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Planful vs. Datarails


Planful and Datarails are two of the leading FP&A solutions in 2024. While this article will break down the differences in detail let’s give a quick overview of each one and who they are meant for.


Planful is an FP&A solution that was built for large companies and enterprises. They have some great reviews for these size businesses, but don’t fit as good for small and medium sized ones. Planful has a great AI feature called Planful Predict and it is a big selling point in 2024. It has a long implementation time, higher pricing (although cheaper than other similar enterprise level FP&A solutions), and tends to recquire multi-year contracts.


Datarails is a native Excel FP&A solution that is meant for small and medium sized businesses. It too has an AI feature called FP&A Genius that is similar to Planful’s but is in a chatbot format and provides answers to finance questions along with visuals. Datarails pricing is significantly lower and a shorter implementation time as well.


Read on to see the similarities and differences more in depth.


Introduction

Finance is currently undergoing a significant transformation. Over the past few years, there has been a strong emphasis on automation as the volume of data and its sources have continuously expanded. The growing adoption of AI in the financial sector has led companies to actively seek out the most effective methods to automate their financial departments and maintain a competitive edge.


This article will compare Planful and Datarails, two of the best FP&A tools that also have AI capabilities tailored for finance teams. These tools are reshaping the financial landscape by simplifying operations and eradicating manual tasks. Encompassing tasks such as analyzing financial data, creating budgets and forecasts, managing accounting processes, and ensuring tax adherence and regulatory compliance, these advanced solutions empower finance teams to concentrate on strategic decision-making and higher-value tasks.


Planful and Datarails stand out as leading contenders in the current market. They both present exceptional offerings with nuanced strengths and weaknesses that warrant attention.


Let’s go over the differences, pricing, features, and pros and cons of Datarails and Planful.







Pricing


One of the most important factors that companies look into before making a decision is pricing. So let’s jump right into it.


Datarails Pricing


Datarails is an FP&A software that caters to small and medium sized businesses and therefore has more friendly pricing plans. Datarails does not provide pricing on their website and provides customized quotes only. From our research, customers with Datarails report that plans start at around $24,000 per year and can go up depending on the size of the company, the amount of data etc.


Planful Pricing


Planful is meant for larger businesses and enterprises and therefore their price is significantly higher than Datarails. Although it tends to be more cost friendly than similar enterprise-focused FP&A solutions such as Workday Adaptive Planning and Anaplan, they are considered to be on the costier side. In addition, customers have reported that businesses are required to sign mulit-year contracts and their implementation fees tend to be significantly higher than Datarails due to the length of time and the fact that they are done through a 3rd party.


AI in FP&A Software


You can’t talk about Datarails and Planful without mentioning AI. Datarails was the first complete FP&A solution to announce an AI chatbot-like feature (called FP&A Genius), while Planful followed with an AI feature of their own (Planful Predict) that helps predict accurate budgets and forecasts.


What is Datarails’ FP&A Genius?


For quite some time, Datarails has been at the forefront of revolutionizing the automation of manual tasks and enabling finance experts to concentrate on their strategic contributions. With the introduction of FP&A Genius, a ChatGPT-style chatbot designed for financial professionals, Datarails has elevated their automation efforts to new heights. Familiar to those in finance, the constant inquiries about potential scenarios from management often arise. It now offers a solution to address these queries with heightened precision and remarkable speed, surpassing previous standards.


FP&A Genius represents an AI-powered instrument with the capacity to potentially revolutionize the FP&A sector entirely. By swiftly retrieving data and providing prompt and accurate responses, this tool ensures both safety and visual aids, including dashboards for enhanced reporting, further enhancing its capabilities.



Highlights:


Real-time Data Connectivity: The Datarails chatbot maintains a live connection to data, ensuring that every decision relies on the most precise and current information available.


Centralized Data Authority: Similar to the overarching function of Datarails, FP&A Genius consolidates all financial integrations and data origins of the company into a singular, reliable source of truth.


Protected Data Integrity: Unlike ChatGPT and alternative AI applications, the data furnished by the Datarails' chatbot originates from trustworthy and fortified sources, guaranteeing its security.


Interactive Dashboards and Visuals: As a component of its responses, FP&A Genius furnishes intuitive dashboards and visual aids. This proves exceptionally beneficial for presenting answers to management, as the visuals are clear-cut and obviate the need for PowerPoint creation.


What is Planful Predict?


Similar to FP&A Genius, Planful Predict serves as a component within FP&A software, catering to senior-level CFOs and CEOs. Its purpose is to enhance the precision and speed of decision-making by replacing the laborious tasks of numerical analysis and reporting.


Planful Predict merges the data integration capabilities of FP&A tools with the power of AI and Machine Learning, resulting in highly accurate performance insights and recommendations for steering the business forward.


In contrast to Datarails FP&A Genius, which presents AI-generated answers alongside dashboards and visual representations, Planful Predict places its focus on identifying vulnerabilities within a company's financial framework through its feature called Planful Predict: Signals and Predict: Projections.



Predict: Signals


Planful Predict: Signals enables users to proactively address discrepancies and irregularities in data using AI-powered anomaly detection. By identifying variations, anomalies, and errors in data such as miscalculations, formula malfunctions, or planning assumptions gone awry, users are provided with immediate insights to refine and verify scenario data.


• Speed up the processes of budgeting and planning, incorporating dynamic planning methods such as rolling forecasts, and granting authority to line managers.

• Decrease the duration of financial closure and reporting cycles, enhance oversight, bolster trust in outcomes, and automate the generation of filings, reports, and presentations.

• Create simulations of alternative scenarios to comprehend vital business determinants, conduct hands-on queries and analysis, and develop practical models to harmonize financial and operational aspects.


This ensures the delivery of reliable recommendations backed by confidence. Predict: Signals enhances the analytical capacity of an FP&A team, granting them the opportunity to prioritize efforts effectively. Moreover, it eliminates the need for specialized data science knowledge.


Predict: Projections


This platform empowering business users to swiftly construct precise projections and budgetary possibilities supported by AI-fueled financial forecasting. This allows planning cycles to commence from a reliable foundation.


Eliminate unproductive hours spent on number updates, refining plans from disconnected data, or basing decisions on fixed forecasts. Harness the capabilities of Predict: Projections to generate reliable forecasts, enabling finance teams to connect plans with business results impartially.


COMPARISON: Planful vs. Datarails

Now that we covered some of the most important details like pricing, customer fit, and the differences in their AI capabilities, let's take a look at 4 of the most important details that prospects often compare and declare a winner in each category:

  • Integrations

  • AI Capabilities

  • Features and Functionalities

  • Implementation time

1) Integrations


Both Datarails and Planful offer integrations with popular software platforms to enhance financial planning and analysis processes. Datarails covers a broader range of integrations with platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365, NetSuite, QuickBooks, SAP CRM, Sage 100cloud, and Xero. On the other hand, Planful offers integrations with Microsoft Excel and Sage Intacct, focusing on empowering users to combine their financial data with their planning and analysis platform.


However, the biggest difference is in the native integration with Excel. Datarails’ interface is completey native Excel allowing for finance teams to make a seamless transition into the software, while Planful only provides a “regular” integration with Excel and recquires more time and resources to learn their platform.

Winner: Datarails


2) AI Capabilities


Chances are if you are checking out both Datarails and Planful then AI is one of the functions that you would like to see in your FP&A platform. We covered FP&A Genius and Planful Predict above, but we will highlight the main differences here again. While both features help businesses save time and make more accurate and quick decisions, Datarails’ FP&A Genius provides a user-friendly chatbot that can answer any questions and even provide visuals and charts. Planful Predict uses AI to help predict forecasts and budgets but is more limited in the types of answers and visualizations that it provides.


Winner: Datarails


3) Features and Functionalities


In the field of cloud solutions like FP&A software, the vital factor in creating an exceptional product lies in the optimal blend of an extensive range of features coupled with an emphasis on simplicity and user-friendliness. Indeed, both companies excel in achieving this balance.


Datarails and Planful offer an array of capabilities that enable businesses to efficiently create precise budgets and error-free forecasts while saving time through automated processes and seamless integration. From financial analytics to scenario modeling and financial close management, both Planful and Datarails present a suite of features that position them as two of the most outstanding solutions available in the market.


Nevertheless, Planful took a step further by encompassing not only business intelligence and performance management, but it also added a new dimension by integrating sophisticated data visualization techniques and empowering strategic planning processes. This expansion brought a comprehensive enhancement to Planful’s scope, enabling it to offer a more holistic and robust solution that caters to diverse aspects of data-driven decision-making and organizational strategy, focusing on large enterprises.



Winner: Planful


4) Implementation time


The amount of time it takes to implement a software is always a big consideration when choosing a solution, and these FP&A software differ greatly. Planful focuses on large enterprise companies and there tends to be a much higher learning curve due to the size of the change as well as the less flexible and non native-Excel platform that Planful provides. In addition, Planful uses a third-party service for implementation, meaning that communication is not always done directly with them. Planful tends to fit well for large enterprises who don’t mind spending the time to implement a new system that will save them time in the long run.


Datarails on the other hand, tends to be more of a self-learning software as it is completely native Excel with a short learning curve and in-house implementation. The FP&A Genius feature is also quite simple as it functions as a chatbot that can be asked questions in human form. All in all Planful tends to take more than 6 months for full implementation in big enterprises, while small and medium size businesses report spending less than a month for full implementation with Datarails (1-2 weeks for initial implementation).


Winner: Datarails


Final Thoughts


The finance industry is in the midst of a transformative journey fueled by automation and AI adoption. As financial data volumes expand, tools like Datarails' FP&A Genius and Planful's Predict are reshaping financial processes. These tools streamline operations, allowing finance teams to focus on strategic decisions.


Datarails' FP&A Genius introduces a revolutionary chatbot that provides rapid and accurate responses, bolstered by real-time data connectivity and centralized data authority. Planful's Predict employs AI-powered anomaly detection for data refinement and precise projections for budgeting.


Both solutions are huge time-savers and allow for better data analysis and decisions. Based on our research, Datarails is the winner of the 2 thanks to its more affordable pricing, faster implementation time, and more intuitive and native-Excel platform but it also comes down to what your needs are.


Planful is best for large companies or enterprises who have the time and commitment for a long term solution that will greatly upgrade their finance function. Datarails is best for small and medium sized businesses that use a lot of Excel and are looking for a more affordable upgrade to their budgeting and forecasting.


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