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Budgeting is how businesses plan, allocate and disburse the balance of their income and expenses. A budget often includes estimated revenue, fixed costs, variable costs, one-off costs, cash flow, and profit. The overall budget consists of different types of budgets, such as basic, current, and fixed, as well as different functional budgets, such as sales and marketing. Typically, at a pre-defined point during the year, companies begin the process of working with different departments throughout the organization to forecast how much they will spend based on historical spending data and predictions of future spending. The process can be time-consuming and complex, but it is critical to understanding and monitoring the health of the business.

Challenges with the Budgeting Process

There are many challenges associated with business budget preparation. In current economic times, where costs are continually changing or rising, and inflation is rampant, it is very difficult to accurately forecast what spending could or should be within twelve months. Defining how much time the process should take and how to get the updated data back into the ERP system is also a challenge. If multiple systems are involved, it can make it even more cumbersome for organizations. Since budgeting is also an exercise that involves virtually every department in the company, early planning is essential in case a particular department needs more time to gather its projected expenditure and return its budget requests.

Options for Preparing the Budget

The underlying data related to a business budget can be in various locations. Depending on the needs and resources of the company, it can be in a database, or an accounting/ERP system, such as NetSuite. If a business is using NetSuite, they have the ability to prepare their budget there. This includes modeling and what-if scenarios, as well as collaboration. There are also third-party software options designed specifically for budget preparation, but they are limited in what they offer for other accounting tasks and require significant additional investment as well as a new system to learn and maintain. Often, accounting users want to be able to integrate Excel or Power BI with NetSuite for creating their budgets. This allows them to work with dynamic data while taking advantage of Excel’s powerful native features.

Benefits of Preparing Business Budgets in Excel

Excel has less of a learning curve for most users because it is readily available and necessary for other functions of their job. In addition, for accounting users, sharing workbooks with departments outside of accounting for budget preparation can be more straightforward in Excel because it does not require those departments to learn how to work in NetSuite. Excel also allows users to integrate with business intelligence solutions, such as Power BI to create models and dashboards of the budget or forecast. This allows multiple data points to be joined simultaneously in one location for faster reviewing and decision-making.

When Excel is combined with an application like ExtendInsights, accounting users get the best of both worlds by accessing real-time NetSuite data with a cost-effective solution, while working in an environment that is most familiar to them. Learn more about how ExtendInsights can help you create your NetSuite budget faster and more accurately here.