The 4 Elements of a Perfect Planning Process

Wayne, PA, USA / Langenfeld, Germany – February 6, 2013  Planning can be the most dreaded activity or the most lauded, depending on how effectively the finance team manages it. But it is undoubtedly one of the most important exercises a company undergoes, as it lays out the future finance situation, which in turn should drive efficiency, improve performance, and unite everyone behind a common vision of success. As more companies around the globe deploy arcplan for budgeting, planning and forecasting, this international solution provider has compiled a list of best practices its customers follow to ensure planning perfection.

1) Automation
For many companies large and small, the planning process begins in Excel and involves a lot of manual data consolidation and time spent reconciling multiple versions of spreadsheets. This error-prone process is an incredible waste of time; planning in this way is inefficient and detracts from time that should be spent analyzing plans and working towards company goals. Automation is a better approach to aggregating plan data and has positive effects like improved consistency and time savings. A solution like arcplan Edge streamlines the consolidation process by simultaneously connecting to multiple data sources. This enables the system to act as a central repository with data entry and write-back functions, eliminating the reliance on spreadsheets by allowing planners to interact with live data in an Excel-like web interface. It also provides automated alerts based on user interaction, such as alerting managers when direct reports have completed a task in the budgeting workflow. Automation is hugely beneficial to the planning process because it enables timely completion of plans and diverts focus from the mechanics of the budgeting process to actual analysis.

2) Linkage to the corporate goals
A company's long-range strategic plan outlines the vision that leaders have for the organization, along with major goals and initiatives. The planning process details the operating plans to achieve those goals by identifying, prioritizing, and funding projects that align with corporate strategy. Department managers should create budgets that align with the organizational goals, ensuring that everyone focuses on the projects that drive performance. In a perfect planning process, the operating plan flows from the strategic plan – but this can be difficult to achieve without the visibility provided by a complete corporate performance management solution. arcplan Edge's built-in scorecard functionality enables everyone from planners to top management a way to easily connect corporate goals to planning information. A good budgeting and planning process should not just be a "to-do" at the end of the year, never to be viewed again. Rather, by supporting corporate strategy, a plan should serve as a point of reference throughout the year for everyone to make better operational decisions.

3) Rolling forecasts
Perfect planning is dynamic. A static plan with a 12-month forecast has little value as the year ticks by, threats emerge, and markets change. In order to stay agile, organizations should use rolling forecasts, long-term projections using "what-if" scenarios where a month is added to the end of the forecast for every month that goes by. These forecasts enable the finance team to have an accurate picture of future cash flow. They also alert everyone in the organization to threats and opportunities, giving them the flexibility to adapt quickly to a volatile business environment and make better decisions armed with insight into trends and other variables.

4) Analytics
Planning is not just about gathering data and formulating projections; the end result must be sound decisions based on analysis of planning vs. actual data. Therefore analysis capabilities are an integral part of any good planning tool. A solution like arcplan Edge takes planning to the level of corporate performance management (CPM) by embedding analytical functions, including standard reports, ad-hoc reporting, dashboards, and scorecards. Capabilities include easy P&L reports, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, as well as stoplight indicators for at-a-glance views of performance, variance reporting with "supporting details"/commentary capture, and export to Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF. Because arcplan Edge streamlines the planning process by as much as 60%, the finance team is left with built-in time for analysis.

A perfect planning process comes together when you select a solution that offers these four elements. In the end, the goal must be giving your planners more time to make strategic decisions that directly impact the company's bottom line.

About arcplan
arcplan is a leader in innovative Business Intelligence, Dashboard, Corporate Performance and Planning software solutions for desktop and mobile use.  Since 1993, arcplan has enabled more than 3,200 customers worldwide to leverage their existing infrastructure for better decision making. Empowering all users to connect and collaborate with relevant information is crucial for improving business performance. With arcplan – it simply works.

arcplan's flagship product arcplan Enterprise® was rated the #1 3rd party tool for SAP BW, Oracle Essbase, and IBM Cognos TM1 in The BI Survey 12 (2012).

Press Contacts

EMEA Contact
Markus Gißke
Marketing Manager

phone: +49 (02173) 1676 159
U.S. Contact 
Heather Smith
Director of Marketing
phone: +1 610 902 0688 x538