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5 Key Criteria for Successful Business Planning

by Nicole D'Angelo, SAPinsider Assistant Editor

February 9, 2017

Business is changing, and this isn’t news to anyone. From managing larger data loads to enabling faster supply chains, companies across industries are developing new ways of doing things ― ways that are faster, smarter, and more agile. To support these changes, organizations need to update their business planning and financial consolidation processes, yet many organizations continue to use the same static processes that have powered those business functions for decades.

While it can be difficult to alter processes that underlie how an organization operates, it is critical to adapt these processes to modern needs precisely because they form the foundation of the enterprise. If you don’t, you risk slowing your business and falling behind competitors. To keep up in the digital age, your business planning and financial consolidation processes must be able to function in five key ways.

1. Respond rapidly to changing business conditions

The business landscape is always evolving, but the rate of change today has reached a fever pitch. Businesses must be able to move quickly, both in terms of everyday accounting activities and in terms of strategic budging, forecasting, and planning capabilities. Financial closes need to happen rapidly, and business forecasting tools must be able to process new information in real time to produce strategic insights that will take the organization ahead of the competition.

2. Harness increasing data volumes

Organizations are dealing with more data than ever before, and a key marker of success in today’s economy is how well a company harnesses that data. When it comes to business planning, that means leveraging your enterprise’s data to create more accurate budgets, real-time forecasts, and consolidated sources of truth. It also means that the software you use for financial transactions needs to be robust enough to manage growing amounts of financial data.

3. Ensure compliance with regulatory and audit requirements

A growing number of regulations and more stringent audit requirements can mean increased compliance risks. To minimize this risk, finance departments need to be both faster and more accurate in financial closing and reporting. This means upgrading the financial consolidation process to enable efficient reporting that leaves a complete, clear audit trail.

4. Enable self-service and mobile applications

End-user expectations have changed significantly. Today’s end users expect a consumer-grade experience from their business applications, including sophisticated interfaces and the ability to complete tasks on their own rather than wait for IT to do it. By leveraging self-service applications and applications that support HTML5 and mobile interfaces, organizations can bring greater efficiency, productivity, and end-user input to the business planning process.

5. Stay ahead of the curve with financial intelligence

Traditional budgeting, planning, and forecasting processes simply aren’t robust or agile enough to meet business needs in a digital economy. Instead of historical analysis, businesses need predictive insights. Financial intelligence is critical, and organizations that leverage tools that provide real-time forecast models, what-if scenarios, and faster planning cycles will be well positioned for success ― both today and in the future.


Does your organization offer something unique to those who wish to improve their business planning processes? Do you have experience helping to develop critical business planning strategies or implementing SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation? Consider contributing your insights to the next issue of SAPinsider, to be distributed at SAPPHIRE NOW in May 2017.

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