Laying the Groundwork for Business Agility
As many companies recognized even before the current crisis, agility is a business imperative—and this more modern approach to planning is the key to achieving it. These three milestones will get you started on your journey to achieving an active planning model.
1. Assess the status quo.
Before you map out where you’re going, you need to understand where you are. Take inventory of the current state of your company,including looking at the business planning obstacles keeping you from implementing a more modern and streamlined planning environment. More than likely, these obstacles will pertain to people, processes, or technology, or some combination thereof.
Assessing where you are means getting granular.
What do your current business planning processes look like?
What technology do you have in place, and how well is it serving you?
What data challenges need attention?
Are there any opportunities for automated data integration?
What are you lacking in workforce planning?
Answering questions like these will help you get a clear sense of what you’re working with and where you can improve.
2. Get organizational alignment.
Being a change agent is no easy task. That’s why you’ll need to recruit a savvy senior-level advocate to help champion active planning as a worthy and necessary cause. Along with your senior advisor, you’ll need a task force representative of other departments outside of finance, including operations, sales, and HR. Don’t forget to include IT to help you navigate technology needs and coordinate various data sources.
The next move is to align these key people with the business agility cause you’re championing.
How? Build a business case.
You can do this by quantifying the impact that the organization’s current status quo has on the company. What are manual processes and bottlenecks costing your business in time and money? What opportunities are passing you by? Conversely, what would those measurement strategies and KPI models look like if you implemented an active planning model? Try to unearth more nuanced ROI measures—for instance, how cutting budget time in half could give your people more time to run critical what-if scenarios—to really drive home the meaningful change that a modern agility planning model would bring.
Once your team is in place and your pain points recognized and quantified, you can map out a plan for your initial project. Consider focusing your initial effort on a function within finance so you’ll have control over the rollout. Develop a multiphased plan that clearly communicates goals (both for implementing active planning and for this inaugural project), a concise and actionable plan, and the key metrics for your KPI model. The ability to effectively communicate the why behind this initiative will help secure any executive buy-in you need for the how. A comprehensive and well-thought out plan will go a long way toward achieving that.
3. Expand across the business.
As noted above, there’s a strong case for beginning the rollout of your active planning model in finance and focusing on low-hanging fruit to bring early and easy wins. Once a rhythm and familiarity are in place, broaden your scope beyond finance. Initiate planning projects that engage HR, sales, or marketing. This is where you begin to extend the use and impact of active planning company-wide.
The key in this phase is to strengthen cross-departmental communication and collaboration. Don’t fall into the trap of relying on your technology or tools to do the heavy lifting. It will be easier to realize and maintain success with regular stakeholder one-on-ones, identifying lessons learned along the way, uncovering opportunities for more ingenuity and improvement, and communicating success and congratulations when they’re warranted.
Doing this will help elevate the role of finance to a strategic force within your organization by orchestrating planning throughout the business. Finance will no longer be known primarily for gathering budget numbers and issuing reports. Instead, your business will look to finance to drive the change and innovation needed to not only weather times of uncertainty, but to thrive in them.
Map Your Way Forward
These three pillars lay the groundwork for creating a more agile planning environment—one that will help you plan for what’s coming, whatever that may be. But since it’s merely a foundation, you’ll want to build on it. Stay tuned for additional insights that can help you derive even greater value from your modern planning environment.
Because the only thing certain about the future is that it will reward business agility. With this foundation and the insights we’ll share in subsequent blogs, you’ll be much better equipped to map your way forward into that tomorrow.
Get all the insights in our latest white paper: “Practical Steps for Business Agility.”