Successfully navigating the shrinking planning cycle

15 January 2021 | Chris Bartram

With last year’s US presidential elections, various trade discussions, and the Brexit deadline, entrepreneurs were already anticipating a certain amount of volatility, and were gearing up for the uncertainty of the future.

 

However, within the first quarter of the year the worldwide spread of Covid-19 sent unprecedented shockwaves across businesses, markets, and economies.

As a result, planning strategies had to evolve at a much faster pace than many businesses were prepared for. In the new reality, success is measured by the capacity to respond and adjust progressively to unstable and extraordinary circumstances, rather than relying on previous conventional pre-defined strategies. Unfortunately, a large number of organisations still depend on long-term planning models that take weeks or even longer to adapt effectively to market changes.

Unlocking untapped business potential

Previously, long-run plans were based on a three-to-five-year view, in which business leaders evaluated the current market scenario and formulated predictions about the future, frequently depending on verifiable historic data. These plans were generally unaltered for broadened timeframes—paying little heed to market variations—making the information old and the data used to make decisions irrelevant.

The last 12 months have demonstrated that business agility is vital for progress, and organisations need to be far more adaptable than many of them have been up until now. Markets have significantly shortened their planning cycles, bringing significant time pressure to delivering quick long-range planning

Embracing a more coordinated method of business and financial planning can assist organisations with reinventing the way in which they work in these unique conditions. By eliminating lengthy processes and planning cycles and creating a single source of truth for the data of the company that updates in real time, a more responsive approach to planning can focus efforts on immediate as well as long-term goals. This will empower business leaders by giving them a holistic view of their organisation, enabling them see how decisions taken in one aspect of their business can impact the rest. With higher efficiency and agility, organisations can respond rapidly to change and drive progress in a quickly evolving market.

According to one CFO at a leading multinational professional services firm, “our goal is to be sufficiently agile to deal with all the changes that come our way. If you think about globalisation, about the evolving regulatory landscape, about the technical advantages, we need a framework where we can achieve that goal.” Leading organisations use smart agile planning to keep up with quickly developing worldwide business scenarios, so they can rapidly accommodate the changes into their budgeting and planning.

Planning for the future

Depending on gut instincts and isolated data to drive long-term organisational plans that are refreshed on a quarterly or yearly premise is no longer sufficient. Rather, ongoing, agile planning is needed to help organisations to continually adjust to the demands of the market.

Leaders can model various situations, working with the entirety of possible factors to understand the effect an abrupt change could have on their organisation’s performance. With advancements in planning tools and processes, organisations are able to act rapidly and conclusively in the midst of any disruption. The necessity for more agile business planning is evident as organisations are progressively characterised by their capacity to respond and react to vulnerability.

In the future, organisations that can rapidly adapt to changing market dynamics and flexibly plan in real-time will be able to thrive in the new business landscape. The future demands adaptability and change – in planning, decision making, and the way we use data to enhance organisational performance. This can only be possible if the leaders of today are equipped with the tools and skills required for tomorrow.

To find out how Axiom’s innovative EPM software can streamline your forecasting and planning processes so you can react faster to change, get in touch today by calling +44 (0)1932 548 465, or email us at hello@axiomepm.co.uk for an initial consultation.

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To find out how Axiom’s innovative EPM software can take the pain out of your financial data management and processing, get in touch today by calling +44 (0)1932 548 465, or email us at hello@axiomepm.co.uk for an initial consultation.