Finance departments are typically heavy users of spreadsheets like Excel. That is fine for ad-hoc analysis, or creating small calculation tools, but sometimes those spreadsheets get large and unwieldy over time, or end up supporting a critical part of the business process. That is when you need to ask yourself whether Excel is really the appropriate tool as its file-based architecture is inherently risky, and it is not great for defining general business rules when formulae have to be defined at the cell level. When a spreadsheet develops large numbers of tabs, or links to external files, when it requires data to be copied from other systems, or takes ages to load, then you know that you have probably exceeded the reasonable limits of the spreadsheet approach. This is particularly risky when the spreadsheet forms a critical part of the organisation’s planning process, or when people feel that it is too complicated to change. Furthermore, spreadsheet files are easily overwritten, or people can end up looking at the wrong version, and similarly it is too easy to overwrite a cell formula, a simple mistake which is then almost impossible to spot.
Financial analysts, by their very nature, are always going to value the power and flexibility of spreadsheets, and are not going to abandon them overnight. What they need to support them is a more robust system to build and store the key elements of the business plan: the budget, sales and production forecasts etc, and to do the ‘heavy lifting’ of crunching the numbers, which can then integrate with Excel to allow them to explore the numbers in more detail. That is exactly the approach that Compas takes.
- It contains a powerful reporting tool, allowing high-level analysis which can easily be drilled-down to understand the detail
- Detailed or pre-aggregated data can be exported in a raw tab-delimited format for further analysis using Excel pivot tables or other systems
- Reports can be exported as a fully-formatted Excel spreadsheet
- Custom reports can be created using an uploaded Excel template, that integrate data from Compas with other, more customised analysis.
Compas has long been used by Finance departments to support financial planning and analysis. It can calculate a range of financial measures, including a full Profit and Loss account if needed. It also has a number of other capabilities to support budgeting, scenario analysis and forecasting. In summary, Compas supports financial planning and analysis in the following ways:
- It can calculate activity-level P&L accounts e.g. for marketing campaigns/sales promotions or other investments
- These are calculated before during and after the activity
- It can aggregate detailed P&Ls into a full company Profit &Loss account – blending actuals to date plan to go to give an accurate full-year forecast at all times
- The system automatically takes snapshots of the plan each weekend, but also Finance can freeze the plan for the next financial year to create a budget
- It supports the creation of multiple draft budgets before one is nominated to be the actual budget. All inputs and calculated numbers are stored for subsequent reference
- Budget restatements can easily be taken as further snapshots throughout the year
- It is possible to create a stand-alone budget/planning workspace which does not get updated with actuals data and can therefore be used for scenario planning
- The system contains a number of what-if/scenario analysis and sensitivity analysis tools
- Compas incorporates a powerful OLAP reporting engine, allowing speed of thought analysis of data
- Marketing tests can be assigned two sets of costs – the cost of the test and the ‘roll-out cost’ representing the cost if the test were replicated in bulk. Then the analysis can be viewed both based on actual costs and in a roll-out scenario.
Compas is a flexible platform that can be tailored to a wide range of needs. Contact us now to discuss your particular requirements, or to see a demonstration.