Software evaluation

Vena reviews: How does Vena Solutions compare to the alternatives?

Updated: August 28, 2023 |

By

Jim Bullis
Jim Bullis

Jim Bullis has over 13 years of experience implementing CPM/EPM tools and other finance software, as well as consulting and supporting a wide range of clients from Fortune 500 organizations, to privately held corporations generating over $100M in revenue, to public sector entities.

Vena reviews: How does Vena Solutions compare to the alternatives?

This is our full review of Vena Solutions.

We're here to review the pros and cons of Vena and answer some common questions you might have:

  • What is Vena?
  • What are Vena Solution's key features?
  • Is Vena useful for enterprise companies?
  • What integrations does Vena offer?

Let's get started.

Jim Bullis

Jim Bullis

Head of Pre-Sales & Solutions, Cube Software

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What is Vena Solutions?

Vena Solutions, sometimes called Vena Complete Planning, is an FP&A tool for teams that prefer to stay in an Excel-based environment.

One of Vena's biggest selling points is that it keeps you in Excel and supports you with a web portal.

Some core Vena use cases include: 

But what does Vena really offer its customers?

Let's get into it.

Our Vena Solutions review

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Vena does some things well. It's an efficient way to sync your data with multiple Vena users. An Excel add-in means you can keep Excel as your main working environment—a big win for your team's overall efficiency. And there's a drill-down function, which helps you see entries at a more granular data level.

Several FP&A professionals like Vena because:

That said, Vena customers report some issues:

Who is Vena Solutions best for?

Vena offers solutions for specific use cases for many industries, including:

  • Banking & credit unions
  • SaaS
  • Hospitality
  • Higher education
  • Professional sports
  • Non-profit

Most of Vena customers are in the middle market.

Is Vena useful for an enterprise company?

While an enterprise company can use Vena, it's best for SMBs and the mid-market.

So if you think the Vena growth engine is the best fit for you and work at an enterprise company, rest assured: Vena has plenty of enterprise customers.

Vena Solutions pricing

We couldn't find any Vena pricing tiers or numbers on its website or on third-party review sites.

We've heard that Vena offers pricing on a per-seat and service-tier basis. We've also heard that much of their comes from professional services.

Vena Solutions integrations

Like most comparable tools, the Vena growth engine integrates with standard source systems. 

Vena Solutions has no shortage of integrations. Here's a sampling that we found: 

  • NetSuite
  • Intuit QuickBooks
  • Sage Intacct
  • Oracle
  • SAP
  • IBM
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Salesforce
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Vena Solutions pros & cons

As mentioned, one of Vena's biggest selling points is its Excel add-in. Only Cube and Vena can claim to be genuine Excel-native (not connected through an extension or a plug-in) platforms.

Finance teams with considerable Excel experience can use these solutions without a steep learning curve.

Here's what Vena Solutions does well:

  • Preconfigured templates and reports
  • Excel add-in
  • Web portal interface to manage source system connections
  • Wide range of industry-specific use cases

That said, Vena offers some real flaws.

Long implementation timelines incur additional costs and require extreme changes to existing workflows

One of the biggest red flags we see about the company is that their implementation timeline is too long. Customers report implementations taking between 8 to 10 weeks, although that can be much longer depending on the complexity of your current setups. 

This is because, like many other tools, Vena entrenches itself in your backend. It's not plug-and-play like Cube and requires extended planning to get up and running. 

The end result?

Lots of spaghetti references in Excel, complete with hidden rows and columns to give the illusion of a cohesive data system. 

This also means that the implementation timeline stretches beyond what's reasonable. 

And it means that your data is trapped in Vena, as offboarding will be expensive in time and money.

This brings us to the next thing we caution FP&A professionals about when considering the Vena growth engine.

Vena's professional services model is designed to incur surprise costs and create dependencies on the Vena team

Professional services always sound like a good deal. And they can be great. But when they come at the expense of your ability to self-service and control over your own data, there's a big problem.

For example, if you're running behind schedule on a project and run into a problem where you can't self-service, you're no longer on your own timeline. You're on the Vena customer support team's timeline. This causes late projects to become more late. Unless you've done extended planning and accounted for potential delay from the onset, this isn't ideal for most teams. 

Likewise, professional services cost a lot of money. So you need extra budgeting for those expenses. This means that Vena Solutions is much costlier than the sticker price suggests, as you'll spend most of your money after implementation.

Vena makes it difficult to unwind and customize your models, leading to you being trapped in the highly opinionated Vena environment

Even if you're okay with paying for professional services, you still need to be wary of being trapped doing things the Vena way.

Here's what we mean: 

Vena offers many preconfigured templates and reports. These canned templates will almost certainly require a degree of customization to meet your preferences and requirements. Vena's professional services team and consultants will make those changes for you.

But it's not all roses.

This creates two big problems: 

  1. Without a lot of legwork on your end, you won't understand how your models and reports operate. When it comes time to scrutinize or double-check all your assumptions, you'll be faced with a big learning curve.
  2. It's nearly impossible to unwind your models, as you won't understand the logic that got you to the numbers you see. 

So this makes it hard to embrace your existing models.

And it also leads to a systems design problem around the lack of standardization in components of your FP&A ecosystem.

It makes onboarding new team members expensive, as they need to learn Vena in addition to everything else.

It takes away your power to self-service.

The expenses of setting up the Vena growth engine encourages you to fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy. Likewise, the high cost of leaving Vena encourages you to stay...but that's also costing you

So it's essential to consider the potential long-term outcomes of switching to Vena Solutions because you might be unable to switch to anything else despite the changing needs during your company's unique growth journey.

Vena's closed ecosystem makes it difficult to share reports with stakeholders lacking a Vena license

One of the other ways Vena's ecosystem can cause surprise expenses is by sharing reports.

If you share a report with a stakeholder who lacks a Vena license, they'll be able to view it but won't be able to make edits.

To share editable reports, there's a workaround: copy and paste the values into a separate Vena file.

This makes collaboration difficult unless you've bought extra Vena licenses, which doesn't make sense for stakeholders who won't be frequent Vena users. 

Vena's lack of Google Sheets inability artificially reduces transparency and collaboration within your organization

You might prefer to work in Excel, but one of the big unlocks of other systems is their web-based portal that enables easier sharing and collaboration.

One of Vena's most glaring weaknesses as a spreadsheet-based system is that it doesn't integrate with Google Sheets.

So while you could use the powerful Google ecosystem to collaborate across the organization—your CEO, department leaders, and board members use Google Sheets anyway—Vena restricts that.

Compare that to a solution like Cube, which embraces the flexibility of a cloud-based spreadsheet like Google Sheets. Now you can collaborate on budgeting and easily share reports using Google Sheets. 

In fact, Google Sheets functionality is one of our customer base's favorite features, which often surprises them. 

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Vena Solutions competitors and alternatives

The market offers many options for FP&A tools that serve the broad spectrum of organizations. These alternatives are especially plentiful for a SMB and mid-market company looking to broaden their financial reporting capabilities.

We review some of these best-in-class tools in this review:  The Top 10 Best FP&A Software Tools.

Here are some options comparable to Vena, many of which are found in our Top 10. 

1. Cube Software

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Cube is the first spreadsheet-native FP&A platform that empowers finance teams to plan faster, more nimbly, and more scalably without changing how they work. 

Our cloud-based FP&A software helps finance teams work more effectively by collecting and centralizing data into a single source of truth. 

This empowers teams to create plans and reports based on that trusted data in the spreadsheets they know and love.

As a market leader, Cube transforms FP&A with a spreadsheet-native platform that offers fast, flexible, and scalable financial analysis for continuous collaboration and insights at any stage of a company's growth journey. 

Many high-growth companies (like Masterworks and Unqork) use Cube for all their FP&A needs.

Because here's the thing:

Cube can do almost everything Vena Solutions does and then some.

For example, Cube: 

  • Has a true, native Excel integration with all versions of Excel to keep you in your favorite working environment
  • Is intuitive for everybody who's used a spreadsheet so onboarding new employees and users is quick
  • Onboards new accounts 5x faster than the competition so you see immediate value
  • Uses simple formulas for creating reports so that you can understand exactly how you've arrived at your numbers
  • Doesn't charge for ongoing customer support so you can stay on plan and within budget
  • Works perfectly on Mac OS X and Google Sheets for easier reporting, even with non-Cube users

Perhaps even more importantly, the company was founded by a former CFO. The problems and use cases of FP&A have been baked into the Cube growth journey since its inception.

FP&A teams already know and love spreadsheets. Cube simplifies many of the headaches of the often challenging finance led planning process—like collecting actuals from other departments or checking and verifying that your numbers are correct—and lets teams turn their complicated budgeting process into a lean operation.

So, why are we a market leader? Check out all of the 5-star reviews from Cube customers on Capterra.

Sounds like a fit for your company? Book your demo with Cube today. Keep scrolling to learn more.

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Features:

  • Automated data consolidation: Connect data from numerous sources for automated rollups and drilldowns.
  • Multi-scenario analysis: Allows you to seamlessly model how changes to key assumptions affect overall outputs.
  • Endless integrationsIntegrations for spreadsheets (Google and Excel), accounting & finance, HR, ATS, billing & operations, sales & marketing, and business intelligence. 
  • Customizable dashboards: Gives you the full ability to build and share customizable dashboards.
  • Native Excel and Google Sheets integration: Compatible and bi-directional with any spreadsheet
  • Multi-currency support: Evaluate your financials in both your local and reporting currencies.
  • User-based controls: User controls, validations, and an audit trail ensure that the correct data goes to the right people at the right time.
  • Centralized formulas and KPIs: Store all your calculations in a central location and manage from a single source of truth.
  • Drilldown and audit trail: Get straight to the transactions and history behind a single data cell in just one click.

➡️ See all of our features here.

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Pros

  • Powerful reporting and KPIs help automate and analyze important data.
  • Streamline manual data, reduce errors, and improve collaboration so you can make smarter business decisions in a fraction of the time.
  • You can easily collaborate with industry-leading FP&A experts and an award-winning support team.
  • Integrations with dozens of applications.
  • Proper, native Excel integration with all versions of Excel (no coding or formulas needed)
  • Always reliable during sophisticated Excel calculations
  • Standard implementation time that's 5x shorter than the competition
  • Quick fresh and fetch times
  • Intuitive, easy, and customizable reporting
  • Simple formulas for making reports
  • User-friendly user interface and controls
  • Easy permission management
  • Integrates with more source systems
  • Has full Mac OS X compatibility
  • Is an always-correct single source of truth
  • Built and designed by a former serial CFO
  • Supports finance-led planning
  • Works with any size company

Cons:

  • Cube works best for mid-sized and commercial businesses–it’s not a personal finance app.
  • Cube is built for finance professionals and is not a solution for learning FP&A for the first time.
  • Pricing (below) is not designed for pre-series A startups.

Pricing:

  • Starting at $1,250/month for lean finance teams and $2,450/month for companies looking to scale. See detailed pricing.

Best for: Mid-size and enterprise FP&A teams looking to save time and grow. Cube also works for hyper-growth SMBs who want a solution that will scale with their organization's unique growth journey.

Curious to see if Cube is a fit for your company? Book your demo now.

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2. Planful

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Planful, formerly Host Analytics, is one of the market's best-established FP&A platforms. Planful, as the name suggests, specializes in helping you plan better, whether in strategy, budgeting, or forecasting.

Key features

Pros

  • Strong customer service team
  • Reusable templates for efficiency 

Cons

  • Accuracy issues when updating formulas
  • Tricky collaboration 
  • Different reporting tools for templates
  • High learning curve 

Pricing

Planful doesn't list its prices online.

3. Workday Adaptive Planning

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Workday Adaptive Planning is another market leader and Vena competitor. Workday Adaptive Planning is a complete FP&A solution that offers everything: budgeting and forecasting, workforce planning, financial reporting, and compliance assistance.

However, Workday Adaptive Planning might be too heavy for most companies: their ideal customer is an enterprise company. Like Vena, they have a reputation for longer implementation timelines.

Key features

Pros

  • Predictive models 
  • Cloud-based 
  • Integrates with other Workday products

Cons

  • Limited training resources and high learning curve
  • Advanced reporting can be challenging to learn 

Pricing

Workday doesn't list pricing on its website. 

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Vena Solutions reviews

Overall sentiment for Vena reviews is positive, scoring a 4.6/5 on Gartner and an 8.7/10 on TrustRadius as of this writing.

What do reviewers like about Vena Solutions?

Reviewers love that Vena connects to their accounting systems, ERPs, HRISs, and other source systems. Not needing to manage their source system data is one of the best benefits of Vena.

We noticed other patterns in Vena Solutions reviews: faster forecasting times, simpler budgeting processes, and more consolidated financial statements. In other words: Vena helped slim down much of the bloat that finance teams were otherwise running into.

What don't reviewers like about Vena Solutions?

We noticed two consistent patterns with negative Vena Solutions reviews.

First, the tool is difficult to adapt to and learn if you're not an Excel expert. So if you're acquiring Vena Solutions to eventually introduce other teams to the tool, you should know that not everybody finds it intuitive and easy to use.

The second is that the implementation process can take too long or be too expensive. One particularly disgruntled Vena user said their implementation period was initially slated for two months and ended up last eight...with no end in sight.

While that's almost certainly an edge case, it's worth flagging.

Conclusion: is Vena the Solution for you?

Vena could be a tenable option for those teams that are already Excel-savvy and who need a step up from pure Excel or want to integrate with their existing Microsoft platform tools. 

Vena could be too technical for an organization with a cross-section of users. Fast-growing companies should be aware that as they grow, they may experience declining performance as they add complexity. 

We know you love your spreadsheets. We do too. After all, 92% of FP&A professionals use spreadsheets every month.

But that doesn't mean you have to default to Vena if you want to have your cake and eat it too. 

If you’re looking for an Excel-native platform with plenty of longevity and without technical limitations, Cube is an excellent alternative (and a market leader!)

Request a demo today.

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