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Enterprise Planning

Originally published August 18, 2005

Enterprise planning is a methodology (backed up by a system) that assists an organization with creating an overall strategic plan. This system assists the organization in breaking down activities into initiatives that create a road map to assist in planning, monitoring and achieving your annual plan. Before we describe what enterprise planning can do for your organization, let�s talk about what planning is. The definition of planning is; the act of formulating a program for a definite course of action. A planning system is an integrated application that enables companies to effectively implement their strategic and tactical plans. In addition, it helps groups of people agree and align on a set of strategies and objectives. Planning provides a basic process and allows any group working together to easily track their collective efforts to implement their plans.

So what then, does a planning system do for your organization? It does many things but the most dramatic are:

  • Focuses everyone on results;
  • Regulates everyone to communicate, coordinate and commit;
  • Forecasts financial performance;
  • Manages company-wide performance;
  • Aligns individual targets and goals to the corporate objectives; and
  • Enables organizations to better understand, optimize and align their strategies and processes to improve effectiveness and increase efficiency.

When asked how companies typically plan, the most common response is that it is a lengthy, centralized process done by a few in the company for the rest of the company. The main technology used is spreadsheets which offer little, if any, collaboration of input and commitment across the enterprise. Instead of a few corporate planners or controllers laboring for many, many months over an annual plan, a planning system allows for small contributions to be received from hundreds or thousands quickly.

Planning requires information from a wide audience and the ability to communicate changing goals and expectations across the enterprise. These requirements place a demand on the system solution to offer both a high degree of scalability and quick response. These two items are mainly associated with application architecture.

A typical planning system is a rules-based documented workflow application. This means many folks have access to update their own component of the plan (and/or budget).

As each planner inputs their information, the data is stored and aggregated at a central server. This reduces the time to manually �integrate� multiple spreadsheets. Once all data is in, the final process of analyzing and approving the budget is quick. If there needs to be a global change (like a 5 percent reduction across the board) then it is simply a single press of a button to �re-adjust� the planning numbers.

Other considerations for the evaluators of enterprise planning solutions are to determine whether the solution:

  • Has the ability to incrementally expand the application into a larger solution with integrated corporate performance functionality;
  • Has the ability to help capitalize on the technology investments that have already been made;
  • Has break-back capability (the ability to �break it back� across members of a certain piece of the plan); and
  • Has real-time aggregation.

Planning is a key step that helps close the gap between strategy and action. Cutting the time spent on budgeting and planning processes gives your enterprise more time for in-depth analysis and maximization of operational effectiveness.

  • Tracy Wear

    Tracy Wear, Practice Manager for Data Management Group, specializes in business intelligence (BI) and performance management. Throughout her career, Tracy has led multiple business intelligence and enterprise resource planning implementations for commercial and government agencies. She’s held various positions such as Project Manager and Beta Manager.  Tracy holds two bachelor’s degrees: a B.S. in Computer Information Systems and a B.A. in Mathematics and Secondary Education.

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