What are the most important trends in financial planning?

Three trends in particular are worth noting. One is “finance transformation” – the idea that finance departments need to shift the balance of the work they do from repetitive mechanical tasks to more valuable analysis. In that way, they increase their strategic value to the rest of the company. The second is the shift toward greater integration of financial and operating planning. Companies do a lot of planning, much of it in silos. Typically, the most integrated plan is the company budget, but its focus usually is financial. Bringing together sales plans, head-count plans and other operating plans in a single planning environment makes financial planning timelier and therefore more accurate. It also simplifies the planning process because individual plan data can be quickly consolidated. The third trend is adoption of a rolling-quarters approach to planning and forecasting. This method continually pushes the planning horizon outward to suit the needs of the business for planning visibility rather than truncating it at the end of the fiscal period.