intelligent financial planning

Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting

- 6 min read

Intelligent Financial Planning – The Difference

We live in a fast-paced and constantly evolving world. New challenges, such as inflation and global conflicts, have layered on top of existing disruptions, such as supply chain shocks and geo-political conflict. CXOs, board members, and business leaders across all industries agree on a common sentiment: this combination of disruptions has created the most challenging environment management teams have ever faced. 

The role of Finance

Finance teams are deeply involved in determining how businesses adapt to disruptive events. According to  Gartner, the Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) function plays a crucial role in determining an organization’s financial health and resilience by performing budgeting, forecasting, and analysis to support major business decisions. 

In uncertain times, FP&A is expected to enhance the Finance department’s ability to steer performance by effectively managing cash flow, making the best use of capital, and facilitating planning and controlling of budgets to ensure the organization’s strategic goals are accomplished.

FP&A must also be capable of orienting planning activities with agility to suit the needs and cycles of products and services provided by the organization.

Traditional FP&A no longer works

Despite the increased expectations, many FP&A organizations are still stuck in a rut, consolidating data and spreadsheets, following a predictable, calendar-based business rhythm, and relegating themselves to the basic provision of information. Amongst the many challenges that FP&A professionals are facing, five stand out as the most pressing: 

  1. Time and effort: Traditional planning relies on a rigid yearly calendar, and a single cascading annual, quarterly, and monthly planning cycle takes too long to complete. Activities are mainly manual, and most staff time is spent on non-value-added activities. 
  2. Spreadsheets and legacy systems: Excel spreadsheets are still widely used for data collection, plan submission, and performance reporting.
  3. Data & analytics: Enterprise data comes from multiple inconsistent and mostly internal sources. Multiple versions of the truth cause a lack of confidence from decision-makers. Reporting & analytics are focused on past performance.
  4. Misalignment of financial and operational processes: Financial and operational planning processes are often substantially disconnected, generated from different systems by different people, and with different objectives.
  5. Predictability: Planning doesn’t work beyond the span of predictability. Forecasts cannot account for unexpected events, and planners are incapable of evaluating the impact of risks and opportunities.

Transformation is proving harder than expected

Although Finance organizations are rethinking FP&A processes, tools, skills, and competencies to adapt to increasing expectations, not all initiatives involve the same level of maturity. Many enterprises misjudge the workload and are surprised by how quickly underlying problems can derail their best-laid plans. Typical challenges that hinder planning transformations include:

  • Lack of resources to drive change
  • Too many competing initiatives
  • Constantly evolving data strategy
  • Too many vendors
  • No clear value case 

These issues often compromise the transformational benefits, leaving companies stuck with locked-in costs, redundant non-value-added activities, and delays in decision-making.

The time has come for a more intelligent approach to planning transformation. One that enables next-level Finance teams to build speed and flexibility into their processes and trigger more efficient and effective decision-making throughout the enterprise.

Say hello to Intelligent Planning

Intelligent Planning enables frictionless planning transformation while removing the majority of the cost, effort & risks typically associated with digital initiatives.

Intelligent Planning brings any FP&A organization to a leading maturity state, repositioning the business for sustainable growth, establishing planning as a critical decision-making process, driving accountability and effectiveness, and leveraging Finance to lead the enterprise value creation.

Intelligent Planning extends beyond Finance

Intelligent Planning takes the best FP&A capabilities and extends them across the enterprise, eliminating the traditional barriers between Finance and Operations and aligning strategic, financial, and operational plans in real-time.

Intelligent Planning doesn’t just link operational plans to each other – it also links them to financial goals and strategic objectives. This helps CFOs and their teams forecast, monitor, and evaluate decisions holistically – and succeed in steering the business as a strategic advisor. 

The pillars of Intelligent Planning

As disruptions continue to reshape the business world, the challenge for Finance teams is to leverage technologies that set their businesses up for the future.

Intelligent Planning is built through extensible solutions incorporating transformed planning processes, industry best practices, and a closed-loop approach to decision-making.

Intelligent Solutions are built on the Board Intelligent Platform, which enables:

  • Integration and security:  Intelligent Planning unifies data collection in a single location and keeps business data safe through best-in-class security and compliance.
  • Process & automation: Intelligent Planning solves complex business problems at scale, keeping calculations and model performance consistent at any data volume and number of users.
  • AI/ML & analytics: Intelligent Planning helps turn complex inputs into actionable insights and drive more efficient decision-making across any use case.
  • Collaboration: Intelligent Planning enables seamless teamwork and efficient execution for large distributed multinational teams.
  • User experience: Intelligent Planning orchestrates flexible and agile planning and decision-making across the organization with business user-owned models and analyses that require zero coding knowledge.

Intelligent Planning enables Intelligent practices

As industries and business models are moving towards state-of-the-art technology and digital ways of working, Finance organizations must position themselves as key strategic partners to their business.

What can Finance teams do differently with the help of Intelligent Planning?

  • Planning by exception: Enterprises spend too much time planning at a time when data is rapidly expanding, and decisions need to be made faster. Planning shouldn’t happen on a rigid calendar but instead, react with agility to threats that cause disruption and opportunities that generate value.

Intelligent Planning helps Finance teams use events as drivers for business planning, modeling their potential impact—not just on finance but on all business functions.

  • Management by metrics: Organizations can move faster when decisions are delegated, but performance must be managed in sync with organizational objectives.

Intelligent Planning ensures targets and performance metrics are visible to all decision-makers, informing plans with accurate information and visibility to assumptions while setting healthy performance expectations.

  • Focus on value levers:  When organizations focus on the levers that drive value creation, they can devise, communicate, and prioritize strategies that deliver impact.

Intelligent Planning helps leaders understand where they can add real value and make the most significant impact on their business, creating a closed loop of continuous sensing and iteration that maximizes growth and profitability.

  • Autonomous & asynchronous: In a continuous and distributed environment, planning must accommodate the need for teams to make decisions and take actions outside of a formal waterfall process.

Intelligent Planning allows each function in the business to plan and execute at its natural speed while enabling cross-functional collaboration and alignment to strategic objectives.

  • Continuous alignment: Planning assumptions and scenarios constantly change as the environment changes and decisions are taken. Planning must happen in real-time to support decision-makers with the latest insights to drive superior outcomes.

Intelligent Planning empowers teams to continuously collect new insights and pivot from multidimensional scenarios to profitable execution, gauging the financial implication of every action to identify the ideal plan.

Conclusion

One thing for certain in an ever-unpredictable market: finance teams need to be at the top of their FP&A maturity game. Traditional FP&A approaches are no longer sufficient to drive enterprise performance or meet business expectations. Only Intelligent Planning can empower finance leaders to drive the enterprise forward through a holistic approach to decision-making. By bringing finance, strategy, and operations together, FP&A teams have the greatest chance of driving outcomes business-wide. In a challenging trading environment, it is this seamless collaboration that will make the difference between surviving and thriving.

Learn more

How intelligent is your FP&A? Take a deep dive into our FP&A Maturity Model, developed in collaboration with FP&A Trends, to benchmark your FP&A against industry best practices and peers and discover how to take it to the next level.

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