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Transforming finance-focused planning for 2021

by Mike Jones in Other Cat 20/01/2021

Finance transformation may not necessarily have to be a response to disruption. There are examples of finance teams implementing changes to their team, processes and technology to deliver a more effective approach towards business planning. They have focused their efforts on implementing data solutions and transitioning from a finance-based approach to planning and reports to a more innovative and intelligent process. These businesses were ahead of the game and had recognised the importance and value of implementing these systems before the disruptive events of the last year.


Disruption can, however, accelerate change and is why, as we move into 2021, we are experiencing a higher rate of businesses adopting transformation within the finance-based plans. Whether or not a business has recognised the benefits of transferring to an integrated multi-functional planning system, and possibly initiated some measures to drive this, the changes in the industry and continued uncertainties of the last year drove plans forward, and as a result, prioritised transformation for 2021.

What is needed to enable a long last and successful planning move?

Businesses adapting and moving towards a more holistic planning model recognise what needs to be done to grow and remain resilient to changes. They understand that innovative businesses utilise predictive and forecasting technology to monitor the latest trends in their organisation and the wider industry. They embrace analytical tools within their planning procedures, allowing them to measure what is going on, and more importantly, why. By combining their overall strategy, operational and financial plans, they can extend the impact of performance management and increase profitability by applying their focus on what works best.
The most effective planning transformation measures tend to have several things in common:

They are initiated with the best level of support

Transformation requires support and momentum to develop and expand plans further. This is why the most successful planning systems begin with a senior-level leader promoting the necessity for change, supporting this and ensuring the business remains focused on this goal. The success of business change depends on collaboration, ensuring a business is working together to enable strategic development.

A focused and strategic approach

Transformation is a challenge and time consuming, and so implementing a staggered approach to planning is optimum. Whether you are striving for an ongoing planning system or regular interval plan, it’s complicated to achieve this without a staged plan. Businesses need to consider where you intend to go, the measures you need to put in place to get there and then focus on developing an approach that will enable you to achieve these goals.

Adopt and utilise technology

The progression in technology means the skills and time required to transform planning systems have reduced. Intelligent data streams are widely available, and BI reporting tools have excelled enabling businesses to perform detailed and more insightful analysis. None of this will be possible, however, if business continues to rely on traditional legacy systems or spreadsheets. Predictive analytics, AI and Machine Learning can deliver vital insights and alleviate time spent on forecasting, but only when a business has the necessary foundation of technology and data in place.

Transitioning from finance-led planning to a more integrated approach that combines operational planning and reporting will drive further agility and resilience needed in a business to remain on track towards achieving your goals and being prepared for potential disruptions that lie ahead.