Overall Satisfaction with Planful (formerly Host Analytics)
We use Host Analytics to support the annual budgeting process for the company. It allows us to provide a top down direction of revenues, HR actual data with budgeting based on formulas and expectations while allowing our operations managers and corporate department managers (about 30 total) to budget their areas of responsibility. We are able to review, modify and rollup changes in real-time and provide guidance and changes up and down the process while it is happening. It is not a "submit your budget and wait" but more of a budgeting conversation as we are able to see inputs and results, provide executive management current expectations and results and relay changes during the process.
- We are able to provide personnel down to each store and department, along with budgeting changes (new hires, terminations and raises) as well as costs related to benefits. We can load all of this in from an HR file, as well as have the budget owner review and make changes. We have even been able to change raise guidance during the budgeting process depending on needs.
- We are also able to plan capital spending (down to the department and store or at a project level) and use the plan to allocate depreciation costs and review those planned costs during the year as they are incurred against actual. The plus for us is that we can see that spending and costs and adjust it as we are still doing the plan.
- We provide a projection by product and operating segment that provides the budget owner a view of what we realistically expect, but we can and have worked with the budget owners to modify and adjust that on a larger scale or allow them to adjust a month or store, too. This creates the conversation during the budgeting process that is a back and forth between the executive team and the operators, so that when the plan is done it is more of a collaboration.
- Host has been working on improving it's reporting capabilities and (since we have been a customer since 2005) we have seen the strides they have made and more platforms, software capabilities and everyone's expectations have grown and changed. They are very receptive to hearing what and how their customers use the product and what they need. Their SaaS and online system allows updates frequently and the changes or idea requested by customers can be seen as the make it into the product. Everyone benefits and it does not take purchasing a newer version or upgrade. They are working on improving and making it even easier to provide the "polished" looking reports everyone now demands.
- Our budgeting process used to entail about 3 months of assembling data, creating projections and trying to review with our operators. Changes were not easily possible with spreadsheets (even the sophisticated ones were had developed) and reviewing the big picture was time consuming and labor intensive. We are now able to provide the same projections, but work with the operators and department managers to make the budget result a more collaborative and reviewed product in less time. ROI is harder for us to measure when we now have a better end product that everyone is more comfortable with and can easily go to for the details during the year.
- We are beginning to work with increasing the data elements (non-financial) we load into Host to be able to provide even more information with the same financial information our users are already using from other systems. All of this will allow less time to be spent looking at multiple reports or systems and collating the information each user needs. That will result in more time for customers, employees and ideas.
Organizing, managing and reporting on actual and budgeted financial data is extremely simple to achieve. Scalability is entirely up to the customer/user. Whether they want to use it in tandem with other systems, as a repository of other systems or to feed other systems - it is essentially the same to work with and flexible to do all three. The common spreadsheet-like input templates and reporting makes it easy to learn for novice or power users of spreadsheets. Our finance department (actually 2 people) manage the entire application without tying up the IT department or maintaining resources in our offices, too.