You have been advocating integrating all forms of business planning for more than a decade. What are the most valuable benefits of this approach?

The research we’ve done suggests that an integrated process works better for everyone. It cuts the workloads of the participants in the planning process. It makes it simpler for FP&A organizations to manage the process, perform analyses and create reports. And it can shorten planning and forecasting cycles. Rather than having planning data scattered around a company – often in desktop spreadsheets – integrating all of a company’s business planning activities in a single planning software environment makes all planning data easier to access. Integrating all of the planning data and analyses provides forward-looking business visibility, especially for senior management. This type of environment also makes it easier to construct models that focus executives’ attention on key business drivers and their financial consequences. Easier access to data in the other plans enables everyone to be able to examine both the “things” about the business – such as units sold, labor hours and purchased parts – and their associated revenue and costs. Integrated planning improves forecast reliability and provides a clearer picture of performance and forecast accuracy. And having easier access to data from a range of plans makes it feasible to create a richer set of metrics and analysis to assess performance. 

© Ventana Research 2015 Ventana Research: Q&A: Strategic Financial Planning and Management