Alight LLC, maker of Alight Planning software, today announced the immediate availability of Alight Planning Version 4.5 featuring expanded support for importing and integrating actuals. Version 4.5’s new features for combining actuals data into plan files further enhance its groundbreaking driver-based planning architecture, giving finance staff the ability to automatically perform variance and causal analysis between actuals and plan, spread actuals data into rolling forecasts, and model actuals data using Alight’s unique units/rate/amount architecture.
Alight LCC, named “Best New Vendor of 2008” by BPM Partners for its Alight Planning product, has raised the bar in financial planning software with the debut of Alight Planning 4.5. Using Microsoft Excel® as an upload/mapping tool, Alight Planning 4.5 can import actuals data at any level of detail, and from any operational or financial database, into plan files for true apples-to-apples comparisons of actuals and plan information. Its advanced features deliver unparalleled insights into business forecasts and strategies.
“Typically, integrating actuals and comparing to plan is a zoo,” said Rand Heer, president of Alight LLC. “Financial and operating results are spread across multiple databases and are difficult to normalize. Drivers are rarely visible, and if available, they’re not accessible for both actuals and plan on an apples-to-apples basis. Moreover, actuals data usually have levels of detail that don’t match up with the planning side. Alight Planning automatically resolves these issues, strengthening the planning process and generating results that stand up in the real world of board meetings and operating reviews.”
With Alight Planning 4.5, analysts can leverage the unit/rate/amount structure to instantly gain valuable insights into both financial and operational performance. By identifying the variance in units and rates between actual and plan data, for example, Alight Planning allows finance to understand unexpected changes in underlying headcount and operational factors such as production volumes that drive variable costs.
Alight Planning’s integrated actuals capabilities can also help mid-market companies perform causal analysis, one of the most powerful of variance analysis functions and a discipline common in Fortune 500 companies. With causal analysis, sometime called volume/rate analysis, finance can identify at the line item level how much of a dollar variance amount is due to a variance in the underlying unit volumes versus the underlying cost or price rate. Such analysis is invaluable for understanding the true operational drivers of a business that affect profitability and cash flow. No other planning product provides this capability out-of-box.
Alight Planning 4.5’s integrated actuals capability also facilitates rolling forecasts, which combine actuals and forecasts data for an updated view of the business. For example, planners can use any of seven different algorithms for “spreading” actuals data into plan time periods. As well, finance staff can create forecast line items that “look back” on actuals as an activity driver—for example, referencing actual open orders as a driver for forecast future sales, or referencing actual booked sales commissions to forecast future quarterly commission payments.
In addition to its actuals integration capability, Alight Planning 4.5 also features a number of upgrades that make daily use faster and more convenient, from better calculation performance to an improved user interface. For a live demo of Alight Planning 4.5 that explains the features and strategic approach of the product, or for more information about Alight LLC, visit www.alightplanning.com.