Long planning cycles. Short-lived plans. Siloed efforts. Hard-to- find errors. And never enough time for strategic analyses.
Do these FP&A issues ring a bell?
They should, if your planning processes are largely manual and mostly spreadsheet based, and don’t lend themselves to collaboration or version control.
An over-reliance on spreadsheets and legacy on-premises applications constrains the organization with rigid, siloed planning. These legacy planning environments are inflexible and brittle, prevent collaboration, and fail to deliver insights that drive decision-making.
Often, finance leaders are not even aware of how manual processes such as the gathering and consolidating of data, cumbersome email-based communication, and complex report creation put a strain on finance resources—a strain that keeps the finance team locked in low-value tasks. And while markets, revenue targets, and costs constantly move, old-world planning processes hinder related planning and reporting and slows decision-making to a crawl. Leaders either don’t have numbers they trust or don’t have the insights needed for agile decision-making.
Create value in all corners of the organization
Opportunities to grow are exceedingly challenging in a highly competitive and increasingly global environment. CFO research surveys typically characterize their corporate innovation efforts as highly successful. The success rate is low because getting the people, processes, and data all moving in the same direction can be difficult. To create value in all corners of the organization—sales, marketing, operations, and HR—everyone needs to fully engage with the planning process.
A siloed, spreadsheet-based approach leaves operational leaders in the dark and keeps business planning out of sight. Stakeholders don’t know where they are falling short; they can’t manage what they can’t see. While traditional planning functions on a rigid schedule (e.g., monthly), business operations are incredibly fluid. No business leader should be forced to wait until the month-end report is generated to make a decision. A finance team’s inability to provide insights in a timely manner hampers decision-making across the organization.
It’s no wonder that forward-thinking organizations are opening their eyes to a more effective and efficient way to plan—modern planning. Companies that adopt a modern planning process are better prepared to identify and take advantage of growth opportunities and operate more efficiently. Modern planning is collaborative, so you can plan as a team, and it’s continuous, so you can rapidly adapt to change.
Fostering a culture of planning
Instead of complex legacy applications and hordes of spreadsheets strewn across the organization, competitive organizations leverage cloud-based planning solutions to respond proactively to an ever-changing marketplace. Enterprise performance management solutions that integrate planning with source ERP, CRM, HR, and payroll systems offer a single version of the truth that fosters a culture of planning built on trust and real-time data.
Forward-thinking finance organizations recognize that planning will no longer suffice in a real-time, data-centric environment. The days of building elaborate spreadsheets to forecast the business trajectory—only to put them away until the next planning cycle—are fading quickly, at least at companies that want to remain competitive. A new modern planning model is emerging, centered around cloud-based tools to build accurate planning models faster, reduce errors, foster collaboration, and drive better decision-making. As stakeholders are more involved in the planning process, they’re gaining greater trust in the data. Leading finance organizations are using modern planning to:
- Free up finance time and capacity
- Improve the accuracy and integrity of finance and accounting data, plans, and reports
- Accelerate cycle times for critical finance processes like month-end close, operational reporting, planning, and what-if analysis
- Enhance collaboration with business stakeholders
In short, these finance organizations are leading with insights to drive business decisions and, in the process, elevating the role of finance to be more strategic.
Change starts at the top
Modern planning requires a cultural shift, but the rewards make it worth the effort. It can be difficult to get people to move from the comfort of their familiar spreadsheets to cloud-based collaborative planning tools, and the change has to start at the top.
The key to successfully transitioning to a modern planning model is thoughtful change management, wherein all parties understand the value of centralized planning tools and how they can contribute. When everyone takes ownership and knows how they are expected to add value, innovative planning, analytics, and performance measurement engage more people—including sales, marketing, operations, and HR—in the process of planning, moving away from the old, static models of the past.
The true payoff of modern planning is realized when everyone is working together on a continuously updated plan that incorporates fresh, valuable, and trusted data.
Tomorrow’s winners will be the most agile
In summary, modern planning means business agility. And business agility means organizations like yours can think fast, move first, and change rapidly, while maintaining control and stability. It means you can understand not only what’s going on but also how you could respond and what effect your actions would have.
It enables you to meaningfully digest the new volume, variety, and velocity of data by capturing it all in a single, intuitive, integrated environment, and surfacing the critical information you need to make decisions.
It brings your whole business together by broadening participation in planning and strategy to improve both day-to-day operations and your understanding of the overall dynamics of your business.
It’s continuous and company-wide, supported by a platform that’s easy-to-use, fast, and powerful. That makes it easier to model complex scenarios, link together operational and financial plans, monitor executional results, analyze past and current performance, and drill down into (or roll-up) fine-grain reporting from any area of the business.
The world isn’t going to slow down, and markets aren’t going to get less competitive. In the long-term (and probably before then) business agility isn’t going to be just a nice-to- have, or even a significant differentiator.
It’s going to be the deciding factor between the businesses that survive, and the businesses that wish they had.