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Budgeting Systems: Adopt the simple approach

As I sit here writing this blog, we are one week away from Christmas.  That time of year we love to celebrate - although not always for the right reasons - in giving and receiving gifts.  The only trouble is that we often get presents we don't want, mainly because we in turn give presents out of 'duty' to those we don't really like.  Once received, the main challenge is in knowing what to do with them.  Some will get stored in cupboards or the attic along with other unused presents received in years past.  Others will get recycled as 'gifts' (making sure we don't give them back to the person who originally gave them), while others will end up in a charity shop.  If only we could have what we want and nothing more - life would be so much easier.
And the same is true with budgeting, forecasting and reporting systems.  Software vendors think that by putting hundreds of features and functions within a product, that customers will feel that they are getting 'good value'.  But often nothing could be further from the truth.  Just how many ways do you need to enter a number?  The downside of this 'abundance' is cost and complexity. Cost in that vendors feel they can charge more, even though you will only use a fraction of what's provided. Complexity in that you have to get to know how they work and how they combine with other features, only to find they didn't quite do what you thought they did in the first place.
Wouldn't life be simpler if you could purchase a budgeting solution that just did what you wanted and nothing else?   That was simple to use and available at a substantially lower cost?  This is exactly the approach taken by a number of new software vendors such as Financial Driver.  And not surprisingly in this overly complex market, customers are being attracted to the message.  A recent customer of Financial Driver mentioned that it was the simplicity, low price, and hence low cost of ownership that caused them to turn their backs on mainstream vendors. If you're looking for a planning or forecasting software solution, then don't get carried away by the array of features on offer. Take the 'feng shui' approach and start off with a basic system. You'll be surprised just how much simpler and more effective your business life will become.