Intelligent, real-time forecasting can help businesses move from being reactive to proactive – Interview with Shanna Jardim

The global pandemic has heightened the need for businesses to budget and plan for various scenarios so that rather than being reactive, they’re on the pulse of changes in real-time and being proactive, says Insight Consulting Planning Specialist, Shanna Jardim. “There’s a definite need for the ability to perform quick and easy scenario planning, and integrated budgeting in real time across business divisions,” she says.

With planning being a non-negotiable in today’s world, Planalyze, the planning and forecasting division of Insight Consulting, was launched to fill this need. Having considered a number of different planning tools, Planalyze chose to partner with Corporate Planning from the CP Suite, an all-in-one planning, cost management and consolidation platform built on user-friendly templates that make adding value quicker across a range of complex planning use cases.

Planning in many businesses is a time-consuming and often manual process. Even where there are automated processes for capturing plans and budgets into systems, the process of aligning and integrating budgets across different business divisions is labour intensive. Corporate Planning allows for top-down or bottom-up planning and updating totals in real-time to show the impact of divisional plans on overall organisational plans. This develops a keen sense of accountability but also greatly assists consolidation across the organisation.

Referring to the power of effective planning, Jardim gives an example of how Planalyze used these strengths to help a production and distribution enterprise with a problem they were facing – most of the business’s cash was tied up in raw materials.

“They did not have full visibility of their cash flow and so we helped them follow a bottom-up planning approach with the software, where we got the individual subsidiaries to plan their own budgets – such as what they were planning to sell versus actual demand. By integrating with the insights we were able to gather from their business intelligence software, we gained full visibility of raw material all the way to the finished product, and then developed a proper demand plan for the holding company.

“This demand-supply planning approach had a direct impact on procurement and we were able to integrate that into the income statement and balance sheet across the entire group. That’s how planning should work: find out what the main business challenge is, and then use the best available software and processes to alleviate that challenge and streamline the business,” she says.

With CP’s user-friendly templates, built-in forex planning functionality and role-based user access, it also supports scenario planning by allowing users to quickly input and understand the impact of environmental and internal variable changes to the overall plan. Scenarios can then be converted into more formal forecasts, discarded, or saved for further analysis.

CP has helped customers to move from budgeting once a year, to updating forecasts weekly, ensuring that organisations have clearer visibility of where they will end up based on the latest scenario.

Jardim says that this type of control enables the agility required to react or change timeously, rather than let inefficiencies play out. “Ultimately, by using the best software with best practice processes, the job of a planning and business intelligence partner is to help businesses be the captains of their own ship and hold course, no matter where the tide wants to take you,” she says.

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