Ismail El Kadiri, Business Planning and Analysis Lead Consultant, Logicalis UK, looks at three areas of business CxOs should consider prioritising after finance, to leverage the benefits of planning analytics and business intelligence (BI).
Over the past decade, numerous planning and analytics solutions have surfaced in an effort to catch up with an increasingly complex business environment. These solutions compete on speed, scalability, visualisation capabilities, scenario modelling and excel integration.
The Logicalis Global CIO survey revealed that analytics is still considered ‘very important’ or ‘critical’ for driving innovation and decision-making across the business.
Traditionally though, planning tools have been aimed at the finance department. Budgeting and forecasting, P&Ls, balance sheets and cash flows have been the bread and butter of planning and reporting solutions. However, this only scratches the surface of what can be achieved in the business planning arena.
We are in an era when a truly successful planning practice is not solely based upon finance-focused analytics, but also includes customer, sales performance and workforce analytics.
Planning and analytics for the whole business
Although Finance is usually the right strategic area to begin implementing any planning solution, it should just be a starting point.
A truly successful planning solution should incorporate operational planning, giving a more accurate and all-encompassing view of the business.
Almost all business functions can benefit from agile planning processes and data analytics with payroll, sales and asset management at the top of the list.
Payroll analytics to do the heavy lifting
Payroll planning can be very complex and it’s a manual task for most organisations.
Human Resources (HR) staff responsible for payroll face multiple components that influence the complexity of the payroll process. These include NI adjustments, complex bonus schemes, commission calculations, salary increases and benefits.
Add in to the mix ongoing government changes, regulatory updates and HR related modifications and payroll can prove to be a stressful and time-consuming process.
The most effective way to move from this manual process to increased speed and accuracy of payroll planning is through the data. By taking advantage of analytics capabilities, businesses can create timely and reliable payroll plans to put employee and business insight into action.
Businesses can benefit from faster processes, a uniform view of data and simplified analytical processes that HR staff just do not have the bandwidth to achieve.
More accurate sales forecasting with planning analytics
For most organisations, sales planning and forecasting is the life-blood of the sales department – it directs the efforts of each department and helps define the overall strategy. Therefore, it is crucial to set realistic and accurate targets based on existing data.
With agile planning and analytics, businesses today can forecast sales volumes and adjust cost and price centrally to see the bottom line impact of the sales department.
This is the ideal area to take advantage of seasonality forecasting, “what if” scenario modelling and phasing. This results in successfully steering sales activities, maintaining margins and delivering value, both to the client and the business.
Retailers are doing this successfully by adjusting tactics according the need to generate profit (at the beginning of a fashion season) or volume (when there is a need to clear out stock). When to adopt each tactic is dictated by historical data and getting the timing right is crucial.
Asset Management simplified through planning analytics
Often the biggest hurdle that companies face when managing their assets is the volume of data that needs to be collected, analysed and maintained.
Increasing cost pressure, complex structures in supply chains and rising risks due to complex procurement mechanisms are just part of the challenge for modern businesses.
Effective and flexible networking of data is crucial in order to make fast and accurate decisions. With advanced planning and analytics, organisations can apply profiles to the assets to plan for depreciation and asset control.
Taking a holistic approach to planning analytics and moving beyond finance will help CxOs take data-driven decisions for the entire business.