If you’re not thinking of planning as a strategic advantage for your business, then you’re not viewing it in the right light. Because more and more, business planning needs to be comprehensive, accurate, and insightful. The quality of your business planning is so vital that it can spell the difference between success and failure.
Planning is more—much more—than just setting targets, establishing budgets, and forecasting expenses. Planning is the transition between strategy and execution. If your strategy lays out your business objectives, it’s your plan that works out exactly how you’ll get there. It shows you what to do and when, and who will be responsible for which elements.
Planning is where you decide how you will operationalize your strategy. Where you determine the investments you’ll make and calculate the return you expect. Where you pinpoint which data will drive your decisions. Where you figure out how you’ll measure your progress and how you’ll recognize success when you see it.
Planning is crucial on a strategic level because it’s central to running your business. But it shouldn’t be reserved for just a handful of C-suite execs or financial analysts. In business, everybody plans. So planning should be easy for everybody.
World-class planning involves people closest to the business
Unfortunately, that’s not how it is for most organizations. Even as more businesses and nonprofits adopt modern, cloud-based planning solutions, most are still stuck with tools that are too hard for most people to use and that impose processes that are too slow to keep up with the speed of business. Spreadsheets and legacy planning software are too manual, too siloed, and frankly just too static for planning to be seen as an advantage, let alone a strategic one. If anything, those static planning processes are an albatross that hold a business back.
This is changing. Every day, innovators in organizations of all sizes understand planning is more than just numbers on a spreadsheet. They share our vision for modern business planning: a user-friendly environment where real-world data drives decisions and where finance—the natural home for performance data of all kinds—orchestrates planning across the enterprise.
New generation of business planning
This is what a new generation of business planning looks like, and it’s what we’ve built into the Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud. It fuels decisions based on insight, not gut instinct. It gives managers a holistic view of the business. It lets them make better decisions sooner, so they can grow and thrive.
That’s the potential modern business planning holds for every organization. It takes a powerful, always-on, easy-to-use environment like that to turn business planning into a strategic advantage.
Say, for instance, your objective is to move into a vertical market where today you have very little presence, but the few customers you have in that market are happy and successful. A couple of those customers are known brands in their industry. Your strategy is to spotlight those customers, making them representative of the kind of success their industry peers can achieve if only they sign with you. You plan to elevate your market presence by establishing relationships with channel partners who are respected by the decision-makers and influencers within your prospect organizations.
Those are broad brushes. But a comprehensive plan—that bridge between strategy and execution—involves details. A lot of them. Imagine all those moving parts that ripple across your business: new sales headcounts, an expanded partnership program, additional service and support resources, new relationships with market analysts and press, new demand generation and content marketing assets, and training for virtually everyone on that list. There will be sales and marketing targets to meet, trends to analyze, and opex forecasts to build and verify.
Now imagine trying to orchestrate all that on a spreadsheet. Imagine “collaborating” by trading revisions via email and chasing down data to manually enter it in the evening, after you put your kids to bed. Imagine how a change in one aspect of your plan affects dozens of others and what that does to your plan and your schedule. Imagine trying to glean the big picture from an ocean of cells.
This is what modern business planning solves. And at the very moment when businesses must operate with agility, the widespread use of this new way of planning has arrived. Because now more than ever, planning itself is the strategic advantage businesses have been waiting for.