Effective annual planning requires a lot of time and effort. Every year, you need to:
- prepare and collect financial and operational data
- gather input from managers and executives from across the organization
- develop financial projections
- make tactical decisions and establish budget targets
- communicate outcomes
- track results
At the same time, annual planning and budgeting isn’t just an optional task; it’s something that all high performing organizations must repeat each year.
As renowned management expert Peter Drucker once said:
Unfortunately, many organizations, even those who are highly committed to strong management practices, use manual methods to conduct most types of planning.
Here are a just a few examples of manual, time-consuming activities that are repeated each year:
- Retrieving financial and operational data needed for planning and splitting it out into various documents, spreadsheets, and reports
- Creating and updating dozens of spreadsheets each year to keep pace with organizational changes and evolving needs
- Collecting requests and projections from across departments/units in disparate spreadsheets
- Aggregating and rolling-up all projections from across many departments and spreadsheets
- Maintaining shared sites that contain myriad files and require constant permissions management
- Tracking decisions and action items in email chains
It’s 2020! Save time and money by moving out of the dark ages of manual planning….
These manual steps add an unnecessary burden to leaders and financial managers who are already pressed for time. The inefficiency is especially painful in a year like 2020 where many organizations have directed significant energy to the COVID-19 pandemic response.
As an executive or manager responsible for planning, you literally can’t afford wasted time or resources within your planning efforts.
This raises an important question – how can you most efficiently tackle your planning requirements each year?
One readily available solution is to use technology to streamline all aspects of your planning process. A modern system such as Plan4’s 4Cast platform will automate many functions, retain and aggregate data, and track decisions, saving you effort, time, and ultimately, money.
Let’s explore five specific examples where a true planning solution like 4Cast will help your organization.
5 Ways that 4Cast Will Save You Time (and Money)
1) Data Preparation – A fully integrated planning effort entails many data elements from an array of sources. Here is a list of a few:
As a modern planning platform, 4Cast gives you the ability to aggregate this information into one place. These data elements can be loaded or even directly integrated from source systems into your planning solution. Data integration prevents you from having to pull everything together by hand.
2) Data Collection – Many of the data elements you need for planning will come from the managers in your organization. For example, managers of each department/function play a key role in planning by developing budgetary projections for a variety of resource areas. Instead of gathering this information via spreadsheets, a planning solution like 4Cast provides you with a secure, consistent, and user-friendly method to collect everything you will need from across the organization. Additionally, a planning tool will automatically roll-up all data into useful and customizable views.
3) Accuracy – A common planning challenge is dealing with inaccurate projections and requests. In a manual process, the probably of encountering data errors and omissions is high. A comprehensive planning solution like 4Cast provides data validation features and the ability to identify any data issues or outliers. Even better, a leading solution will apply analytics to assist with projecting accurate trends and scenarios.
4) Tracking – Your planning process will result in many outcomes and decisions that need to be tracked and managed. These may include approvals, action items, budget allocations, performance targets, and more. A solution like 4Cast retains all of these critical items and presents them in easy-t0-use dashboards for executives and managers to view and update. In addition to a time saving benefit, the features also increase accountability and transparency.
5) Support – With a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution such as 4Cast, you get more than just technology. You’ll also have access to a support team ready to assist with configuration, data preparation, user support, and training. Additionally, the support team has guides, manuals, and other best practices readily available to share. In a year where you and your staff are pressed for time, having access to this level of support can make all the difference.
You’ve got enough on your plate. Let the Plan4 team lend a hand and help you use 4Cast to make your planning efforts as efficient as possible.
So, how can planning technology save you time?
By automating manual efforts, streamlining processes, decreasing errors, preventing rework, and adding extra muscle to your team.
By reducing staffing dedicated to planning, by increasing the quality of your planning, and ensuring follow-through on budget planning and financial performance.
The Plan4 Team stands ready to help your organization use our 4Cast platform to start saving time and money. Contact us to schedule a demonstration and discuss how we can be of service.