DIY Excel or Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) Software – Build or Buy?

FP&A software

Government Contractors (GovCons) know that being nimble is the key to success. Competitive bidding, inflation/recession cycles, and new and changing regulations all make for budget uncertainties. Until recently, do-it-Yourself Excel based planning was the best option for navigating these challenges.

Change is inevitable… FP&A software can now automatically harness the vast stores of financial data that a business generates and allow businesses to rapidly manage and mold that data free from the error-prone environment of Excel spreadsheets.

From Building Worksheets To Generating Bottom-Line Results

Traditionally, GovCons have relied on Excel to create their own complex spreadsheets to crunch the numbers that produce financial scenarios. Companies have reasoned that these customized detailed models would help ensure that the financial forecasts encompassed the specific and extensive information required for serving the government market.

While technology might be secondary to a management team’s skills, knowledge, and expertise, a cloud-based financial planning and analysis software platform called Nue can free that team’s time spent collecting, compiling, and maintaining data by as much as 50% in the first year and up to 70% in consecutive years. This time saved can now be spent working directly with the data.

Nue was developed uniquely for project-based companies that serve government and commercial customers. We have applied lessons learned working with the complexities of Excel models to create a platform that delivers both a streamlined financial forecasting process with greater depth and detail than spreadsheets. Nue pulls data directly from accounting and CRM systems, bypassing the labor and the possibility of incorrect manual entries. Management can run an unlimited number of scenarios and then quickly publish those results through flexible reporting and targeted interactive visuals for key stakeholders.

So…should you build or buy? Here are our recommendations:

5 Reasons To Take The Leap From Worksheets To Advanced Financial Planning

  1. GovCon Reporting and Compliance. Instead of worrying about complex cost pool calculations or painstaking updates, you can run new scenarios whenever the market or your situation dictates. Nue supports compliant responses to Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) budget requests, such as proposal rate impact assessments and establishing forward pricing rates or provisional billing indirect rates. You can even prepare a mockup of an entirely new cost pool structure to support approval, such as adding a handling rate with a value-added G&A base. There is a variety of cost and indirect rate reporting and an integrated pipeline to capture new business estimates factored by probability of win (pWin).
  2. Reduce Plan Maintenance. A financial plan is only effective when you can measure against it. Measurement comes from incorporating actual results as the year progresses. Equally important is measuring changes in the business outlook. What does it look like if you lose your contract bid or unexpectedly win new business? What if your client moves the project start date back to 90 days? Nue eliminates the tedious effort of integrating actual results, new pipeline assumptions, and other forecast assumptions into a worksheet, creating what is arguably the biggest return on investment in Nue: Managers can spend their time using data to plot a profitable course.
  3. Avoid Human Error. Spreadsheet construction and use are prone to inaccuracies even among experienced Excel users. Errors that are not caught during spreadsheet construction are more difficult to detect and notoriously expensive to correct. It is very easy to delete a row, change a formula or not move a sum range to accommodate new rows.  More time is spent double-checking Excel compared to the algorithms and checks and balances incorporated in software.
  4. Improve Version Control and Sharing. Even with share file capabilities such as SharePoint, an Excel-based environment presents challenges to maintaining the integrity of spreadsheet versions and ensuring they incorporate the latest actual results, and Nue supports data sharing and collaboration for an unlimited number of scenarios. You can deploy software access to any number of users with secure authentication.
  5. Ensure Completeness. Throughout years of financial consulting, we have seen companies produce what they believe is a detailed financial plan, only to find that they missed critical aspects of their balance sheet, cash flow, and scenario planning. Nue allows for rapid balance sheet development to create a complete view. When you update your income statement, the balance sheet is refreshed. The reverse occurs as well.  Other output for indirect rate forecasts, waterfall reporting, multi-year forecasts, cash-basis taxable income forecasts, and dashboard updates as well.

Nue makes your transition even easier by integrating with your current accounting software (QuickBooks Online, Unanet, and Deltek) and accommodating data exports to Excel.  It actually takes less time to implement Nue than to create comparable information in an Excel environment.

Seeing is believing—please contact us for more information and a free demonstration at your convenience.