Why are FP&A software tools essential for startups and small businesses?
FP&A software tools are increasingly important for businesses of all sizes. Historically, FP&A teams primarily existed as a separate department, mostly among large and established companies.
But all of that has changed.
FP&A is no longer a separate entity that works only with the finance department. Management expects FP&A experts to take a far more active role in decision making, which involves coordination with the entire organization.
In addition, companies today grow at a much faster rate and keeping up with global metrics and trends is increasingly crucial.
Most important, is the size and speed of data. In 2021, it was estimated that the overall amount of data in the world reached 79 zettabytes (one zettabyte is 1 billion terabytes!). By 2025, this amount is expected to double.
It is simply impossible for companies of any size to keep up with the constantly growing amount of data that needs to be sorted and analyzed.
And then of course, there is the automation aspect. Today, the average FP&A analyst only spends 25% of their time analyzing data, while the other 75% of their valuable time is spent on activities such as collecting and cleaning the data.
With FP&A software, companies can automate their data collections and create valuable dashboards and insights that will help them understand trends and make more accurate budgets, forecasts, and business decisions.
For all of these reasons, more and more companies- including small businesses and even startups- are looking for FP&A solutions to help them stay ahead of the competition.
What startups and small businesses should look for when choosing FP&A solutions
While the best FP&A solutions usually cover all aspects of a company’s needs, small businesses and startups need to be slightly more picky when choosing the best tool to go with.
Time and pressure constraints is one challenge that startups and small businesses deal with on a daily basis that most large companies don’t need to pay attention to as much. This includes pressure from investors to grow quickly or internal pressure to stay ahead of the competition.
Another difficulty is of course money. FP&A software can be pricey so finding one that won’t break the bank, yet still provides a high level of value, can be a challenge for small companies on a tight budget.
Being able to convince upper management or investors that implementing FP&A software is worth the time and money can be difficult. This process culminates in finding a solution that is the right price, fits the company’s needs, and will provide a high level of ROI sooner rather than later.
After taking all of these unique considerations for small businesses into account, our team at The Finance Weekly has compiled a list of the 5 best FP&A solutions for small businesses.
The list is compiled from customer feedback, company research, and reviews from numerous third party sites.
Special consideration was given to the categories that small businesses pay more attention to (price, implementation time, and quick ROI).
For a list of the best overall FP&A software solutions for companies of all sizes click here.
Top 5 FP&A software solutions for small businesses
Datarails came out on top as the best FP&A software for both small and medium size businesses. It is a financial planning and analysis platform that automates time-consuming manual processes for financial reporting and planning.
With all of the data in one source, the user-friendly software paves the way for finance teams to spend more time analyzing data and less time gathering it.
Datarails is one of the best priced platforms on the market, and the best on this list. It is unique in that it enables finance teams to continue benefiting from the familiar spreadsheets and financial models of Excel without having to learn a new software.
The result is an extremely short implementation time of only 3-6 weeks and a high level of ROI off the bat. Datarails empowers organizations to answer essential strategic questions such as what can be done to increase revenue and reduce expenses.
Datarails Fun Fact
Datarails won 1st place in the financial newspaper Globes’ Most Promising Startup of 2021 award, selected by 63 venture capital funds.
Datarails’ most unique aspect
What’s unique about the company is that instead of replacing Excel through a similar, upgraded software, it works with Excel. The advantages here are the very fast implementation times, and customers being able to use their own Excel models with all the familiarness and flexibility of Excel.
Datarails’ dashboards are simple and easy to use. Without requiring advanced technical skills (but still having plenty of customizable options) the dashboards are perfect for limited teams in small and medium sized businesses.
Its consolidation abilities are superior to most other platforms. Gathering scattered financial and operational data from all different kinds of platforms and performing variance, horizontal, and vertical analysis is all much easier when it’s in one place.
Customer support received excellent feedback, as solutions are provided quickly and easily, and their team consists strictly of finance professionals.
Most of DataRails’ customers are located in North America with a small percentage in the EMEA region.
The platform doesn’t have on-premises solutions.
Prophix is ranked as the #2 best software solution for small businesses. It provides both on-premise and cloud solutions to support modeling, profitability analysis, dashboards, and performance reporting. This is in addition to supporting financial close processes.
The Ontario based company started out as a software distributor in 1987, and after years of implementing financial implications, the founders recognized the need for an innovative planning system. They transitioned to financial planning software, and that’s how Prophix’s FP&A platform was started.
Prophix has a roadmap to enhance integrations with other third party applications and ongoing AI capabilities, notably those relating to anomaly detection and improvements to dashboard reporting. The Virtual Financial Analyst transforms the way you work by automating repetitive jobs, giving you greater insights and confidence.
Thanks to all of these aspects, Prophix consistently ranks quite high as a great solution for companies of all sizes. But the short implementation time and competitive, low pricing are what stick out the most for small businesses.
Prophix puts a lot of focus on small and medium businesses, and their large customer base reflects that. However, their level of customer support and software flexibility rank slightly below Datarails which puts them in a close 2nd place.
Prophix Fun Fact
Prophix Software was chosen as one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers of 2021 for the 5th time. This award recognizes companies who offer the nation’s best work environments and forward looking human resources (HR) policies in the private sector.
Prophix puts a slightly higher focus on AI than most of the other organizations which helps detect anomalies and autofill data that was very time consuming in the past.
Prophix’s most unique aspect
Prophix puts a slightly higher focus on AI than most of the other organizations, which helps detect anomalies and autofill data that was very time consuming in the past.
The interface is very user friendly and not overwhelming, making it a good option for companies with wide ranges of tech talent, and small businesses short on time and resources.
Its solution upgrades are quick and rarely require 3rd party support.
Prices are very competitive, and although Datarails scored slightly better, they were the top 2 companies on the list in terms of lowest pricing.
Prophix received some negative reviews in terms of customer support, as sometimes the primary support and development is handled by certified Prophix implementers instead of Prophix themselves.
Its cloud solution still lags behind its on-premises version.
Many of the forecasting reports need to be built individually from scratch instead of having prebuilt templates to choose from.
Jedox comes in at number 3 but has many great qualities that help it rank as a great overall solution. To begin with, it is one of the few companies that successfully caters to small, medium, and large businesses. Their 2,500+ customers can attest to that, including impressive names such as Microsoft and McDonalds who use their services.
However, it is hard to cater evenly to everyone, which is why their small business experience lags slightly behind Datarails and Prophix.
The German based company ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of pricing and implementation time, but ranked very good in terms of ease of use. All of these are usually looked at carefully by small businesses before deciding on a software package.
Although all of the companies provide Enterprise Performance Management, Jedox specifically advertises as an EPM platform. In addition, customers have the choice of cloud-based or on-premise models which is a nice bonus.
However, what’s unique about Jedox is that the company offers its software suite in rental models where operation is possible through Microsoft Azure Cloud Services in the form of a SaaS offering.
All in all Jedox can be a great fit for small businesses who anticipate a fast level of growth, or for those who have a slightly higher budget and a few extra weeks for implementation. For those that don’t, Datarails or Prophix might be a better option.
Jedox Fun Fact
In 2018 Jedox was awarded for Excellence in Budgeting Transformation, and won the CFO Innovation Editor’s Choice Award. The competition honors well executed projects carried out by finance departments in collaboration with service providers.
Jedox’s most unique aspect
Jedox is one of the only companies that offers a 14 day free trial. Although many others have dabbled with it, Jedox has been consistent and continues to provide this nice perk for businesses who are on the fence about FP&A software.
Along with Datarails, Jedox is the only other platform that got excellent feedback on the Ease of Use scale- one of the biggest reasons why it made the list for top softwares for small businesses and startups.
Jedox has above average scalability thanks to its large range of customers.
Although its scalability and ease of use is great, their upgrades need improvement. Many customers reported a need for ongoing maintenance and support during upgrades- far more than other competitors.
Its basic functions are simplistic and easy to use, but the more advanced features are harder to learn in comparison to other companies.
#4 Workday Adaptive Planning
Workday Adaptive Planning is another all encompassing FP&A solution that caters to businesses of all sizes thanks to their recent merger and rebranding.
In 2018, Adaptive Planning was acquired by parent company Workday to create Workday Adaptive Planning.
This merger was key in their rebranding effort as the FP&A platform was integrated with Workday’s pre-existing Financial Management and HCM programs. It has the potential to integrate all of the systems into one, increasing sales and providing an even more efficient work platform.
Combining the two together means that customers who already use any of Workday’s multitude of software services can now more easily integrate their FP&A software into their business planning. This can be beneficial for small businesses who are already using Workday services and want to use a familiar, integrated company.
Adaptive Planning continues to offer a stand-alone solution for non-Workday customers as well.
However for those small businesses who don’t use pre-existing Workday software, it is advised to look at other options as the price and implementation time run higher than others on the list.
Workday Adaptive Planning Fun Fact
Adaptive Planning made the Forbes 2017 Cloud 100 list, as one of the top 100 Private Cloud Companies Worldwide.
Workday Adaptive Planning’s most unique aspect
The 2018 integration with Workday opened up many opportunities to combine Workday platforms with Adaptive Planning’s FP&A software, essentially creating a wider net of financial planning possibilities with greater scalability for larger enterprises and those who are expecting to scale quickly.
The company has a large variety and range of customers (numbering more than 5,200) and has been around since 2003. This provides more opportunities for accuracy and efficiency due to the volume and length of experience.
Unique Solution Pricing. Although not the cheapest on the list, the company offers 2 levels of pricing: a per seat subscription model and an enterprise subscription model, which encompasses other Workday options and provides unlimited access for a large number of users.
Due to the many options of platforms to integrate into, and Workday differing from Excel, implementation time for Adaptive Planning is longer than others.
The system is limited when executing calculations on some large data sets. In addition it doesn’t handle multiple exchange rates very well, which causes issues for the equity section of balance sheets.
OneStream comes in 5th place for the best FP&A software for small businesses, but still provides lots of great benefits for fitting customers.
One of the biggest things that stands out among OneStream is that the platform provides seamless connections to more than 150 unique GL/ERP systems, on-premise or in the cloud. A few examples are full integrations with SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, NetSuite, Infor, and many more.
The company was founded in 2010 and caters to businesses of all sizes. Although names of giant corporations such as Costco and UPS jump out on the list of customers, OneStream works with over 700 companies ranging in different sizes.
OneStream has a below average implementation time for small businesses, but it does have a slightly more flexible payment options in comparison to others. OneStream will get the FP&A job done, but with an improved implementation time and faster ROI, it would move farther up the list of small business FP&A software.
OneStream Fun Fact
OneStream’s most unique aspect
OneStream surpasses most other FP&A software by a large margin in terms of number of integrations. With over 150 unique integrations, and growing quickly, this is a good selling point for companies with highly complex analytics and lots of third party systems.
High levels of maintenance and ease of upgrades
Complex businesses of any size rank OneStream as a great platform for all of the reasons stated above
Implementation time is one of the slowest out of all the solutions due to the complexity and steep learning curve.
Many users have issues with the Excel add in, making it difficult for small finance teams who are used to Excel.
After analyzing dozens of FP&A tools through customer feedback, company research, and reviews from numerous third party sites, we have put together a list of the top 5 solutions for small businesses. Here are the results:
#1 Datarails- Learn more
#2 Prophix- Learn more
#3 Jedox- Learn more
#4 Workday Adaptive Planning- Learn more
#5 OneStream- Learn more