Speed and Agility: The Ultimate Guide to Continuous Planning

Speed and agility. If the pandemic has taught the business world anything, it is the necessity of speed and agility, the ability to respond and adapt in the face of economic turbulence. 

Historically, finance departments have struggled with the concept of agility. There is a significant gap between a company’s regular business activities and the periodic nature of financial operations which thrive on quarterly and year-end reporting standards. Couple that disconnect with a reliance on cumbersome software solutions, and your business is prone to interruptions and inefficiency. Adopting a philosophy of Continuous Planning can align your company’s finance activities with its business operations, mitigating inefficiency in the process. 

What is Continuous Planning?

Continuous Planning is a framework. It is a company-wide shift in corporate culture that aligns the finance department with the entirety of the business’s operations. It encourages uninterrupted planning and decision-making while fostering the democratization of information across your entire enterprise. Under Continuous Planning, every department has access to a wider range of business-critical information, and thus, a higher financial IQ.  

The Continuous Planning philosophy features:

  • Compressed cycle times
  • Finance involved in every corner of the business
  • A more collaborative, business-wide approach to planning
Who Benefits From Continuous Planning?

Corporate culture change can be a difficult undertaking.  You have to ask yourself, “Is Continuous Planning a good fit for my business?”

Your enterprise may benefit from Continuous Planning if your FP&A team feels their process has become slow and cumbersome. Continuous Planning can help if your team feels that financial planning activities have become reactive rather than proactive. Continuous Planning is for companies whose financial department is locked in “fire drill” mode rather than being a strategic advisor. 

What Does Continuous Planning Look Like?

The Continuous Planning framework is divided into four phases of progress and maturity:

The static phase is defined by data silos. Each department’s systems and information are discrete, and there is little exchange between finance and the rest of the enterprise. What little exchange exists is often ineffective and time-consuming. 

The modernized phase is marked by the advent of some automation through the use of FP&A software, but the effect of the automation doesn’t extend past finance. 

The expanding phase marks a shift toward a business-wide Continuous Planning process. Automation now extends to include other departments such as sales and marketing. The only thing holding it back is the division of investment in the automation. 

Phase four is the continuous phase, and it represents the pinnacle of your company’s cultural shift. Finance serves in a more strategic capacity and is involved in all aspects of the business. 

Selecting the Right Continuous Planning Platform

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Implementing Continuous Planning is similar. It involves selecting the right steering team and defining their roles. It also requires buy-in from members of the executive team. They have to be vocal proponents of Continuous Planning. 

The steering committee will consist of the company’s financial department, but they must take care to involve operations and IT as well. The earlier you involve a multi-disciplinary team, the better. That way all members are in alignment with the program’s requirements. After that, it is a matter of making a case for Continuous Planning to your company’s senior leadership. 

A good Continuous Planning program should include:

  • A comprehensive platform including analytics, reporting, and financial planning
  • A collaborative, business-wide design
  • A cloud-based, SaaS foundation
  • A customized user experience 
Speed and Agility Through Continuous Planning

The ability to shift directions and respond to ever-changing market conditions has become more crucial than ever. In order to develop that kind of financial agility, every department must move as a seamless unit, driven by a strong foundation of actionable, financial data. Companies can no longer afford to let fractured reporting practices interrupt the finance department and its role as chief strategist. 

To find out more about Continuous Planning, visit today and download the full white paper.

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