Marketing budget nightmare with a spreadsheet

Our point of view

5mn   Beginner Level

In September, you will surely start again this infernal circle that is the creation of your budget for next year. For many of you, this means consolidating disparate data (ERP Finance, spreadsheets, various databases and even emails). And a lot of coffee and evenings spent in the office.

And that’s just the beginning of the nightmare!

The classic budgeting process of a multinational company

For planning purposes, the exercise generally begins 4 months before the start of the next fiscal year, when the Group asks each subsidiary for its projected budget.

Each subsidiary does the exercise in its corner based on the budget spent on the current year (not completed) and the projection for the next year. And generally sends back a spreadsheet with its figures. First consolidation exercise at Group Marketing level.

Discussions with the Finance department lead to arbitration and we set off on a series of back-and-forth meetings, on the one hand between group marketing and local marketing, and on the other hand between group marketing and group finance.

Once the budgets were set, the process repeated itself every month: local marketing submitted the expenses, which were consolidated at the group level, which sent them to Group Finance, which itself received the consolidated figures from local finance… and the figures did not match!
Hence the hours spent looking for the discrepancy

The main problems with spreadsheet-based budgets

Consolidation of budgets is complicated

In the example above, a multinational company with about 30 countries to manage is not extraordinary. If we add that there are sometimes individual budgets per channel (web, events, emailing, content….) this can represent more than a hundred tables to consolidate. So many manual copy – paste operations and formulas (ah research….) subject to error.

The validation process is not optimal

Once the country has sent its budget forecast on the server, the group must be notified – by email? The person in charge opens the spreadsheet, recopies, consolidates, exchanges with the finances, arbitrates, extracts the decisions for the country and sends back the result!

A lot of manual operations, and files exchanged…. It is difficult to establish a dialogue in the spreadsheet on one or two lines, you have to send back a new version of the file each time and go through the consolidation process again.

Spreadsheets are not really scalable or flexible

If you have hundreds of marketing programs, spread over dozens of countries and a handful of business lines, you can end up with thousands of lines. Of course, spreadsheet capacities have increased, but honestly, who wants to work with more than a hundred lines at a time?

Similarly, once your spreadsheet and your process have been set up and are running smoothly, it is at this point that the group decides to reorganize and change the lines of business, the channels… all operations that require the removal of rows or columns in all the files.

The number of input and analysis dimensions is limited

Spreadsheets work very well with two dimensions for analysis. With three (geography, channel and time), it’s already more complicated. Once you add the lines of business, you explode.

Tracking changes and auditing is problematic

If several people work on a table, it is difficult to keep track of who did what and when. This can be quite problematic when it comes to knowing if the co-worker has charged their lines correctly.


Fortunately, you can wake up and get out of the nightmare; and enter the 21st century with budget automation coupled with your marketing automation platform and CRM! Automated Marketing Resource Management solutions address the above issues and become a good management practice for budgets.

We will detail in a future article the qualities of Allocadia, which can be coupled with Marketo and your CRM.

Posted By Sylvain

For the past 20 years, Sylvain has been choosing and assembling the best technologies for his key account clients, to help them create a successful end-to-end customer experience. Surely the Leonard of the team, he is a fan - and expert - of Marketo! He sits next to his clients, drives them forward and makes Marketing Automation projects succeed with his team.