Seasonality and hit Replace, you’ll see it put more to the summer months and less in the winter months. Or maybe I wanna base my numbers this year based on last year’s, I can do that as well. Or if I have a whole series of numbers here, and what I wanna do is increase them by, say, 23.5%, instead of going sell, buy, sell, I come in here and do bulk increases.
Now, these tools do a lot more, but again, we have limited time, so I just wanted to give you a flavor for them. Again, the goal of these tools is to improve the quality of your numbers but also get your people in and out quicker into the system. Other things that we allow you to do with True Sky, buildups of your numbers. So, employee training. I’m budgeting at that level. Instead of having a separate spreadsheet on my desktop that gets lost about, you know, what are training classes that we’re actually budgeting for, we can allow you to add those in-line in real-time. So, right here, I’m gonna add a new line, and I’m gonna say… And, again, I’m adding these on the fly, right?
And now, when I save this, not only will it save, you know, all of my line and details, it also saves my top-line numbers. So, when I go to submit for approval, my boss can open this up and say, “Hey, Alan, I think you’re going a little bit heavy. I think you need to cut back on training.” Or, more importantly, six months from now, when you’re doing a budget to actual report, or maybe it’s an income statement you wanna look at, you wanna say, “Okay, why are we under budget on employee training?” Well, guess what? Right there, without having to hunt for any other additional worksheets or workbooks, you can open this up and say, “Hey, well, that’s because we budgeted for Mark to go on these two HR classes, and Mark left the organization, and we didn’t have to send him on the training,” right? So, again, consolidating all of your important information into one place, getting it easy to work on, not having to hunt and peck through 1,000 different things.
Now, I’m doing dollar-based entry right here. But we also support driver-based budgeting as well. So, you can see up here, I could capture things like headcount. And if you look down here, kitchen and cleaning supplies, if I try to edit those numbers, you’ll see I can’t actually change that. But if I change my headcount number, you’ll see that my kitchen and cleaning supply number has changed. So, again, numbers entered into one area of the system can automatically drive numbers put into a different area of the system.
Again, you’ve got the ability to not just capture dollars but quantities, rates, headcounts, square footage, you know, any kind of drivers that go along with your budgeting and forecasting process, all right? So, again, we’re making you more efficient, we’re getting you out of that just, you know, doing numbers and stuff. And, again, while you’re doing budget entry, if people like to see visually how their numbers are building up, you can actually give them visualizations at the same time while you’re doing this. So, again, however you like to consume data, we’ve got a lot of different ways that you can do that.
All right. Some other things that we bring to the table as an application. And if you look here, I’m gonna put in some really, really big numbers right here. And you see these icons go from green, to yellow, to red. Well, these are visual indicators that this user is somehow not meeting one of the data input rules that you’ve laid down. So, a lot of times, you’re giving people guidance for cuts or increases that need to happen during the budget cycle. A lot of times, those go out in email and people ignore those emails, right? Well, you can build those rules into the process. So, I’m gonna have my Validate button here, and immediately it tells me every one of my numbers that’s wrong and what is wrong with it. And in my example, I’m comparing any given line this year to what we spent last year. And if I’ve got a 0% to 10% increase, I’m getting a green, a 10% to 20% increase is a yellow, and an over 20% increase is a red.
Again, these rules can be very specific or very broad, kind of depending on what you need. These can also be integrated with the workflow approval process, such that if I’ve got greens, great, data goes in clean, no problem. But if I’ve got yellows on the board, maybe I get a warning when I submit for approval. And if you really wanna get control, you can set things up such that if I’ve got reds on the board, my numbers are so far out of whack, that I’m not even gonna be allowed to submit them for approval because they’re just gonna get rejected anyhow and they’re wasting everybody’s time. So, again, just one of the ways that we added that control and help improve the quality of the numbers that you have in the system.
Now, I wanna switch gears for a little bit and make the transition from budgeting into analytics kinda thing. So, a lot of times, when people are doing a budget or reviewing reports, they’re gonna look at this and say, “Okay, how did I spend $1.2 million last year?” Well, what would they normally do? They’re probably gonna type up an email, or get on the phone, call somebody in the accounting or finance group, ask them for this backup information, and somebody in accounting and finance is gonna have to stop what they’re doing, run some kinda report, dump it into Excel, reformat or whatever.
There’s a time delay, it’s adding to the workload of the accounting and finance group. Well, why don’t we just give all of your users direct integration back into source data in real-time? So, right here, I’m gonna run this little link, what we call links, and it’s making a real-time callback into the source system and, in this example, bringing me back all the AP and purchase order transactions that are relevant to my location, my department, for what I have up on screen, for what I’m doing.
So, a couple of things. We’ve got security, so people aren’t getting into things where they shouldn’t be able to see. We also have the ability to limit what time they’re looking at, right? So, they’re not seeing 10 years of data. In my example, I’m only seeing 1 year. But now that I have a list of all the AP and purchase orders that are up, what do I wanna do with it? Well, maybe I wanna sort this from lowest to highest or highest to lowest. I mean, that’s part of my analysis. Or you know what, maybe I’m just concerned right now with what is my top 10 spend? Well, my top 10 spend was that. And let me see what does that come to because I don’t like doing that math in my head. Well, my top 10 spend came to almost $25,000. Okay. So, that’s one view. Let me clear that out.
But let me look at it slightly differently. Maybe now what I wanna do is I’m gonna group this by my account name. Excuse me. And I could see I’m spending money on company cars, company meetings. So, I’m gonna throw in the vendor name right there, right? So, now with the vendor name…I’m gonna expand this in now. Supply software, I expand this, I’m spending on Adobe, CamSoft, Mobile Warehouse. Well, what did I do with Mobile Warehouse? Well, right there, there’s a tablet purchase that got booked to the software account. So, it got booked to the wrong GL account, or got booked to my department when it’s somebody else’s.
So, again, the goal here is making all this information available to your users at their fingertips. They wanna look at it at 2:00 a.m. on a Sunday, they’ve got what they need, no excuses. And I can use this to do ad hoc reporting. So, again, I hit the Export to Excel button, I go right here. And what it’s gonna do is take the information that I’ve got here and just put it out into Excel. And now I can do whatever I want with it. It’s even gonna give me the groupings that I had in play right there. So, now I’ve got all this information, and we’re offloading work off of the accounting and finance group. Now, other things that True Sky can do that I wanna make sure you know that we can. I’m not gonna spend a whole lot of time on this. But presentation-quality, financial statements. Any kind of data we’ve got in True Sky, we can report on. So, if you’re using something like an FRx, or an MR, or Forecaster, or whatever, we can be a complete replacement for all of those components.
Right here, you can see, again, I’m showing projected, and budget, and variance. Again, you can have many years of actuals and so forth. But right here, you see, I can bring in actuals for the first part of the year and then budget for the rest. Again, doing these rolling forecasts available with True Sky. And I can also drill down this way to see all of the information that I want to get to. And I can do the same kind of drill-downs that I was doing before. And, again, any of these on screen, I can print them or I can email them out depending on what the requirement is there.
True Sky can also be a dashboarding tool, okay? So, any data that we have, you can do dashboards on within True Sky. Dashboards can also be interactive. So, right here is one for financials. But if I wanted to play with revenue…you know, what’s gonna be the effect on our bottom line if we can increase revenue by 200% but that can’t happen until August? Now, you can see how all of my charts and my numbers changed. Well, let’s see if we want to decrease, you know, expenses by 50% starting in January, what’s the change, right?
So, you’ve got all of this capability with True Sky. You have the ability to do budgeting and forecasting of any business process, rolling forecasts out as many periods as you want to go. You have reporting, you have analytics, and you have dashboard. So, that kinda gives you an idea of our application. What I’m gonna do is just do a couple of wrap-up slides, and then I will open it up for any kind of questions. So, again, any kind of budgeting, planning, and forecasting process that you wanna do, as well as reporting and dashboarding.
So, True Sky. You’re gonna get all the strengths of Excel, you’re gonna get the control that you don’t have today, and at the end of the day, you’re gonna have an enterprise solution to help you manage your budgeting and your forecasting, all right? So, up on screen is a little bit more of our contact information. If you wanna go to our website, there’s some more videos up there that you can look at, and some more product information, and so forth. But if what I have shown you is of interest, please contact Encore, right? They are one of our business partners. We will set up a time to do a more in-depth demo for you, kind of talking about your requirements to make sure we’re the right fit for you, talk about all the value that we can bring to you, and then, ultimately, at the end of the day, give you a proposal to help go forward.
So, with that, before you drop off, I’m gonna say thank you for taking time out of your day to watch our presentation. I hope you found it informative. And, again, if you do have any requirements about budgeting for us, please contact us or Encore. And with that, I will open it up to any kind of questions. And, again, if you have to drop off, thanks for attending, and have a great rest of the day.
Melissa: Thanks so much, Alan. I feel like you got tons of information in in that short period of time. I don’t see any questions here at the moment, but we will be emailing out this recording to everybody who registered, and you can definitely contact us with any questions you have about True Sky. So, I think we could probably give a few minutes back to everybody. Okay, have a good afternoon, everyone.
Alan: Thank you, everyone.
"We met our three project goals of 100% completion of critical business requirements at Go Live, completed with 90% Best Practices or better, and GO Live done in a timely manner."