Business Process Management (BPM)

Connectivity and Collaboration - Essential for Business and Project Planning

Whether it’s at the start of a financial year or quarter, or ahead of a major business project, companies regularly require the strategic alignment of individual teams within an organisation in order to set out budgets, plans, forecasts and models for the period ahead.  The very nature of connected, global businesses today often sees a CFO in London striving to collaborate with operations and sales teams around the world.  However, as the volume of data that has to be collected, analysed and consolidated to enable effective business collaboration increases, traditional on-premise enterprise technologies used for business planning and consolidation are not providing organisations with the agility and flexibility needed to suit all department and end-user requirements.    

As these traditional planning tools are not only expensive to maintain, but also lack the processing power to cope with today’s volumes of data, individual users often resort to Excel.  While Excel is a great personal productivity tool, it has significant limitations when teams try to use it as an enterprise-wide solution.   Excel cannot give business decision makers the capabilities to work in a truly connected way and due to the nature of individuals and separate teams working on locally saved spreadsheets, data can very quickly become out of date as teams lose sight of how changes they make impact other departments.

High profile projects – over time and over budget

The recent reports on the abandoned BBC Digital Media Initiative have raised some interesting questions on this topic.  The initiative was set out to record all BBC footage digitally rather than using video, however it was scrapped following five years of missed deadlines and an alleged £98.4 million in wasted funds.  While there are some uncertainties regarding the details of the financing of this project, the fact that deadlines were consistently missed and the project ultimately had to be cancelled all together suggests that there weren’t the right processes in place from the outset to deal with inevitable unforeseen circumstances and plan changes.

The first step in projects of this scale is to implement solutions that will allow finance and operations teams to build models and test scenarios before choosing the right plan.  By moving this process to the cloud, businesses can truly establish a ‘connected enterprise’.  As a result, all stakeholders can have access to up-to-date information so that they can all work from the same page, rather than attempting to work on disconnected spreadsheets which can lead to business silos being created that are hard to break down.

Regardless of the type of project being planned, or if businesses are undertaking planning for the financial period ahead, by working on one connected platform, finance departments – which normally operate on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis – can be connected with operational departments – which typically work on a weekly or even daily basis when it comes to planning.  This is important for a number of divisions across the enterprise, whether it’s connecting with sales to ensure finance teams have consistently up-to-date sales forecast information, or with marketing to analyse and plan digital spend, or with HR to ensure workforce planning matches up with overall objectives. 

Shifting goal posts

The rate of business change and complexity these days is higher than ever before.  As such, businesses need to be extremely agile and have the right tools in place to help them respond instantly to the inevitable changes that occur.  It’s essential that organisations have the ability to easily alter and re-calculate plans and models when any unforeseen changes to plans need to be made.  There is a need for each team that is involved to have access to real-time data from multiple sources, so that they can easily analyse predictions against actual business progress.  A truly connected enterprise encourages effective collaboration as an essential part of business planning, so that all those involved can see how project and process changes can affect the rest of business operations.

All too often with major initiatives, such as the BBC Digital Media Initiative, we read headlines of projects consistently running over time and over budget.  While unforeseen changes are almost inevitable, decision makers need to set themselves up with the best solutions from the offset to help them adapt plans and keep all stakeholders up-to-date with any changes that are made.  While making one small amend to data on Excel can take hours to filter those modifications across all other departments, often leading to inaccuracies, by working on a connected platform, changes can be made across the entire data set accurately and instantly.  As a result, less time is wasted on number crunching, and more time can be spent on successful project and plan implementation.


Ian Stone is UK Managing Director at Anaplan


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Ian Stone

Ian Stone is UK Managing Director at Anaplan

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