Why Continuous Improvement is critical to your planning solution

Finext implements powerful business planning platforms with many capabilities. One of the benefits that many organizations want to achieve with such a platform is obtaining company-wide short-term financial insights. This requires smooth collaboration, with different business units and departments using the same planning platform. In practice, this is no easy task.

The journey of a connected planning platform

Rome was not built in a day. The same can be said of a connected planning program. It is a journey like building the Sagrada Familia cathedral. Even though it took more than 125 years, you can see the clear vision, ownership and solid foundation. You need improvisation and perseverance in a constantly changing environment to achieve the ultimate goals.

The same can be said of an organization that understands the transition from hindsight, through insight, to foresight. Today, having a competitive advantage requires more than having (financial) control and insights. Smart organizations are moving to the level of foresight using integrated forecasting and artificial intelligence. This is a journey for which - besides a clear vision and a strong foundation - a roadmap for continuous improvement is crucial.

Different business processes in one platform

"If you choose a planning configuration platform like Anaplan or Pigment, you do so because you have a clear vision about automating your business planning processes. In most cases we see that the vision is to bring different functions and their planning processes into one platform," says Stephan de Wit, Performance Management consultant at Finext.

Achieving this vision requires a long-term approach because you are not implementing one process, but many more. Stephan: "Bringing a single business function into the planning platform can take only a few months, depending on the complexity of the processes. However, automating multiple functions often requires a multi-year program based on a continuous improvement approach."

The challenge of multi-ownership

Serving your entire organization with the benefits of Anaplan will involve many different business units and functions. This brings the challenge of multi-ownership: all these business units and departments have their own vision and purpose for planning and forecasting.

One way to address this challenge is to let everyone create their own planning models. And fair is fair, Anaplan and Pigment are so powerful that you can do that. Often, however, this approach leads to disappointment because you can't take full advantage of the value of the connected platform. Subsequently, various business functions will start to doubt using the platform and may even choose their own tool or stick to spreadsheets.

Avoid stagnation after the first project

Another disadvantage of this "freedom" approach is that the implementation program may stagnate after the first business owner completes his project. Suppose finance is the first business owner. This is often where the first project is started. Once finance has finished implementation, is in control and has access to all required processes and reports, this team is satisfied. In practice, we often see that finance is less motivated to promote the program to other business processes. After all, they are busy enough with their core business and can use Anaplan themselves for everything they need. However, the original business case was based on the vision of bringing multiple business functions into the platform.

Organizational problems

These challenges don't just occur when using Anaplan or Pigment. All robust platform solutions present these challenges because they are so powerful that the goal of accommodating multiple processes in a single solution is technically feasible. The problems are primarily organizational in nature and thus require an organizational solution.

"We have seen that it becomes a hit and run if you don't organize the implementation centrally and based on a solid roadmap. Some departments start projects and successfully implement their own requirements. Individually, these departments will certainly benefit, but your organization will not get the full value out of the platform or achieve the vision of connected planning," Stephan said.

Continuous improvement and a Centre of Excellence

Continuous improvement helps meet these challenges, even more so when it is organized in a Centre of Excellence. In such a Centre of Excellence, you can centralize all the expertise and in-depth knowledge needed for implementation. Above all, you ensure that the ambition to achieve the original vision has one central owner: the Centre of Excellence.

Using this centralized approach supports the organization in achieving all the objectives of the business case, and more importantly, it opens the door to the foresight level that can give your organization a competitive advantage. Based on continuous improvement, step by step, department by department, the roadmap is realized. Connected planning comes to life as your own Sagrada Familia.

How do you set up a Centre of Excellence?

Want to learn more about organizing continuous improvement by setting up a Centre of Excellence? Find out more in How to start a Centre of Excellence for Anaplan or Pigment.

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