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Planning activities have expanded into an integrated operational and financial planning exercise embracing the entire organization.
Our experience has proved that financial planning often suffers from lack of integration in changing environment and the tools that link the process are inadequate.
Management planning is too often just an exercise of aggregating bottom-up figures instead of real-time integrated scenario planning that empowers strategic decisions.
FROM DISJOINTED TO ORCHESTRATED FINANCIAL PLANNING – THE AWARENESS PATH
Organizations largely utilize Excel for financial planning purposes.
Depending on the degree of business process integration, we have identified 3 level of Planning:
1. DISJOINTED PLANNING
Several studies indicate that two-thirds of Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are running their business on their own feeling.
Often the SMEs say that planning is an activity that only structured business with administration departments can afford.
The planning activity thus results in a sporadically and disjointed exercise.
2. ORGANIZATIONAL PLANNING
At this level, the organization recognizes the importance of knowledge of business processes and planning activity.
Although embarking in periodic exercise, the organization struggles to identify and utilize adequate tools to manage planning activity effectively.
Once this status is clear to the management, the organization is ready to lift to the third level on the awareness path.
3. INTEGRATED ORGANIZATIONAL PLANNING
For Organizations that manage integrated organization planning, the business processes are identified and adequately formalized.
The importance of integrated planning is clear and embedded in the organization culture.
Management planning activity is supported by tools that give a crystal-clear view of both single and integrated business processes.
Top management meetings are more effective, organization’s business actions are aligned to strategic decisions and alternative scenarios analysis is executed and adopted throughout all the organization.
Integrated flexible and easy to use tools are fundamental part of the path to success.
THE BOTTOM-UP AGGREGATION VALUE EXERCISE AS FOUNDATION FOR INTEGRATED FINANCIAL PLANNING
If management planning is just an exercise of aggregating bottom-up figures the planning activity results as mechanical and does give poor added value.
Vice versa, if bottom-up exercise is instrumental for integrated financial planning and is supported by a tool that also allows the top-down analysis, alternative scenarios can be depicted that enables to align the activities of the organization with management strategy.
In such a tool, the degree of integration together with bottom-up and top-down analysis are balanced and lead to a realistic plan which, in turn, ensures focus on any potential gap in business execution compared to strategic goals.
This application must be flexible to accommodate different organizations, easy to use and should give the management quick indications especially during long and demanding meetings.
This approach allows organizations to prepare budget or forecast with more than one economic scenario in scope.
The scenario testing idea is not new, yet few organisations actually execute it.
Only 10 percent of the organizations surveyed in research we conducted said they simulated alternative scenarios on a regular basis.
Finance organizations often feel a sense of accomplishment in completing “the budget” or “the forecast” without realizing they have focused all their attention on one potential scenario.
Here 6 best practices in planning that are relevant to medium and big organisations:
1. To give effective indication a plan needs to be unbiased and flexible (What-if) to represent the different level of enterprise risk that management is willing to accept.
2. Quality Planning in its easiest form would simply eliminate prejudice and reduce variance to a justifiable variation range. To minimize prejudice, it is advisable to ask for external independent advice during the planning exercise.
3. Ensuring clear understanding of the Planning Process and Cycle throughout the entire organization gives proper guidelines of stakeholder’s expectation in terms of value drivers (revenues, costs and cash flow).
4. To avoid loss of accuracy as the time progresses, financial managers need to re-evaluate periodically their planning model and implement revision.
5. How critical to plan the future is the past? Significant system changes, new products and services, new competitors and so on, reduce similarities between past and future. Recent changes are unlikely to modify the trend in the short term, but their effects are likely to increase over the long term.
6. Forecasting of large inter-related items is more accurate than forecasting a specific itemized amount. When a large group of items are forecasted together, errors within the group tend to reduce. For example, an overall economic forecast will be more accurate than an industry specific forecast.
OUR INNOVATIVE EXCEL/VBA SOLUTION FOR ENTERPRISE INTEGRATED FINANCIAL PLANNING (EIFP)
We, at Crown Consultancy Services, know that it is possible to develop an Excel application with the highest degree of security , data consistency and reliability to elevate Excel to the rank of professional EIFP application .
For this reason, we designed, developed and market ProfitQube™ – the first and the only EIFP software – that brings together the ease of use of Excel , the power of VBA language and the end-to-end business process simulation for manufacturing , trade and services companies within one modelling environment.
ProfitQube™ is a simulation software tool that provides Excel interface for modelling complex integrated financial projections producing IFRS Financial Statements with Charts, KPIs, Ratios and more.
ProfitQube’s mission is to enable SMEs , Large Organizations and Financial Professionals to manage budgets , forecasts and plans for critical decisions .
New Product – ProfitQube Consolidation is now available.
ProfitQube Consolidation is a management accounting add-on of ProfitQube which enables the consolidation of Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow (Direct and Indirect).
The consolidation process is aimed both for corporate internal control, plan, budget or forecast and for evaluating strategic investments and joint ventures .
Crown Consultancy Services Company is a leading provider of EIFP financial simulation software.