To successfully move from outdated spreadsheet workflows to using integrated financial planning, there are important considerations on this path. In our new two part blog series, we will discuss how the Office of Finance can embark on the path to successful integrated planning.

Ensure senior management support

Old structures in FP&A must be revamped to meet changing business needs. This is of course old news, yet many organizations are still struggling with doing the needed revamp. An estimated 30% of corporate IT spending is already located outside the IT team, which offers new possibilities and opportunities. What approach does your organization take?

“First, the appetite for change must be awakened within the organization,” explains David Upton, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Jedox APAC. “Senior management in particular must be won over to the idea, as this is the only way to initiate innovation at the corporate level. In principle, everyone has the same goals, but different departments may have a different approach to achieving them. Having the support of senior management can ensure that the company actually succeeds in implementing the change.”

Strategic goals are also important: “Your initiatives must increase profitability, enhance customer loyalty, save costs or improve compliance,” Upton says. For example, advanced data analysis can provide insight that reveal new opportunities, reducing workloads while also reducing the risk of error. However, these requirements can only be met when strategic goals have been clearly defined.

A business partner, not just a service provider

A service provider needs to be able to do more than just provide service to support your path to integrated planning. They must not only deliver technology, but also offer added value creation in innovation and best practice. After all, the solution should not only replace old technology with new but should also secure a long-term advantage for the organization.

Accordingly, IT should be strategically involved at an early stage. If your company already works in the cloud, then planning without the cloud is futile. If your company has a private cloud or internal databases, a local approach or a hybrid solution may be a better fit. Therefore, the provider must be able to react flexibly to your company’s requirements and plan together with you how existing systems will be integrated into the new solution, how data protection and data security will be ensured and how customization options and autonomy for your team will be built in.

A simple Request for Proposal (RFP) cannot address these issues, because it’s not just about what a product does, but also how it is delivered. Shortlisted providers should be able to clarify basic company-specific questions. Instead of focusing on just a software demonstration, check whether the solution meets the requirements of your company. Are they willing to setup a feasibility workshop with you?

A worthwhile investment of time and effort

Instead of simply building a solution for integrated planning, when your organization focuses on strategy and the path forward with a business partner and not just a service provider, it will pay off in the long term. Uncertainty comes in so many forms in business, and a defined path to integrated planning supports reducing those uncertainties.

This proof of value creation acts as a catalyst to engage other stakeholders in the business, because even if it is the Office of Finance that ultimately makes the decision, it is still important that other departments in the organization are convinced.

In our next blog post, “How Integrated Planning Influences Digital Transformation,” we’ll look at why it is important to define “nice to have” and “must have” requirements, involve other departments at an early stage, and what the influence of successful integrated planning on digital transformation.