Navigating the ever-changing business landscape demands precision and agility in forecasting, but it hinges on seamless collaboration between Finance and various stakeholders responsible for the budget.
The main challenge in collaborative budgeting is its inefficiency. Creating an accurate forecast means tapping into insights and experiences from many stakeholders across the business. However, the traditional approach often involves the cumbersome process of sharing spreadsheets, leading to manual and tedious efforts. Moreover, sharing a financial model with stakeholders can introduce multiple risks, including unauthorized data access and a lack of clarity on who made specific changes. In the end, this consumes valuable time that could be better spent on strategy.
Brian Camposano, CEO of Stratify, notes, "FP&A teams should spend their time analyzing data and providing valuable insights for business growth and cost savings. Instead, they get bogged down in time-consuming administrative tasks, like manually orchestrating a data collection process for budgeting."
Stratify has responded by introducing a powerful solution within its financial planning and analysis software to address these challenges.
Solution: Workflows for collaborative budgeting
Stratify workflows, which automate tasks within the software, streamline budgeting and forecasting. Our goal is simple: make it easy and secure for budget owners to proactively participate in planning, all while Finance remains in complete control of the process.
Here is how workflows make the budgeting and planning process efficient and secure:
In Stratify, Finance assigns planning tasks to key stakeholders, often department heads or business unit leaders. These stakeholders provide their insights and budget assumptions, with the ability to see the impact of those assumptions before submitting them back to Finance.
Stratify’s delivered, configurable business logic makes this possible. There are no complex formulas to decipher, so Finance and stakeholders can plan assumptions in clear business language.
Finance sees the status of all assigned tasks in one central location. A finance manager can accept stakeholder input or engage in an in-app dialogue until they align with the budget owner. Stratify also handles version control seamlessly, ensuring everyone collaborates on the same plan with up-to-date information.
Stratify's platform streamlines data gathering and exchanges, allowing finance professionals and department heads to focus on strategic discussions.
Now, let's dive into a practical demonstration of how this feature operates.
A workflow example in Stratify
All Tasks hub for finance managers
To gather input for the FY24 budget, Anna, a finance business partner, has assigned workflow Tasks to each of her business unit leaders, or stakeholders. These Tasks are grouped together into a Stratify planning Activity, which she has named “FY 2024 Budget.”
In this case, each Task requests her stakeholders to review and edit a set of departments and associated general ledger accounts she has scoped for them. Let’s look at the Task assigned to John, the Sales Ops Manager.
Stakeholder reviews an assigned budgeting Task
John, the Sales Ops manager, receives an email or in-app notification that Anna would like him to provide input to the FY24 Budget. He's asked to review a number of expense items, and some include comments and questions from Anna at the line item level.
John starts the Task, and easily adds, deletes, and modifies various expenses based on his first-hand knowledge of the CRO’s plans.
For example, John knows that Field Sales plans to do more in-person meetings, so he adjusts the assumption for Field Sales Travel & Entertainment from $1,500/month to $2,000/month per sales headcount. John also leaves Anna a note explaining the change.
John can also add new expenses, like a $12,000 software contract, that he allocates over twelve months, or a new line item for a training event in March.
When he’s done reviewing all line items, he takes a look at the impact of his work. For example, John can see how his new proposed budget compares to prior year actuals. He can also see a change log of all his activity, and can provide a note to Anna summarizing his proposal. He then submits the Task back to Anna for review.
Finance manager’s approval of the submitted task
When Anna reviews John’s submitted Task, she too can see the impact of John’s proposal and the log of every change John is recommending. She has the option to comment back to John and continue their collaboration on these accounts, or approve the Task. Once they are in alignment on plan assumptions, she approves the Task and marks it complete.
Completing an Activity
When Anna has finished this process with each of her stakeholders she marks the plan Activity complete. Each stakeholder’s assumptions are incorporated into the budget. Stakeholders can access their assumptions, but they are no longer editable.
Stratify’s task-based workflows power efficient, coordinated planning
With Stratify, Finance teams are able to orchestrate a truly collaborative and coordinated planning experience. No more tracking down stakeholders, interpreting bespoke spreadsheets, or navigating version control issues to arrive at a final plan. Stratify workflows remove the inefficient, manual processes that bog down organizations, and allow both Finance teams and business stakeholders to focus on higher value activities and execution.
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