Is Now the Time to Move to a Cloud Planning Platform?

Combat analysis paralysis by first assessing your current planning tools and then imagining an ideal partnership.

Momentum toward the cloud seems all but unstoppable: In a 2023 PwC survey, 78% of executives said their companies had adopted cloud in most or all of the business. And though spreadsheets are still common among financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams, their usage is on the decline, according to Deloitte’s latest global planning survey. Only 30% of organizations rely only on spreadsheets to prepare plans, budgets, and forecasts, and for companies with revenue north of $1 billion, that drops to just 9%. Given the greater agility, richer analytics, and more accurate financial forecasts that cloud-based planning offers—and the paramount importance of both in today’s rapidly changing business environment—the trend is only expected to accelerate.

Still, there’s a big difference between recognizing a move to the cloud would likely be beneficial and knowing exactly when your organization should make that move. And, for many, the distance between the current status quo and a potential future state can seem daunting—a journey only undertaken when the frustrations and limitations of static planning push FP&A teams past their breaking point. For others, who jump straight into researching specific solutions, the risk of analysis paralysis can delay their progress before it even starts. 

The good news: The same process that helps finance professionals determine when the time is right to move to a cloud planning platform can also help you navigate the solutions landscape with greater speed and confidence. 

The Best First Step: Look Inward

Before you can assess whether the cloud or a particular vendor will suit your needs, you have to know your needs. Take some time to catalog both the strengths and shortcomings of your current planning processes and tools. For those using spreadsheets, seeing #REF pop into a cell for the billionth time probably springs to mind as a clear shortcoming. Broken formulas are certainly maddening, and also open the aperture to consider areas where your system is technically working but still holding your team back. 

For example, are your current budgeting cycles able to keep pace with accelerating business demands? For the vast majority of finance professionals, the answer is probably no. Only 8% of FP&A teams say they complete the budget process in fewer than four weeks, according to the Association for Finance Professionals. Are you spending sufficient time on strategic activities? Again, if your answer is no, you’re not alone. FP&A spends, on average, only 25% of its time on value-added analysis, according to Bain & Company. Bucking that lackluster average requires first escaping the time-consuming slog of repetitive, tedious tasks at the heart of most planning tools. 

At Workday, we don’t spend a lot of time convincing finance teams about the limitations of their old-school systems and processes. Because the reality is that most already recognize there’s a widening chasm between their current planning capabilities and what the business demands. But too many stick with the status quo—limitations be damned!—because they’ve fallen victim to the myth that cloud planning platforms require complex data-science knowledge to fully use. But just as consumer devices are able to marry emerging tech with intuitive interfaces, the best planning platforms do the same. 

With Workday Adaptive Planning, you can let embedded artificial intelligence and machine learning do the heavy lifting, which yields incredible efficiency gains and frees up capacity for more meaningful work. Tools such as visualizations and dashboards radically democratize data analytics (including predictive analytics), with all of the rich, underlying data intact and available to those specialists who want to dig into the details. And because Workday is built with true cloud architecture and an intelligent data core, you never have to worry about running on an outdated version or using obsolete data. In addition, any changes you make as new opportunities arise propagate seamlessly throughout the system, and Workday’s built-in integration framework means you can connect to data from any enterprise relationship management, human capital management, or other transactional system without needing third-party tools.

At Workday, we don’t shy away from long-term, side-by-side partnership with our customers. In fact, we prefer it.

The Power of Partnership

Once you’re ready to move to the cloud, the next hurdle is picking a provider to make it happen. If assembling a lengthy list of vendors or setting up a bunch of generic sales calls sounds only slightly more fun than a root canal, take heart: Thinking through what you want and expect from a partner can easily clear the clutter from the competitive field.

Here, too, valuable insights spring from self-assessment. Can you confidently handle deployment and get up and running unguided? Or would you ideally want a partner that will work alongside you, to identify your goals and determine how and when to deploy particular features so you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment? Do you want help with ongoing accountability around your goals, or is your ideal vendor more of the don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you variety? Would you be thrilled at the chance to connect with peers for insights and lessons learned, or do you already have an abundance of internal expertise?

Choose Your Vendor Wisely

Whether you find you want a sell-it-and-forget-it vendor or a partner that’s as invested in your success as you are, there is no wrong outcome of a self-assessment. And once you turn your attention to evaluating prospective vendors, you’ll be well equipped to ask nitty-gritty details on how they partner with customers and to figure out if that fits with what you need. 

At Workday, we don’t shy away from long-term, side-by-side partnership with our customers. In fact, we prefer it. (And not for nothing: Our industry-leading 97% customer satisfaction rating suggests our customers like it too.) That sense of collaboration is present from the very start.

Your Success Is Our Priority

Rather than talk endlessly about our capabilities and overall successes, we prefer to engage one-on-one and learn about your specific business goals and challenges. We can then share targeted insights about what you might expect to achieve with Workday Adaptive Planning, along with documented use cases for companies of similar size and situation. 

That sense of partnership extends through and long after deployment—we don’t simply help you transition and hope for the best. In fact, a Workday success manager will dive deep into your business and take a benchmark assessment of your current planning. They’ll then help you prioritize feature adoption, address any issues, set goals—and hold you accountable to achieving them. After one to two years of partnership, a second assessment is performed and, thanks to our proprietary return-on-investment tool, you’re able to see exactly how much value you’ve realized across dimensions including time, efficiency gains, and cost savings.  

Real-World Results

With Workday Adaptive Planning, Canadian telecommunications giant TELUS decreased forecast variances to less than 1%. Alcoa, a top producer of bauxite and other materials needed to make aluminum, increased global demand planning efficiency by four times.

Outdated technology isn’t a mere frustration. In today’s accelerated business environment, those laggard tools pose a real danger—of wasted resources, of missed opportunities and unmitigated risks, of not being able to keep up as the competitive field shifts and surges ahead. Workday Adaptive Planning offers a powerful antidote: a dynamic cloud-native planning platform that delivers what you need to plan better today and continually adapt for the future. And because we believe our journey is your journey, you’ll be supported every step of the way.

More Reading