It all begins with a plan. Whether it’s the overall strategic plan or a detailed operational plan, this step is usually part of the overall enterprise performance management strategy, which encompasses financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting. Planning is in a unique position compared to the other analytics groups because it relies on outputs of all the other steps.
Even today spreadsheets remain one of the most popular tools used by enterprises for planning. However spreadsheets are not the issue; they still remain the go-to application of business planning software - affordable, universal, and simple to use. The real problem stems from disconnected, siloed, and ungoverned spreadsheets that do not foster efficient planning processes, and cannot scale effectively within large organizations.
We all recognize the value of spreadsheets, but enterprise-grade planning requires connected tools - collecting data, preparing data, analyzing data, and creating visualizations to deliver data analytics to provide insight to key decision makers. The functions that these tools provide fall into four basic categories:
- Collect and prepare data: Teams collect various data sets to build budgets and forecasts. Data is then consolidated and prepared to provide an accurate assessment of the current state of the organization.
- Analyze data: Based on factual data, planners build a variety of models, including variance models and rolling forecasts to allow the organization to adapt quickly to changing business environments and conditions.
- Deliver analytics: Reports and dashboards are created and published for executives and key decision makers based on the analysis of the data and governance policies. Decision makers can view the data visualizations and adjust their decisions to improve business outcomes.
- Adjust models: Planners adjust their models based on variance reports that help improve the accuracy of forecasts. This planning cycle is usually conducted periodically but for organizations with more advanced capabilities, continuous planning is deployed via rolling forecasts and plans are adjusted on-the-go.
Download the infographic to learn more about the causes and consequences of spreadsheet errors and how IBM Planning Analytics can help mitigate these hazards in your planning process.
Enterprises are most successful when planning is flowing, continuous, and collaborative — and when users work in hand-in-hand with financial analysts and planners throughout the entire planning cycle to improve enterprise operations and decision making. These needs cannot be met by individual manual processes solely reliant on spreadsheets, which is why planning analytics solutions are a key part of ensuring timely and accurate decisions are made with the best and most accurate data.
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Chakravarty, Arnab. "How IBM Planning Analytics helps you create a stronger business plan" Softchoice, 19 June. 2018, https://www.softchoice.com/blogs/advisor/enterprise-software/how-ibm-planning-analytics-helps-you-create-a-stronger-business-plan