'

Are half of businesses clueless?

The biggest problem is that companies aren't using modern tools. Some 78% still base their forecasting on simple spreadsheets, including 68% of big companies, and 45% haven't rebuilt their financial models in the last three years.

Back in 1962, when the New York Mets first entered the National League, manager Casey Stengel moaned, "Can't anyone here play this game?" The lament eventually became the title of a classic book from Jimmy Breslin about that team. (The image is from CaseyStengel.Com.)

Were he still with us (at age 106) Stengel might say the same thing about American business. Because a new survey shows half of all U.S. businesses fail at the basics of budgeting, forecasting and reporting.

You may, if you wish, consider the source. The survey was from BPM Partners, which pushes for better "business process management," as it's called. And it was paid for by Adaptive Planning, which (voila) sells an open source BPM application.

But still. The responses of over 750 professionals, from companies of all sizes, were graded based on best practices, with a score of 110 out of 125 needed to be rated outstanding. Fewer than 8, less than 1%, made that grade.

A passing grade was 71 out of 125 (that's 57%, and if your kid got that on a report card he or she would be grounded for life) and half of them didn't even do that well.

The biggest problem is that companies aren't using modern tools. Some 78% still base their forecasting on simple spreadsheets, including 68% of big companies, and 45% haven't rebuilt their financial models in the last three years.

BPM CEO Craig Schiff said in a press statement that simple changes could help many companies outpace their competition. "Most finance departments have not embraced best practice technologies and processes," he concluded.

Why not? Probably because most think it's expensive, and it is, even with open source software. You have to change, and change is always expensive.

But could we please (pretty please) put this into our corporate Christmas stockings, before we fall further behind the rest of the world? The '62 Mets, after all, were funny. This isn't.