In our previous blog post, “The Path to Integrated Planning,” we discussed why support from senior management as well as business partners is so important for the implementation of integrated financial planning. In this post, we look at other requirements that will enable you to realize the full benefits of integrated planning, which influences the progress of your Digital Transformation journey.

Define “must-have” and “nice-to-have”

“What do you need?” does seem like a simple question. But when weighing the needs of your organization, it gets much more complex. Therefore, before getting entangled in high-tech presentations from different service providers, it is important to clarify what are the most important “must have” features and what would be “nice to have.”

Features, for example, are important, but ease of use is always more important. Modern, simple, scalable solutions are the best choice for ease of use: A tool with highly complex computational capabilities misses the mark entirely if your team doesn’t ever use 90% of the tool’s capacity. This is why circling back to “What do you really need?” is crucial when considering your company-specific requirements.

It is also essential to support team members in their daily tasks, because although there are challenges with spreadsheet-based planning, it is at still firmly anchored in finance.

“Finance, on the other hand, loses its autonomy when a company moves to an integrated planning solution that is too IT-intensive,” explains David Upton, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Jedox APAC. “Finance would then still be responsible for the budgeting process within the company but would no longer be able to manage this process independently because IT would no longer be able to keep up or external consultants would be required. So, what needs to be done is no less important than who does it. Can your finance team become both budget administrators and business users of the tool?”

The key is balance between the autonomy and flexibility that spreadsheets bring and the control and consistency of a modern planning solution with unrivalled flexibility.

Involve other departments early on

When implementation of a modern solution begins with finance, it provides the opportunity for them to become the experts. A quick start with key users supports efficiently building competency and capacity. Realistic goals can be set and achieved within short periods of time.

This is also where slow “new start” approaches pose significant obstacles and challenges. When the path to integrated planning takes six months or longer, team members can change, and you lose sight of the original goals. Efficient implementation of integrated planning should happen in several quick phases, which in turn supports greater progress on your Digital Transformation journey. As mentioned above, it starts with finance.

This is also where the difference between a planning solution and ERP becomes evident. An ERP system takes significant time and remains relatively unchanged because it maps everyday processes. Instead, the goal of an integrated planning solution is to better support overall performance of the company. Get better data and better insight to support better decisions. To keep pace with these changing business and compliance requirements, the flexibility of integrated planning is needed.

Transforming more than just your planning

When your organization is standardizing processes for the first time in some instances, being pragmatic can be helpful on the path to integrated planning. This means that “ready” is sometimes going to be better than “perfect” for the sake of keeping long term goals in sight and on track. But this doesn’t mean the needs of other departments such as HR, marketing, or sales shouldn’t be considered. The long-term vision for integrating planning requires your organization to embrace a holistic approach to integrated planning to also see the positive influence on your Digital Transformation journey.

To fully utilize the potential of integrated planning and the correlating influence on Digital Transformation, all relevant departments must be involved in the process. So instead of presenting a “done deal” that must be accepted by all, create a cross-functional team who can become solution experts, to guide the rest of your organization.

It is common in many organizations for departments to operate completely independently with regard to budget and actual. To encourage integrated planning, stakeholders must first be introduced to uniform methods and approaches.

This is why a structured, phased, and cross-departmental approach lends itself well to transforming more than just your planning. Build team competencies, drive the project forward, provide motivation with successful results, and continually improve for the future. All of which supports integrated planning paving the way to your organization advancing its Digital Transformation journey.

Learn more about how integrated planning influences Digital Transformation in our white paper, “How Integrated Planning Plays a Key Role in Digital Transformation.”