GUIDE

What is Continuous Planning?

Who it’s for
  • Finance professionals new to Continuous Planning cloud platforms
  • Finance teams struggling with laborious, manual, and time-intensive FP&A activities 
  • Finance and business leaders who can’t produce accurate insights fast enough
What you’ll learn
  • The basics of Continuous Planning and how it provides finance and business leaders with agility and confidence
  • How Continuous Planning can unite the organization and enable cross-functional collaboration between finance and other departments
  • How Continuous Planning enables finance to evolve into the strategic core of the organization

Business is Continuous, Planning Should Be Too

The world is moving faster than ever, which brings unprecedented economic change and opportunity. Business leaders are operating in highly dynamic environments, contending with near-daily surprises that can alter their course and disrupt even the best laid plans.

Finance and business leaders are charged with managing this uncertainty and the speed at which it comes. It’s forcing finance professionals and executives to fundamentally shift how they think, operate, plan, and perform. Agility and responsiveness are critical. Leaders need real-time access to comprehensive data to analyze current performance, promptly evaluate the impact of unexpected events, and quickly assess options on how to move forward. They need to elevate the financial IQ of the entire organization so that everybody in the business can engage in the planning and decision-making process in a more meaningful way. These are needs that leadership teams are turning to finance to answer.

This is the essence of Continuous Planning, a vision for finance and business leadership to drive a more continuous and agile planning and decision-making culture. One that increases the financial IQ of the whole organization, increases the speed, agility, confidence, and frequency of financial decision-making, and ultimately positions finance as the trusted strategic center of the organization.

Continuous Planning is Modern Finance

While weathering this storm of uncertainty, finance is also under pressure to do more, faster, and with fewer resources. Now more than ever, Finance is at the center of every business, and CFOs must evolve their teams into a more strategic, more data-driven source of insights to drive better decisions for the business.

But a major challenge faced by finance is one of productivity. Laborious, time-intensive manual activities – like collecting, aggregating, and validating plans and reports in offline spreadsheets – cost the finance team hundreds of man-hours each month. That’s real time, money, and effort that could be redirected to more strategic activities.

Everyone in finance knows that spreadsheets are old and that even small companies outgrow Excel. That’s been clear for years. But finance hasn’t enjoyed the same technological transformations that other departments have. Finance has been stuck with spreadsheets because they ‘can’ work. Even with all of their security risks, productivity and efficiency drawbacks, and lack of audit and tracking capabilities, they still can get the job done in some scenarios.

It’s time for a change.

While you can’t change the fundamental requirements of finance, like closing the books or building financial plans and reports, you can automate and accelerate those activities to free finance from the manual, laborious work that consumes so much of their time. You can provide business leaders with relevant data when it’s needed, engage in faster financial planning, and make more informed strategic decisions more frequently. It all starts with recognizing the needs of today’s finance teams, while resetting the organization’s outlook on what finance can be.

The next step is leveraging the right technology to help. Continuous Planning must be built upon a modern platform where all organizational data, tasks, deliverables, and collaboration exist in one user experience, accessible to finance and business users anytime and from anywhere. Automation and intelligence help to eliminate routine and recurring tasks and eliminate errors, condensing weeks of work into minutes and freeing finance to focus on strategic partnership and decision-making.

Benefits of Continuous Planning

  • Accelerates the speed and frequency with which finance can close, analyze, plan and execute. 
  • Enables FP&A with more speed and control over actual financial results to drive a more continuous and agile planning and decision-making culture. 
  • Provides more, faster, and deeper insights into business performance to help leaders develop and hone potential responses, and course-correct more quickly with greater confidence.
  • Automates the burden of manual processes, creating efficiency, accuracy, and faster access to comprehensive business data.
  • Elevates the financial IQ of the entire organization, empowering business users to actively participate in the planning process in a more meaningful way. 
  • Offers structured planning for finance and dynamic planning for business users, creating a collaborative partnership between finance and the business that improves overall business performance and establishes finance as an indispensable component of strategy development for the company

Just as cloud-based software has advanced other areas of the business, Continuous Planning platforms now do it for finance. Companies who have made the switch can’t imagine going back because they’ve not only ensured FP&A is future ready, they’ve turned finance into a strategic advantage.

Signs You’re Ready for Continuous Planning

If you’ve read this far, chances are you’re ready for a move to Continuous Planning. You might be frequently behind the ball and working in a purely reactive “fire drill” state. Perhaps you’re regularly asked questions you don’t have answers to. Or maybe you’re sick and tired of working long into the evenings to hit deadlines.

If your financial planning and analysis processes have become slow, manual, reactive drains on your team, then you’re ready to embark on the journey towards a state of Continuous Planning.

In Summary

1

Continuous Planning is a vision for finance and business leadership that elevates the financial IQ of the organization and increases the speed, accuracy, and frequency of financial decision-making. It empowers the entire organization with the agility and responsiveness they need to win.

2

Continuous Planning provides finance with more time to analyze performance, plan what to do next, and work with the business to successfully deploy and execute those plans.

3

Continuous Planning enables finance to automate laborious, time-intensive, and manual activities. That saves real time, money, and effort that can now be spent on higher value and more strategic work.

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