Investments in financial planning and analytics (FP&A) solutions are growing as data continues to explode and organizations seek to gain insights from it. However, executives are doubtful as to whether these investments add any real value to the business. One of the main reasons for this skepticism is that decision-makers don’t trust the quality of the underlying data that is powering analytics applications.
This is just one reason why planning and forecasting is such a challenging task. Fragmented, siloed processes without any meaningful input from operational areas, and inefficient planning practices are not meeting rapidly changing business requirements. Also, many organizations are still using spreadsheets, especially for planning processes outside of finance which creates a different set of challenges. Many of these challenges arise because companies are still using spreadsheets instead of integrated business planning software such as Oracle EPBCS.
Oracle Enterprise Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (EPBCS)
Oracle EPBCS gives businesses visibility into their plans across different departments and connects them to Finance – all with the simplicity of the cloud and without heavy reliance on IT. It suits the needs of both financial as well as operational planners across the enterprise – including sales, marketing, HR, IT, and other lines of business.
Oracle EPBCS helps organizations achieve this through a unique federated architecture that allows you to connect and align related planning processes across the enterprise, while still maintaining independence for the individual planners. Oracle is also offering free tools for Planning Cloud customers for a limited time.
Out-of-the-box capabilities of Oracle EPBCS include
- Financial planning: Integrated driver-based planning for the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow
- Workforce planning: Headcount and compensation planning to link financial plans with the workforce
- Projects planning: Bridging the gap between project planning systems and the financial planning process
- Capital planning: Planning for the long-term impact of capital assets on financial plans
Planning Challenges Exist Outside of Finance
Though a number of CFOs are aiming to reduce costs, they are looking to increase hiring for which capital needs to be deployed more effectively. Cost escalations are a common occurrence in IT projects, creating financial planning challenges for CFOs. Moreover, alignment with the plans of other business functions such as sales and marketing becomes difficult. But first, let’s consider how the business planning process typically works in many organizations.
Operations and other lines of business submit their plan, budget, or forecast at a granular level, which is then reviewed and approved by the FP&A team. However, FP&A departments are under constant pressure to drive efficiencies and must impose rigid standards to ensure that planning is done in a meaningful way across multiple lines of business. Other departments must plan and forecast in a way that suits their needs (e.g. HR focuses on skills and employees, Marketing focuses on campaigns, IT focuses on projects, Operations focuses on optimizing resources, etc.) often creating challenges for corporate FP&A teams.
But integrating plans from various parts of the organization is challenging, especially if you are dealing with many disconnected spreadsheets. Traditionally, departments outside of finance relied on detailed spreadsheets to support their internal planning processes as they didn’t want to rely on system administrators to run a planning process unique to their function. It gave them more control, and they could plan at a level of detail with which they were comfortable. Cloud-based business planning software like Oracle EPBCS allows operational users across different lines of business to deploy enterprise planning technology that’s independent of finance and move away from cumbersome spreadsheets.
Integrated Business Planning Improves Performance
Planning should not be limited to finance as research shows that organizations that are most successful at enterprise planning are able to effectively connect operational planning and financial planning. According to Ventana Research, companies that have integrated business planning processes have more accurate plans. 77 percent of planning processes depend on having access to accurate and timely data from other parts of the organization. This is why integrated business planning processes provide many benefits.
Cloud-based business planning software such as Oracle EPBCS makes it easier to move away from spreadsheets and drive the planning process beyond finance to the wider organization. It’s much more feasible to gain insights from line of business managers with a cloud-based model that can be rolled out across the organization.
Operational planners are empowered with the agility, flexibility, and scalability to plan according to their needs, while still ensuring the transparency and control demanded by financial planners. Cloud-based business planning software like Oracle EPBCS manages to find the right balance between providing best-practice planning while continuing to provide the option to be highly configured for planning processes that are unique.
Are your legacy Hyperion systems resulting in disconnected business planning and inaccurate forecasting? You have two choices.
Either upgrade to the latest version of on-premise Oracle EPM or migrate to Oracle EPM Cloud. Find out which option is right for you: