The end of the year is a crucial time for any chief financial officer. When looking ahead to the year ahead, effective budget planning and forecasting can help you prepare for the future, strategize effectively, and align your goals across the entire organization.

The evolving role of the CFO

The pace of change and broader economic impacts experienced during the global pandemic have accelerated a significant shift in the traditional role of the CFO.

In the past, much of your role as a finance leader would have involved handling retrospective details such as period closing, reconciling GL transactions, matching invoices or requesting cash.

Today you are likely to oversee more areas of the business than ever before and take on additional areas of responsibility as well.

“In crisis situations and beyond, CFOs face new challenges as a strategist, rather than an accountant.”

CFO of the future, Oracle

And as your company’s finance and IT departments continue to collaborate more closely, your role is likely to include responsibilities related to data management, data science, and information technology as well.

“79% of professionals see a need to invest in task automation and data capture.”

The future of planning, budgeting, forecasting and reporting

Looking forward, not backwards

Today, times of economic uncertainty, such as those caused by the pandemic and ongoing international conflicts, will see you drawn into more discussions about business planning and strategy.

And that means shifting your year-end focus to more forward-thinking activities like forecasting and budgeting, with investments in the tools and software needed to get it right.

“Business needs are growing. The pace of innovation is accelerating. CFOs can plan for change or plan for retirement.”

Deloitte, Crunch time V, Finance 2025

Accuracy, speed and range

Forecasting and budgeting are crucial components of any company’s growth journey, especially during times of change.

The effectiveness of any process depends heavily on providing accurate information to financial planning and analysis teams.

This must be done in speed. And on a scale where they can make crucial company-wide plans, match business goals to budgets, and support the meaningful business decisions you need to make.

“78% of professionals want to invest in supporting their IT teams to establish stronger ties with data sources.”

Future of planning, budgeting, forecasting and reporting,

Eliminate frustrations

Common frustrations with today’s financial and accounting systems include the slow speed with which period-end closing and reporting processes are performed. And the fact that the financial information they provide is minimal.

And for CFOs, those restrictions can limit visibility into what’s happening in your organization as it relates to cash and liquid assets, making accurate year-end forecasting and budgeting extremely challenging.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Budgeting and scheduling was a nightmare… if a formula didn’t work, you had to spend hours or days trying to figure out what was wrong. [With Sage Intacct] we save many, many hours… We could probably budget in a week instead of a month.”

Amanda Goebel, senior accountant, Halstatt

Get away from spreadsheets

Investing in ways to provide accurate information to financial planning and analysis teams quickly and at scale can mean abandoning manual tasks and spreadsheets.

That’s because, while many midsize businesses rely on manual tasks and spreadsheets for budgeting and forecasting, they are labor intensive, take a long time to complete, and can be difficult to manage across an organization.

“Only 43% of organizations can expect revenue within +/-5%”

The future of planning, budgeting, forecasting and reporting

Emerging technologies for greater visibility

Today, financial management software and tools can play a vital role in creating greater and more accurate visibility and can streamline manual processes to make budgeting and forecasting easier.

And as the most senior finance professional in your organisation, you can expect to be called on to lead new investments in finance, enterprise resource planning and analytics.

The increased visibility provided by today’s tools and software can help guide and create effective long-term capital appropriation plans for your organization. And help you understand which KPIs you need to watch to steer your business to safety in times of crisis.

All the more reason to invest in software and tools that keep your business flowing. And it means budget planning and forecasting is done quickly and with the required accuracy and scale.

For example, switching to data and analytics software can allow you to report on data from multiple internal and/or external sources within a single system and interface and help you make more informed decisions.

“75% of professionals see the need to invest in the complete standardization of all processes within their organization.”

The future of planning, budgeting, forecasting and reporting.

Enterprise intelligence solutions can help you manage your data and make informed decisions in real time, eliminating the need for disparate tools and specialized skills.

Using software to streamline financial management and gain better visibility can bolster margins from pipeline to ongoing projects for the year ahead.

Budget planning and forecasting

Typically, as the CFO, you will create a budget as a road map before developing a financial forecast. Your budget will help you determine how much money your organization will need to spend to achieve the goals you’ve outlined.

Creating your budget will also reveal the shape and direction of your organization’s finances. At the same time, a forecast will highlight whether you are meeting the financial goals you have outlined.

And while you typically prepare a short-term budget and use it to help your management team set expectations for where your organization wants to go, your forecasting process will be short- and long-term.

This is because the forecast measures where your business is actually headed. A forecast can be adjusted and fine-tuned beyond the end of the year to accommodate any emerging changes in your business situation or the economic conditions under which you operate.

Efficient forecasting with reliable data provides valuable insights that allow you to proactively reallocate resources. And it can help managers in your organization make data-driven decisions with confidence.

Software to simplify

Today’s software solutions can allow you to take control of the budgeting process, eliminating the time-consuming administrative work traditionally involved to free you up to focus on high-value items.

Using the right software can transform the way you plan, budget, and report. You can automate your essential financial and operational processes and make your organization more agile and profitable, all while reducing risk.

Several solutions can help you align strategies and priorities, meet your financial goals, and adapt quickly to market changes to avoid surprises.

Easy end of the year

Sage software is designed to help you stay financially alert. We’re here to help you streamline your business and easily prepare for the year-end close.

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