Automating the IT planning process right before the budget cycle kicks in sounds risky. Every vendor talks about “out-of-the-box” functionality and “easy” implementation but many times, the outcome isn’t as quick and easy as hoped.

Let’s assume you’ve already decided your planning process must change. You’re tired of the inefficient spreadsheet-based process for going back and forth between budget owners. You dread the inevitable mistakes that will happen in the reconciliation of budgets. You REALLY dread the questions that will send you back into the multiple versions of spreadsheets you’ve compiled in search of answers that satisfy your executives.

Why? Because it’s very difficult to defend numbers you can’t explain in business terms that resonate with your audience.

This was the case at Caesars. In a recent case study, How IT improved budget variance and predictability to help drive a major modernization effort, IT leaders report that in the past, budget owners would aggregate spend without having to defend the details. Plans were built in time-consuming, error-prone spreadsheets that were difficult to translate and share.

Linda Schmitz, Senior Director of IT Financial Planning, considered using a corporate management tool to automate the budget process. But the solution didn’t offer enough functionality; for example, the ability to drill into IT specific line items like labor, hardware, software, and vendors. Plus, her customers (budget owners) weren’t familiar with financial planning products, which meant a steep learning curve for users.

»Related content: Why IT needs its own planning tool

Instead, Schmitz and team opted for IT finance-specific capabilities to tackle a fast-approaching budget cycle, and they were surprised and pleased by how quickly they were able to get the solution up and running. Within 4­–5 weeks, end users were uploading budgets and verifying data in the new solution.

By week six, Schmitz and team were using the software to present their 2017 budget to the CIO and CFO, significantly ahead of the corporate plan. And, instead of only being able to give the executives a high-level summary of IT spend, IT Finance was able to share the line item detail that justified the plan. “It gave us a lot of credibility,” said Schmitz.

The details matter. Transparency builds trust that helps teams move faster and more confidently. This is certainly true at Caesars today, where budget owners have the ability to drill into key areas of IT spend to justify investments, building confidence and credibility with C-suite decision makers.

Corporate finance now has more confidence when they give us approval to move forward with some of [our] large transformation initiatives. They know we’re managing them well, we’re on top of the details, and we can share feedback on status, spend, and value at any time. It’s really enabled the IT organization to jump into some large projects that may not have been approved in the past.

Linda Schmitz

Senior Director of IT Financial Planning, Caesars

To learn more about how Caesars IT built executive confidence in the budget, view the case study or watch the video below.