Best Software, Inc.

Budgeting is arguably among the most arduous, at times, frustrating exercises for managers with spending authority or those charged with evaluating this spending (accounting staff, department heads, business planners, etc.). It is an annual ritual of prognostication with an output that is only as good as the information (data) and intellectual intelligence (people) that go into it. Each of its many components is dynamically tied to its overall integrity, since a change in any one of them could have repercussions that impact any number of other areas. As with any instrument developed from assumptions and projections, its soundness is contingent upon the degree to which a hypothetical scenario comes to fruition. In today's business climate, the only constant is constant change, making budgeting even more demanding a process. On show #549A ("Strategic Planning and Development") World Business Review looks at the solutions that are fostering strategic planning and budgeting synergies and helping companies respond more quickly to market and internal conditions.

Best Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: BEST), offers best-of-breed corporate resource management solutions, which help companies to better manage their people, fixed assets and planning processes. They help companies become more efficient planners by integrating their strategic planning and annual budgeting cycle fixmestick with their enterprise data sources, look fixmestick. They understand that an effective budgeting process requires collaboration and communication from people at all levels of an organization to accommodate frequent and rapid changes in business assumptions and drivers.

The Best! Imperativ Analytics line of affordable, high-performance applications for the client/server environment satisfies requirements for strategic planning, budgeting, analysis and allocation. Its "template" modeling application accurately depicts the way a company truly functions, eliminating the redundancy and other shortcomings of general-purpose applications, such as spreadsheets. These applications enable customers to focus on improving performance by modeling business scenarios, which assists in maximizing their adaptability.

Don Howren, general manager, Advanced Analytic Applications for Best, said, "One of the exciting things about Best! Imperativ Analytics is that it better enables companies to react to change, whether that change is a financial condition or an unplanned merger or acquisition. It also enables them to be more strategic and react to change in their own organization."

As part of a strategic alliance with Microsoft Corporation, Best! Imperativ Analytics applications are standardized on Microsoft BackOffice, and are the only proven strategic planning and analytical applications on the Microsoft Windows NT platform.

Christy Reichhelm, mid-market ERP and accounting industry marketing manager for Microsoft, appeared as co-panelist on the program. She said, "We work closely with (Best) to make sure they're kept abreast of every change we make to our platforms and tools and to help get the message out on the street about what their product can do."

Reichhelm added, "Together, we bring a new solution for growing companies that is so cost-effective that, even at the small end of the market, a company can afford to implement it with a lower total cost of ownership and higher return on investment. Companies now have an open architecture foundation on which to build. They buy into a solution and know that if they grow along the way, the solution will grow along with them.

Howren added, "One of the exciting things about the Microsoft BackOffice foundation, which is based on Microsoft NT and SQL server, is that it allows organizations to deploy products like Best! Imperativ Analytics and really reduce the overall cost of ownership. We are fortunate to have a platform that allows for a high degree of scalability, so if a company starts off small in their budgeting process and then, through some very rapid growth, increases the user community in the budgeting process from 10 to 200, it will support that rapid growth."

Industry expert, Dan Miklovic, senior research director of the Gartner Group and director emeritus of the Industrial Computing Society, described the challenges associated with budgeting as being a matter of resource availability and allocation. He said, "People in mid-market companies, which is where this is targeted, have other jobs to do and often those are very time consuming, tedious things. What they need is software that will allow them to do their real job and do the budgeting."

A World Business Review field report showed how Namco Cybertainment is generating budgets faster and more accurately than before, using Best Software's Budget Manager program. Namco, the US subsidiary of the Japanese video game company of Pac Man fame, has more than 500 video arcades in 48 states and Puerto Rico. Michelle Waltz, controller of Namco Cybertainment, said the product is user-friendly. "It's very, very flexible, very easy to use. One person - myself - was able to do the entire corporate budget," said Waltz.

Since budgeting is so arduous and companies must rapidly respond to market and internal triggers, they need tools that can tap into the pulse of their organization and effortlessly reconfigure to meet all impending or conceivable demands. Microsoft's Christy Reichhelm cited the term, "the digital nervous system", an expression coined by Microsoft Chairman, Bill Gates, as a company's ability to respond to stimuli (external and internal) just as a human body would in the event of an emergency. She explained that it is this ability to easily access necessary data and resources that enables a company's resources to make wise decisions. "Best! Imperativ Analytics offers a solution set that helps companies do just that," she added.