The challenges that companies are facing in current times are enormous. The high dynamics of change make it necessary for companies to adapt their processes to the new framework conditions. In this context, business planning in particular is becoming a critical discipline in the face of pandemics, crises, wars, skyrocketing energy prices and disrupted supply chains. To modernize business planning and position it for the future, an integrated approach is needed that does not focus exclusively on content or technology.
Business planning: a triad of processes, content and technologies
Business planning must become faster and more efficient in order to keep pace with the current change of times. This requires a paradigm shift: companies must not just rely on new, intelligent software to boost planning performance, but must also take other aspects into account. Innovative technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence are often seen as a panacea that will bring a new shine to business planning. However, they need the right strategic, process, organizational and content underpinnings to be effective. In other words: Contemporary business planning is characterized by the harmonious triad of processes, content and technologies.
The best time for optimization is now
Optimizing business planning is actually never completely finished. If a company changes its business model, it must also adapt its planning accordingly. Similarly, macroeconomic conditions can have a massive impact on business planning and require adjustments. In addition, controlling continuously strives to increase efficiency in the planning processes. After companies focused primarily on operational aspects during the Corona pandemic to ensure their own survival, now is the right time to rethink business planning and adapt it to the realities of the New Normal.
In agile business planning, less is more
In order to become faster and more flexible, agile approaches to planning are increasingly applied. Business planning must be able to react to changes at short notice. Therefore, modern planning should work with a few key figures on aggregated metrics to set the direction. During the year, companies can then rely more on forecasts and measures to actually achieve the aggregated key figures. Business planning is able to fulfill its management function even if its design does not extend to every last detail.
Reducing effort and increasing benefit
Usually, there are two main drivers for business planning projects: reducing the planning effort and increasing the planning value. Both goals can be achieved with the help of various measures. Possible starting points for reducing the effort are the use of delta planning, a high degree of automation in planning, different levels of detail in the planning sections, the integration of sub-planning, the use of innovative technologies and improved data management.
Business planning should provide the best possible support in achieving the company’s goals. For this reason, the topic of increasing value is often high on the agenda when it comes to planning projects. The use of simulations and scenarios, driver-based planning, top-down goal setting as an entry point to the planning process, the use of conceptual and technological best practices, increased value of data, and conscientious change management to anchor the changes in the company, among others, promise greater value.
Conclusion: Continuing to be a central control element
The decisive basis for every planning project is the target picture: A company needs a clear idea of where it wants to go in terms of planning. The planning approach must fit the management concept and the company’s business model. Furthermore, it is important to create transparency about the functions and departments in the planning process so that all employees involved develop a common understanding. Because one thing is certain: business planning remains a central control element, even in a volatile world characterized by a high rate of change. New ways of thinking and innovative technologies help to continuously develop planning.