Having an accurate and dynamic forecast creates a confident finance function in any business. However, when your skilled FP&A team members spend hours gathering and formatting static spreadsheets, that’s less time being spent on analyzing results, developing what-if-scenarios, and modeling strategic plans and forecasts.
Even organizations with powerful cloud ERP platforms like Oracle NetSuite often find that, without automation and integration on the front end of their finance and accounting processes, their budgeting, forecasting and reporting remains labor-intensive, time-consuming and costly.
So how can Oracle NetSuite customers automate FP&A? By evaluating Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) platforms that integrate with their source systems
Here are the top 3 FP&A platforms for Oracle NetSuite:
- Limelight (that’s us)
- Workday Adaptive Planning
- Oracle PBCS
Before we dive down into the differences between these three systems, let’s first look at the reasons behind using an FP&A platform with Oracle NetSuite.
What happens when Oracle NetSuite customers outgrow Excel?
It’s no secret that many Excel users refer to working in manual spreadsheets as “Excel Hell”. This is because teams who rely on Excel to manually budget, forecast and report have outgrown them due to the larger sets of data, systems and people involved in the process. Here are some key issues that come with outgrowing spreadsheets:
- Excel is Not Suitable for Multi-Users - Excel is a single-user tool. If you want more than one person to contribute or review a spreadsheet, then you must give them a copy of the spreadsheet and wait for them to be finished with it before you or someone else can continue to work on it. This slows down the budgeting and reporting process and is a real pain for any situation where collaboration is required.
- Version Control - When you have lots of spreadsheets being emailed around, you have the added problem of managing which version is the most current. It’s a known fact that contributors will often copy their spreadsheets to create different scenarios (best case, worst case, ‘what-if’, etc.) along with a final version. Managing multiple versions manually can leave users working with the wrong workbook and outdated information.
- Security -Storing data in spreadsheets or emailing them back and forth poses security risks. When data is stored in Excel, there are no checks and balances to verify the quality of information. Although passwords do offer initial protection from outside eyes, a manager cannot review who has or has not seen or accessed the data. This gets even more complex if managers cannot successfully track who has the password and whether or not it’s been shared. When it comes to email, confidential information can end up in unexpected hands. And if your spreadsheet is particularly large, emailing becomes problematic. We once had a customer whose budget spreadsheet had grown over 100 MB and was unable to email it for review.
- Erroneous Data and Broken Formulas and Links - So you’ve created a beautiful template with macros and formulas to make life easier for your department managers to enter their figures. The problem is that there is ALWAYS someone who will find a way to break the template and ruin your consolidation process.
3 FP&A Platforms Oracle NetSuite Customers Should Evaluate
We’ve listed our top three contenders and for each, outlined the product and compared them side-by-side in terms of overall features, learning curve and pricing.
Limelight is an all-in-one financial planning, forecasting and reporting web-based workspace. It directly integrates with Oracle NetSuite as well as other systems such as HR, Payroll and CRM to centralize data. It offers a modern, user-friendly interface that is easily managed by business users and is accessible from anywhere and on any device. Limelight brings the best of Excel and the web together and automatically consolidates financial and operational data for immediate analysis so teams can collaborate across departments in real-time.
Limelight offers an Excel look and feel as well as full support for Excel formulas within a simple, user-friendly modern interface. This makes it easy for users to leverage their Excel skills to learn, navigate and create their own self-service budgeting, forecasting and reporting templates. Finance and accounting teams can quickly build reports, forecasts, and budgets using data directly sourced from their ERP.
Limelight was developed by finance professionals as a comprehensive solution for budgeting, planning, forecasting, headcount planning, workflows, reporting and automation. Every feature of Limelight provides a more unified, collaborative and streamlined experience for your organization.
- Software - $$
- Implementation - $$
Limelight is competitively priced and offers implementation packages that provide customers with their exact budget upfront, allowing them to be up and running on the platform faster. Implementation is completed by our own team and not a third party, meaning Limelight is with the customer throughout their entire journey.
2. Workday Adaptive Planning
Formerly Adaptive Insights, Workday Adaptive Planning is a cloud FP&A platform that offers unified planning, reporting and analysis for Finance teams. Beyond Finance, it provides a tailored solution for Sales, Workforce Planning and Operational Planning, as separate modules in the same workspace.
- Moderate to Heavy
Workday Adaptive Planning requires a steep learning curve for users, in large part because it is a web-based solution with its own scripting language. Since the platform and its functionality are a departure from Excel, users must dedicate a lot of time to fully learn how the tool works and apply this knowledge to build financial templates, reports, and dashboards.
- Software - $$
- Implementation - $$$
Workday Adaptive Planning offers competitive licensing costs. Most implementations are delivered by third-party partners which can sometimes make deployments more costly. However, Adaptive Planning's large community of partners provides customers with access to a larger pool of resources to leverage and use.
3. Oracle PBCS (Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service)
Oracle PBCS is a planning, budgeting, and forecasting solution enabling organizations to adopt better planning practices and improve forecasting accuracy without the need for heavy IT resources. Oracle PBCS was built from the on-premise Hyperion Planning solution and allows users to customize reports to suit business requirements.
- Moderate to Heavy
Oracle PBCS uses high hardware resources necessary for installation, making the environment better suited to larger companies. The layout and usability are not the most intuitive. Getting accustomed to the tool takes longer and requires more enablement. The system requires lots of clicks and has separate modules that need to be purchased and additionally learned. Once streamlined and trained, companies will experience the benefits.
With Oracle Smart View, users can access and report on their Oracle EPM and BI tools, as well as access data in real-time. However, Smart View does not offer its same capabilities across other source systems.
- Software - $$$
- Implementation - $$$$
Oracle PBCS is one of the more expensive FP&A platforms in the market. While you can take advantage of timely promotions and heavy discounts, overall, this is a platform that requires a deeper investment over a long period of time. Oracle has a large community of partners that provide exceptional implementation and support services for PBCS.
Choosing the Best FP&A Platform for Oracle NetSuite
When searching for the right financial planning and analysis tool for Oracle NetSuite, users should perform in-depth research into each vendor. As an FP&A vendor ourselves, we understand the needs of our prospects through the experience we have with our customers.
For help evaluating a solution that works best for your needs, check out our Cloud FP&A Checklist.