Share:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

How to Build Monthly & Yearly Budget & Forecasts with Power BI

If you’re a finance manager or CFO, you know how important it is to have a clear and accurate picture of your company’s budget. After all, the budget is what allows you to make key decisions about where to allocate your resources and how to maximize their utilization. While there are several specialized solutions available in the market, adding market-leading planning capabilities to widely used productivity solutions.

Case in point: Power BI is a leader in the Gartner Quadrant in the respective space and a 60% market leader in analytics. Another example is Excel – the most widely used business application in the world.

In this article, we will cover how adding planning, budgeting, and forecasting into Power BI can ensure amazing benefits for businesses. The key here is adding Acterys’ integrated suite of data model automation and far-reaching planning capabilities to streamline the process end to end.

Why Do Budgeting and Forecasting in Power BI?

Before we show you how you can forecast a budget in Power BI, first let’s understand why Power BI is a good option for budgeting and forecasting.

For starters, Power BI is known for its ease of use and rich feature set when it comes to bringing data into the application, modeling it, and transforming it into visual reports and dashboards. It provides connectivity to 600+ sources, including major accounting and finance systems. In addition, since a lot of businesses have a Microsoft data and organizational infrastructure for data management, project management, communication, and collaboration, Power BI is their go-to choice for reporting and visualization operations. And with the existing talent available and trained for Power BI within organizations, it makes sense to get as much value out of it as possible.

While all of these points sound great, Power BI still is only good for displaying existing budget numbers, where a business doesn’t require changing values and simulating metrics frequently. Things begin to get tricky when the process involves getting data from multiple systems and spreadsheets and require handling data at different granularities. In addition, working with multiple sources at a time and periodically loading new financial data as it comes into your source databases becomes a hassle. The process further becomes complex when financial data is maintained in Excel workbooks, giving birth to the infamous spreadsheet chaos.

So Is Power BI the Right Tool for Budgeting and Forecasting?

The straightforward answer is No.

Budgeting and forecasting become quite complex and daunting in Power BI. But the good thing about Power BI is extensible, which means you can evolve its functionality with various add-ons and code integrations extensively available in the market nowadays. There are ways you can evolve Power BI much easier, faster, and more flexible. This involves working with established performance management solutions that are built upon Power BI and designed to unshackle its planning and budgeting potential.

With solutions like Acterys, users can tap into capabilities like write-back and planning, which extends Power BI into a full-fledged corporate performance management solution. With these capabilities, it becomes extremely convenient to use Power BI for budget forecasting and other associated processes.

So, the answer to the above question changes from no to a resounding yes, making Power BI a much better solution for budget forecasting than standalone, specialized solutions available in the market.

How Do You Integrate Financial Sources into Power BI?

Connecting to a financial source in Power BI is easy. All you need to do is:

  1. Log in to your Power BI app, go to the Home ribbon, and see the list of available connector options after clicking the Get Data button.
  2. Once you have selected the source, click on the Connect button and specify the credentials to establish a connection to the source.
  3. Power BI will then display the available datasets to bring data into the workspace.
  4. After selecting the dataset, hit the Load button to load the data, after which it will ask you to Transform Data to clean and load data into the Power Query Editor.

The process becomes even easier and faster with Acterys. Let’s consider that you are bringing data from Xero. Here is how you can automatically integrate data using Acterys:

  1. Go to: https://app.acterys.com/onboarding and fill out the form with your details to get the activation email.
  2. Your tenant will now be provisioned. This will take a few minutes. Once finished you will receive an email with your tenant details.
  3. Then log into your Acterys account, which will show the following screen:

4. Here, you will see all the connectivity, integration, and modeling options for your financial data source.
5. Simply connect to your Xero account and Acterys Modeller will handle the rest for you, which includes bringing your data in the smart data warehouse stored effectively in a standard database technology not another exotic proprietary one (as many specialized planning tools do) that your IT will not be a fan of maintaining.

Once your data is in the Acterys database, it will be available for all kinds of Financial Planning & Analytics (FP&A) processes, including budgeting and forecasting. Here an added benefit is that Acterys will automatically transform your data into a functional data model that you can customize as per your requirements in its dedicated Modeller web app.

How Do You Add a Forecast in Power BI?

Power BI has a built-in function for creating dashboards to visualize your forecasts. To add a forecast in Power BI, you need to follow the above steps to connect to your data source. Once connected, you need to go to select the visualization you want to view the forecasting in (e.g., Line chart) and add in your values for both axes. Now go to the Analytics pane and select the Forecast option. Click Add and configure as per your requirements.

The Line chart will reflect the changes and show the forecast based on the dataset from the financial source.

While the process is easy in Power BI, budgeting and forecasting are much more complex in real-world scenarios. It requires getting data from multiple sources and spreadsheets, performing consolidation processes, and complex data modeling. Then you need to have a workflow in place that automatically refreshes your datasets so that your budgets reflect the most recent business developments to create accurate forecasts.

All of this is possible with tools like Acterys. You can extend Power BI’s capabilities and make it planning-enabled with its writeback technology, opening a whole new world of opportunities for budgeting and forecasting processes.

Let’s take a look at how you can perform monthly and yearly budget forecasting using the powerful combination of Power BI and Acterys.

Creating Monthly or Yearly Budgets and Forecasts

First, open Power BI and connect to the data warehouse (Azure/SQL) to view and select the data models you need for building a budget. Acterys provides 8 custom Power BI Visuals that make Power BI planning-enabled with writeback and data entry capabilities. (See all Acterys Power BI Visuals Here)

Using visuals like Acterys Matrix, Acterys Table Edit, and others, you can immediately start building your new budget and profit from unparalleled options: from simple manual edits to relative changes, complex constraint satisfaction scenarios and much more combined with the analytics prowess of Power BI.

The integrated nature of Acterys enables you to use smart links between different model aspects, for example linking detailed sales results in your financial reports or the overall connection between income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow items.

Integrated Planning with Acterys Matrix, Table Edit and Variance

In addition to planning directly in the visual, the Acterys Variance visual also enables you to quickly see the differences (through relative, absolute, and waterfall display). For example, with prior year actuals. This allows adjusting the financial numbers, seeing the impact in real time, and then allocating your financial resources for the upcoming period effectively.

Simulating drivers and assessing impact in seconds

Immediate Impact Analysis: Acterys Visual Planning

You can use your current budget as a baseline to build forecasts for upcoming quarters or the fiscal year. Acterys provides capabilities for scenario planning, which enables you to create budgets tweaked after considering multiple variables affecting business conditions. In addition, Acterys’ visual planning functionality dramatically enhances speed and ease of forecasting, allowing you to adjust forecasts through simple drag and drop.

Manage Scenarios: Acterys Copy

The best part about working with Acterys Power BI is that you don’t need to write any complex DAX to perform calculations as the product handles all of it for you to show results instantly. With its powerful planning engine, you get unparalleled read and write back speeds, complemented by the adaptive cloud capacity and processing speeds of the cloud to scale up and down as per your budgeting and forecasting needs.

Benefits of Budgeting & Forecasting in Power BI with Acterys

With Acterys offering all the key capabilities packed into a unified platform, you get a planning powerhouse that helps build a sustainable budget for your organization and make predictions for possible market shifts affecting your business strategy and plans accurately.

Here are a few benefits of using Acterys for forecasting budget in Power BI:

  • All-in-one Solution: A single unified platform to consolidate data, transform it into interactive reports and manipulate it in real-time for budgeting and forecasting with market-leading SQL Server technologies (Azure & on-premise)
  • Instant Connectivity: Start building your budget and forecasts in minutes with one-click ERP/accounting software connectors or use our proprietary Instant Link technology for easy integration with all your source systems
  • Smart Data Warehouse: Dedicated SQL-based data warehouses containing all the financial data from linked Xero, Workflow Max, or MYOB entities, which can be scheduled for real-time data using Acterys Power Sync.
  • Write-enabled Planning: Power BI Apps and Custom Visuals focused on write-back and planning, a two-way (read/write) Excel integration, and best practice process templates, all to streamline your budgeting and forecasting processes.
  • Built-in Workflows: Easy to use, automated workflows for cost center, CAPEX, cash flow budgeting and forecasting as well as legal consolidation
  • Ready-to-Use Templates: Use fully editable Power BI financial reporting templates, as well as Power BI custom visuals that enable comprehensive planning features and editing directly on your Power BI report.
  • Available on the cloud and on-prem: All relevant data sources in a “single version of the truth” data model on BOTH the cloud and on-prem. This is complemented by the adaptive capacity to instantly add extra processing power in real time for more demanding budgeting and forecasting cycles.
  • Fluid Collaboration between Teams: Enjoy an integrated ecosystem of the latest Microsoft technologies like Teams, PowerApps, and Flow that allow you to set up real-time collaboration, powerful workflows, and tailored mobile/web analytical applications

Not convinced? See how KMG Chemicals is performing Global Forecasting in a Day with Acterys

Conclusion

Budgeting and creating forecasts are crucial to ensure that businesses can make timely business decisions even when operating in highly volatile market situations. If you are looking to perform budgeting & forecasting in Power BI, Acterys’ two-way writeback technology and custom visuals can help you achieve that with ease and speed.

Want to take the Acterys Power BI Platform out for a spin? Sign up for a 14-day free trial to see how it makes the entire budget forecasting process smooth and fast.