Alight is getting set to release the latest version of its corporate budgeting and strategic planning software next week.

Version 4.5 of Alight Planning features expanded support for importing and integrating actuals data. Finance staff will have the ability to automatically perform variance and causal analysis between actuals data and plan data, spread actuals data into rolling forecasts and model actuals data.

"You can compare the actuals data to plan data," said Alight president Rand Heer. "The software does variance analysis and volume rate analysis."

By identifying the variance in units and rates between actual and plan data, Alight Planning allows accountants to understand unexpected changes in a company's underlying head count, in addition to factors such as production volumes that drive variable costs. With causal or volume/rate analysis, accountants 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.

The cost of a typical five-user system is $12,000, with a 20 percent annual upgrade fee, according to Heer. He said his company has about 85 customers, including health insurer Kaiser Permanente and forest products maker Weyerhaeuser.

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