Why Your Business Needs a Connected Enterprise Planning Solution
By Jennifer Toomey
Since the pandemic kicked the speed of business forecasting and decision making into overdrive, replanning and forecasting have become an everyday necessity. Relying on siloed departments to create siloed plans isn’t good enough anymore. C-suite leaders need insight into holistic plans and forecasts across the business.
This is where connected planning comes in. Connecting your financial, operational, and line-of-business planning brings together discrete planning processes so you can plan across your entire organization. It uses advanced technologies, like data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning (ML), to improve forecast accuracy and predict changes. And it connects directly to actuals and operations so you see how well you’re performing and adjust the plan as targets move.
With this coordinated view, your teams can continuously plan and forecast whenever they need to using current data instead of during a scheduled interval with historical data. You can adjust your plan as soon as business input or factors change or after modeling potential outcomes with a scenario-planning solution. And rather than being limited to reviewing, for example, three scenarios for the future state, your teams could look at 10 in much less time.
Lululemon moves swiftly with scenario planning
An example of the value of connected planning comes from lululemon, a Canadian fitness apparel brand. Lululemon uses Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) to perform its annual strategic plan, looking out 12, 24, and 36 months.
During the pandemic, lululemon pivoted to its online business to offer customers an experience similar to an in-store experience, with opportunities for education and discussion about the physical aspects of healthy living. Oracle Cloud EPM helped the company model different scenarios rapidly so it could quickly spin up these enhanced experiences in digital channels.
As the lululemon case shows, organizations can be much more agile with connected planning. Siloed line-of-business planning might have worked in the past, but this practice is simply too slow and brittle to keep pace with change today.
Put CFOs at the front of connected enterprise planning
In some ways, CFOs have been preparing to take the lead on connected planning for a while. They’ve evolved from chief bookkeepers to valuable guides for business strategy. Finance teams already collaborate with people and data from across the enterprise, such as sales and operations, human resources, supply chain, and other lines of business. Finance often has the analytical skill sets and business knowledge to give these teams key insights and help them with planning and strategic decisions.
In addition to data and inputs from lines of business, external data is part of that context—for example, customer sentiment, weather data, and consumer trends. Incorporating data science can help improve the accuracy of plans and forecasts. It can also move you closer to a continuous, touchless forecasting process, helping your finance team become true change agents in the business.
Connect, align, and outperform
Connected enterprise planning includes a number of key processes: scenario modeling, sales and marketing planning, workforce planning, project financial planning, and integrated business planning and execution (IBPX). Adopting a truly connected enterprise planning solution allows the business to make critical decisions faster and gain the agility to outperform.
Jennifer Toomey is VP–EPM product marketing at Oracle.