Budget Boost: Make Your Financial Planning Process Easier to Manage with Automation

By Teelock, Ranjeev | Journal of Property Management, July-August 2010 | Go to article overview

Budget Boost: Make Your Financial Planning Process Easier to Manage with Automation


Teelock, Ranjeev, Journal of Property Management


Few business rituals cause more angst or generate more hours poring over spreadsheets than the annual budget. This complex process affects staff at every level of an organization--from the CFO to the regional managers, to the site managers--and usually takes months of effort to complete.

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Owners and managers of multifamily property management companies face the budgeting process every year. As these companies grow and the need for better resource management becomes even more important, improving and streamlining the budgeting and forecasting process becomes paramount.

THE "OLD" WAY

Everyone knows the drill. Several months before the end of the fiscal year the call goes out to site managers of all the properties owned or managed by the property management company. Typically, a standard spreadsheet workbook is distributed, either through the mail or via e-mail, to each site manager so he or she can collect and calculate budgeting data for each community. Deadlines are set, and the spreadsheets are distributed through the approval process. Finally, the completed spreadsheets are mailed or e-mailed back to the central office. Multiply that step by the number of properties in the portfolio and it is easy to see how the complexity increases exponentially.

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Then, the heavy lifting begins. Budgeting data must be collected from all the different properties, as well as data from other disparate sources. This manual process usually means weeks of number crunching and plenty of "re-dos" as data is constantly being updated and changed at the last minute. By the time the budgets are finally completed, everyone is exhausted from the effort and probably a little leery about the accuracy of the final numbers.

AUTOMATION SIMPLIFIES THE PROCESS

Property management companies need a better way to manage the annual budgeting exercise. A company needs to have confidence in its financial data, but manual processes increase the risk of errors and make timely reporting almost impossible.

A powerful Web-based budgeting and forecasting tool that automates the process enables owners and managers to create, manage, distribute and centrally monitor budgets for all property types in their portfolio.

Automation streamlines the entire budgeting process, from data creation and importing to completion and approvals. It can drastically reduce the time spent populating spreadsheets with prior-year data, reducing the time spent on budgets from months to weeks or even days. Best of all, automation takes some of the pain associated with budgeting--the heavy lifting--out of the equation.

Automation increases efficiencies and encourages data accuracy and consistency across the organization. Standard budget templates can be distributed seamlessly to every staff member submitting budget information so all data conforms to the same format. Using a standard budget template facilitates information sharing by making it easier for staff to access the spreadsheet, enter data and view the budgeting information in real time. Companies no longer have to worry that various versions of the properties' budgets are being circulated.

Importing data from disparate sources is a major headache for budget preparers. …

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