In the wake of a recent IBM survey of chief financial officers that found major gaps in the distribution and processing of financial information, Adaptive Planning CEO Bill Soward contends that the real issue might be the software.
Adaptive Planning, which provides a financial-planning application as a service, expects to sign up its 1,000th customer this year. Like IBM, Soward argues that the budget process needs to be more iterative and inclusive, given the current financial climate. In fact, Adaptive Planning just published its own survey of financial executives in which almost half said they expect to see another downturn before the economy fully recovers.
Soward says that when it comes to financial-planning software, most companies take the path of least resistance by relying on spreadsheets. But those applications are prone to inaccuracy and raise all kinds of compliance issues because many of them are based around custom macros that few people in the business actually understand.
A software-as-a-service approach, he argues, is inherently more transparent and collaborative. Soward adds that Adaptive Planning will be adding support for interfaces to link to other popular SaaS applications in the near future, and will also probably offer custom add-on applications for a variety of functions closely related to financial planning.
Given the lack of financial visibility that most companies exhibited in the recent downturn, Soward makes some salient points. The only real issue is that when it comes to putting sensitive data in any type of cloud computing scenario, financial people tend to be the most conservative. But given the need for tools that allow finance departments to be more closely aligned with the business, Soward is betting that more finance officers will soon overcome that reticence.