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It's time for IT and business to stop trading power positions regarding the budgeting and planning process and to start working together.

Who is responsible for driving the analytics process for budgeting and planning? There has been no definitive answer, with the power switching back and forth between business and IT seemingly every decade. IT dominated in the 1980s, then the PC era ushered in a business-driven, desktop approach using spreadsheets. While this brought a much-needed productivity boost, silos proliferated and oversight suffered, driving a steady march toward today's approach of IT lockdown and control. But in recent years, IT has not fulfilled its promise for enterprise solutions that support the fiscal decision-making process for which business is accountable.

Today, business professionals are taking things back into their own hands, increasingly reverting to a spreadsheet approach that provides the short-term flexibility and rapid turnaround missing with enterprise solutions, but stymies progress toward integrated, seamless budgeting and planning. New realities in today's business markets are heralding the need for a change - rather than the continued push-and-pull between IT and business, it's time for companies to adopt a new approach that enables each group to own the segments it does best, and finally find a productive way to work together.

The Enterprise Way

Budgeting and planning today is considered an enterprise process, driven by IT. Some companies create a customized solution, and others purchase large back-office solutions that include various flavors of budgeting and planning, but the decisions on which systems to deploy, and the interactions with them are managed largely by IT. The intents of this approach are twofold: to institute controls over desktop/spreadsheet-based systems, and to develop a business-process approach for budgeting and planning. The former is laudable and necessary; the latter approach is much more problematic.

It's no surprise that companies have tried to rein in the use of spreadsheets - they create numerous individual silos of data that are difficult to integrate and secure. They often are rife with errors, and few other than the original owner can understand their logic. IT was well within its rights to try to replace them with a system that does a better job of capturing, managing, and securing valuable corporate data.


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