Six Degrees Planning vs Excel spreadsheets

Avatar Six DegreesUnlike manually created, complex and error prone spreadsheet budgeting, Six Degrees Planning is true enterprise planning software, delivering fully integrated budgeting, forecasting, planning and financial consolidation.

Real time collaboration between managers located around the globe has never been easier.

Six Degrees Planning offers:

  • pre-built budget software modules that run out of the box,
  • a step-by-step collaborative planning and forecasting process based on best-practice budgeting
  • mobile access enabling input from managers who are out of the office.

Capabilities

Capability Six Degrees Planning Spreadsheets
Revenue & Expenses Multiple scenarios with multiple versions for multiple years can be entered and maintained securely with full data integrity. Cross year comparisons are instantly available. An error prone and time intensive manual process, requiring multiple revenue schedules layered within multiple time periods to create the waterfall effect.
People &
Asset Planning
Driver-based planning lets you work with a range of real-world variables. For instance, you can centrally allocate costs according to the number of desks, office space, PCs and much more. Must be done manually by the IT team.
Balance Sheet &
Cash Flow
With pre-built modules that run out of the box, Six Degrees Planning delivers financial statements such as income statement, balance sheet cashflow and other critical summaries on demand for every entity. Manual, based on estimation, and problematic to manage.
Top down Bottom Up Inputs can be top down, bottom up or middle out, allowing users to enter values to either be cascaded down or consolidated up at any point in the hierarchy. Must be done manually by the IT team. Linkages across worksheets or between workbooks can become misaligned with the addition or deletion of even one cell or row.
What-if forecasting ‘What if’ forecasts are easy to prepare. Multiple versions of each scenario allow you to develop and compare different scenarios to contrast the outcomes of various strategies before decisions are set in stone. Exploring numerous scenarios to project the impact of various assumptions requires numerous recalculations and long periods of programming. This laborious process is inherently prone to error. Combining excel based ‘What-if’ worksheets with forecasted balance sheets and cash flows means obtaining an accurate result is virtually impossible.
Integration with ERP and General Ledger Transform your budgeting, forecasting and reporting and analytics process with collaborative budgeting and forecasting software that integrates in real time with your existing ERP, HR and line of business software systems. No direct interface. Periodic manual uploads create opportunities for variation on financials, organisational structure, departments or pre-set allocations.

Usability

Functionality Six Degrees Planning Spreadsheets
Data integrity Data validation checks across Six Degrees ensure the right type of data is entered and values can be validated for range. Six Degrees Planning creates a structured and auditable environment to ensure data is accurate and assumptions are reliable. Any kind of data can be entered in a cell. There is little or no protection against corruption through human error or inconsistencies.
Dashboards Intuitive, appealing, interactive graphic reporting dashboards, customised to user requirements with ‘drill down’ functionality to investigate detail. Heat maps, bubble graphs and geographic overlays are just the beginning. Can be manually built by the IT team, but dashboards are not self-service, are generally not tailored to user requirements, and do not allow ‘one click’ drill down functionality.
Collaboration
and Workflow
Staff around the company, and around the globe, can simultaneously enter data into Six Degrees and manage the portion of the planning process that they have access to. The process manager can check each contributor’s progress at any time. Spreadsheets are designed for data entry by one person at a time, which means multiple copies of each workbook are needed. Any error will take hours of effort to pinpoint. Managing the process of sourcing input from the many parties and collating all the copies back into one master workbook is error-prone and time intensive.
Mobile access  Fully interactive ‘anytime, anywhere’ mobile access via self service dashboards. With access via smartphones and tablets as well as PCs, users can add their input and get reports anytime, anywhere in the world.  Access is limited and remote workers often need to be emailed workbooks to complete and return, leaving room for error, and creating a version control nightmare.
 Modelling  Weighing options, and deciding the best way forward is part of managing a business. With Six Degrees coordinating financial and operational data from diverse sources, with inputs from the management team is simple and accurate with built-in functionality. Make informed decisions!  Cells, worksheets and workbooks must be formatted manually by the IT team to create the pre-set data entry options and designate the reporting structures. This process requires detailed and complex logic to create formulas, macros and various links between worksheets and cells, all of which is time consuming, and unreliable.
 Scalability
& Reliability
 Virtually unlimited in scope and scale, Six Degrees Planning is designed to handle the largest and most complex businesses down to SME’s.  Database driven planning ensures high data integrity, giving you confidence in the accuracy of the data you base your decisions on.  Data integrity is not guaranteed. Managers can freely enter data based on different and unrecorded assumptions. Human error during manual data entry is unlimited. Evolving needs and requirements will constantly degrade the integrity of a spreadsheet which was originally designed to do less.
 Consolidation  Six Degrees is built to handle complex organisations, multiple currencies, eliminations and partial ownerships. Dynamic consolidation means no more waiting for a consolidation process to happen before your numbers are available.  Running batch processes and consolidating multiple worksheets or workbooks is a difficult, highly manual and time consuming process, so the output is often riddled with errors.
 Formulas  Simple right click functionality removes the need for users to type in formulas, dramatically reducing errors. System wide formulas can be set and changed by Finance. Six Degrees removes the need for users to create macros and formulas, removing the errors that plague spreadsheets.  Huge amounts of time are required to detect and repair spreadsheet errors and flawed logic assumptions in macros and formulas. Yet 88% of spreadsheets can be assumed to contain errors.*
 Ownership  Each contributor is able to manage their section of the planning process, creating a sense of ownership and accountability, and freeing up the finance team to look at the big picture rather than micro-managing the process.  A single person often needs to manage the budgeting spreadsheet, which leaves the company at risk of losing the IP required to enable the complicated process.
 Platform  Built on the exceptional MicroStrategy BI platform, Six Degrees is the world’s first integrated CPM solution. Combining a fresh new approach to budgeting and forecasting, with world leading reporting and analytics, you can produce numbers with a high level of integrity, faster, and use the time freed up to report and analyse in detail.  Excel spreadsheets were never designed to be enterprise level budgeting tools; so basing your business planning on spreadsheets means accepting a number of limitations that ultimately result in less accurate outputs.
 Security  Built in security settings enable custom access settings for each user. Restrict users to appropriate entities, workflows or data sets with a few clicks.  Spreadsheets require manual security management. Access is managed by manually setting passwords on cells, worksheets or workbooks to limit mistakes and restrict access to sensitive data.
 Implementation  Ready to use out of the box, so you won’t need to hire consultants and spend a fortune adapting the software to your organisation to reinvent the wheel.  While excel is ubiquitous, version control can be a challenge.
 Maintenance & Upgrades  Six Degrees is upgraded in line with MicroStrategy releases so it stays in sync with your underlying systems, from finance to HR. No more paying for upgrades – with a valid support agreement your business will receive updates at no charge.  Upgrades are a time consuming, error-prone manual process.
User manuals & documentation Online training, full user guide documentation, intuitive menus, contextual prompts, help function and support desk are part of the package. In-house spreadsheet budgets are often managed by one person or a small team of workers, each with specialist knowledge, which creates knowledge management risk. The need for a manual or user guide is often overlooked.

* ‘What We Know About Spreadsheet Errors’, Raymond R. Panko, University of Hawai’i.