End-of-Year IT Tasks

time to plan Ivelin RadkovIn a previous blog, we discussed how the calendar end-of-the year can be different for IT than the rest of the year. Because of a possible fiscal year-end, possible higher resource utilization, less staff due to holiday vacations and other factors, IT operations and procedures shift or change. So, let’s discuss some of the tasks IT people need to do to prepare for the end-of-year and the start of the next:

  • Backup – We all knew this would be on the list and should probably hold a very high priority, so it is first on the list. We need to have a backup of the data at the year’s end. Unless you want one, you probably do not need a systems backup, only data. Our daily and weekly backups will take care of system state backups. What we do want is a complete backup of all data as it looked at the end-of-year. This backup will go somewhere safe. Odds are we will never need it, but we will have it just in case. In some cases, accounting and finance may need to utilize that backup to make sure they only have the previous year’s data without any from the current year.
  • Lock Production – For all the reasons mentioned earlier and other reasons that drive company policy, production systems usually get locked until the end of the year. Only emergency alterations are allowed to production.
  • Increase Support – Many companies are busiest during the holiday season. They are most likely the ones that have production locks. Being busier will increase IT support needs.
  • Increase Operations – Those busy organizations may need an increase in operations to support the increase in business. IT will have to pay closer attention to utilization and daily operations.
  • Staff Alterations – Due to higher vacation utilization at end-of-year, we may also be running on a smaller staff. There will be changes in support coverage and shift operations.
  • Enhance Development – If production is locked, that does not mean we can’t touch the development environment (unless doing so will affect production). This could be a good time to update, clean, or just plain continue work in the development environment.
  • Update Applications – Wait… Didn’t we say production was going to be locked? Well this may be one of those cases where we have no choice. There are software packages that require year-end updates or they will not have the functionality needed to operate properly. For example, accounting and payroll may need updates to tax tables for the next year.
  • Budget – At this point, the previous year’s budget should be gone or close to it. In these last few weeks, you can finalize the budget estimates for the next year. If you had not started on this yet, now may be a good time to start.
  • Reporting – Many business units are going to look for reports on the previous year to perform their required close-outs. So, reporting volume and support will most likely increase.
  • Inventory – if production is locked, now would be a good time to inventory our software and hardware. This includes servers, workstations, laptops, printers and peripherals.
  • Resource Review – This may sound like inventory, but it is a little different. This refers to utilization and consumption. We need to know how much power and computing resources we are currently utilizing and how that will affect the next year. This could occur during or after taking inventory. We should evaluate how much power our systems draw and whether we have ample power and power protection into the next year. We need to know how much of our server (and other hardware) resources we are utilizing to know what we will need for future endeavors.
  • Nothing – We may not need to do anything different. Some organizations see no difference in activity in year-end from the rest of the year.

If you think of any other end-of-year tasks to add to the list or have other points of view, please note them in out comments section.


Sr. Network Consultant




© 2014 Custom Systems Corporation

Watching the Eagles game this weekend?

Eagles Next Opponent – Arizona Cardinals – Use Adaptive Insights for Budgeting

Adaptive InsightsThe Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League have successfully employed Adaptive Insights to develop their annual budgets for the past two years.  As a fan of Philadelphia sports teams, I am hoping that the Cardinals will have less success in their matchup with the Eagles this coming Sunday.  But, as a solutions partner for Adaptive Insights, I am excited about the success of the Cardinals organization… off the field.

As reported in a recent article by Dennis Howlett of diginomica.com, the Cardinals have achieved the following benefits by converting from spreadsheet budgeting to Adaptive Planning:

  • The time to complete the budget process was cut in half. Before Adaptive Planning, the process required three to four weeks; after Adaptive Planning, only one to two weeks.*
  • The time required to consolidate each budget iteration for 30 different responsibility centers was reduced from days to hours.
  • Operating managers spend less time on procedural reports and, as a result, have more time for value-added review and analysis of budget submissions.
  • Operating managers also rely less on financial staff to develop their budgets, giving them a greater sense of autonomy and control.

As an added benefit of converting to Adaptive Planning, the Cardinals organization has successfully transitioned to driver-based budgeting, providing more internal consistency to the overall budget.

With estimated annual revenue of $266 million and estimated operating income of $42 million, the Arizona Cardinals are at the upper end of what would be considered a middle market company.  They are organized into 30 distinct budget or responsibility centers that roll up to the total company budget.  Even with this scope and complexity, the Cardinal organization was able to implement Adaptive Planning in three and a half months, and this included time for both extensive system testing and intensive hands-on user training.

Click here for more information about the Arizona Cardinals’ experience with Adaptive Insights.

For more information about how your organization can achieve similar results with Adaptive Insights, give us a call or email me directly.

* This refers to what the Cardinals call the budget culmination process, which I interpret to mean that part of the process required for submission, consolidation, review, revision and approval.  I assume there is additional time required to actually prepare the budget model and develop drivers, assumptions and inputs.  The time to complete these preliminary steps in the process is typically reduced even more significantly by implementing Adaptive Planning.

Lou Butcher

Lou Butcher
Practice Leader




© Copyright Custom Systems Corporation 2014

Too early to start thinking about the 2015 budget?

budget imageIf your business operates on a calendar year basis, now is the perfect time to begin planning for your 2015 budget and operating plan.  By now, the books should be closed on the first half of 2014, and the full-year outlook should be coming into focus.  With this updated vision of the current year, you can begin to gradually turn your attention to next year.

Although most calendar-year companies don’t really roll up their sleeves and begin budgeting in earnest until the fourth quarter, a lot of the groundwork for this concerted effort can be accomplished during the dog days of July and August.  Then, after Labor Day, preliminary communications can be disseminated throughout the organization to increase awareness and stimulate thinking about the planning process for the coming year.

But what exactly can be done at this early stage in the planning or budgeting process and who should be involved?  The answer depends on your company’s planning process, but this is typically the time of year when information can be gathered and planning assumptions can be developed.  The summer months are also a good time to review your experiences from the prior year budget and develop a process and schedule that incorporate your key learnings.  Finally, and most importantly, now is the perfect time to update and test financial planning software or spreadsheet-based budget models.  These preparatory tasks are typically performed by the Financial Planning department in larger organizations and the CFO and his staff in small to mid-sized companies.

These may seem like simple tasks, but significant information gathering is often required to develop overall planning assumptions that are relevant to your particular industry.  For example, assumptions about employee benefit rates, such as health insurance, can require input from outside benefit advisors who must gather information from insurance carriers.  Your outside advisors will appreciate the additional time that you give them by requesting this input now, rather than in October (when everyone else does).

And, unless your company has an effective process for producing rolling financial forecasts, significant effort may be required to develop the most important assumption of all:  the full-year forecast for 2014.  This, of course, is establishes the basis for the 2015 budget, so it is a critical “assumption”.  It is seldom sufficient, and never optimal, to use a full-year forecast that consists of actual results for the first half of the year plus the budget for the second half of the year.  A little extra effort devoted to developing a sound full-year forecast during the third quarter will yield a much more meaningful budget in the fourth quarter.

Finally, it is easy to forget that the current full-year forecast and all budget assumptions will require senior management approval prior to the start of the official planning season.  And waiting until the fourth quarter to obtain the attention of senior management is never a good idea.  Other, more immediate, issues tend to occupy their attention as year-end approaches.

So, if you start laying the groundwork for your annual planning or budgeting process now, your efforts should produce a better outcome later.

Lou ButcherLou Butcher

Practice Leader




© Copyright Custom Systems Corporation 2014