The best budgeting apps for SMEs
Setting up and maintaining a budget is one of the keys to the long-term survival and ultimate success of your small business. It's not exactly rocket science, but no enterprise can long exist if it consistently outspends its resources. Your business's budget allows you to keep a close watch on your company's expenditures and its revenue stream.
If revenues begin to rise beyond the levels you originally projected in setting up the budget, it signals an opportunity to expand or build up a surplus that can help you to weather financial storms in the future.
If, however, your revenues are falling consistently below budgeted projections, it's a clear signal that you need to cut back on expenditures to compensate for the unexpected shortfall in revenues.
Budget apps available
Making life easier for small business owners is the growing availability of inexpensive budgeting apps that can simplify and streamline the process, providing a template into which anticipated revenues and expenditures can be entered.
Most of these apps also allow users to enter actual financial performance data as it becomes available. This allows the user to see how well his business is performing, compared to budgetary projections.
But no matter which budget app you decide to go with, the principles involved in setting up and maintaining a budget are much the same.
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If yours is a start-up business, you really have no past experience on which to base your budget's projections.
To set up a budget, you'll need to conduct fairly extensive research into the revenue and spending trends that are typical for the business sector you're entering. It would be wise to have sufficient funds set aside to cover anticipated expenses until the business has been able to develop a fairly reliable stream of revenue.
For newbies, it makes sense to overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues, at least until your business finds it way and has posted reliable enough numbers on which to base future revenue and spending projections.
Start-up companies also should keep a close watch on actual financial performance so they can detect the seasonal fluctuations that they will need to factor into future budget projections.
Most existing budgeting apps -- or extensions thereof -- run on multiple platforms, allowing you to keep tabs on how your business is doing from your smartphone, iPad or other tablet, or your laptop or desktop computer.
Monthly, quarterly budgets
As guidance for the short-term future of your business, it's wise to set up an annual budget. However, to be able to closely monitor your company's performance, develop monthly and/or quarterly budgets within the framework of that annual budget.
Far too many businesses set up an annual budget, set it aside, and fail to monitor how closely -- or not -- the company's actual performance is following budgetary projections.
Having a budget grounded in reality is a necessity for businesses that plan to seek loans from banks or other lenders. Lenders will want to take a good look at your budget projections before agreeing to lend you money.
Easy access to budget data
The advantage of having up-to-the-minute budgetary information at your fingertips is obvious. The sooner you know when revenues are unexpectedly trending downward or expenses are exceeding anticipated levels, the more quickly you can take steps to minimize the financial consequences of these developments.
Budget apps that can be accessed no matter where you are make it possible to monitor costs and revenues on a daily or even hourly basis.
Tracking your company's actual financial performance against the budget's projected performance allows you to fine-tune the business's operations so you can ultimately attain the financial goals you've set.
About the author
Don Amerman is a freelance author who has written extensively about small business, corporate strategy, and social media. His latest piece looks at the advantages of using a budget app.
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.