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, 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