Our first episode of Being Planful featured planning and decision-making expert Howard Dresner, Chief Research Officer at Dresner Advisory Services. Howard’s firm is noted for their Wisdom of Crowds® research reports, which are based on data collected on usage and deployment trends, products, and vendors. You can get a free copy of their new Wisdom of Crowds® Enterprise Performance Management Market Study here.
Related to current events, Howard’s firm recently released two pandemic-focused studies: Covid Business Impact Survey and Current Trends in Planning. Howard and I discussed the findings in this inaugural episode, but here’s a quick overview of what he told me.
The Outlook is Positive
Our customers have been using Planful more than ever since the pandemic took hold. During that time, we’ve been hearing and seeing three distinct business phases of this crisis: ambush, regrouping, and recovery. The entire world was ambushed by COVID-19, but then as businesses better understood the impact over the first couple of months, many began to regroup.
But now, Howard said, more businesses are entering the recovery phase. About half of companies he surveyed are still under hiring freezes, but between April and June, hiring has started to increase. And, although many budgets are still capped, companies have stopped reducing budgets, which is promising.
“I think that most companies have already done what they had to do,” Howard said, in reference to budget and headcount cuts. “Now they have a sense of what this new normal is going to be.”
Modern FP&A Teams Were Better Prepared
Howard shared a few interesting charts comparing business recovery split by those who do or do not employ a cloud-based Planning platform, which Howard refers to as Enterprise Performance Management (EPM). As you can probably guess, those not rushing to move to Continuous Planning—even after struggling through the pandemic—have a less-than-rosy outlook. Companies using Continuous Planning, however, “were able to better manage (their business) because they figured out the scope and impact more quickly, and they could adjust their plans and execute against them more quickly,” Howard noted.
These modern tools also helped FP&A react with more agility and speed, and work more closely with the business. Howard found that many companies moved from annual and quarterly planning to more frequent cycles. And, for forecasting, the share of companies using a weekly cycle doubled from last year. It shows that the pandemic pushed more companies to adopt a Continuous Planning approach because they needed the speed and flexibility to react to the chaos and uncertainty.
“(The pandemic) forced organizations to think deeply about how they run the business, measure the business, monitor the business,” added Howard. “I’m hopeful that it sticks so that when the next ‘black swan’ hits, they’ll be better prepared.”
Here’s What Dresner Recommends
OK, you’re going to have to listen to the episode to get the details, but I promise, it’s an engaging and deeply informative conversation. If you’re in a hurry, jump to the 43:00 mark for Howard’s recommendations.
Once you’ve listened to Howard, check out the next episodes of Being Planful. Episode 2 is a conversation with Kevin Zell, Strategic Finance Manager at Carta, who detailed the benefits they’re realizing by moving to Continuous Planning and away from spreadsheets. Episode 3 features Tim Zue, CFO at the Boston Red Sox, who talked about the organization’s transformation as they expand Continuous Planning to cover reporting, monthly forecasting, financial close, and more.
Subscribe to Being Planful
This new podcast series explores the benefits of adopting a “Planful” mindset by inviting your FP&A peers, analysts, industry experts, and more, to share their experiences and insights. Podcasting also lets us stay socially-distant while giving you a more flexible way to learn about Continuous Planning, whether it’s watching it on your phone, listening during your morning run, or tuning-in whenever it’s convenient.
If you’d like to subscribe, click on your podcast platform of choice (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or Spotify), or just search for “Planful” wherever you listen. I’ll be releasing new episodes often, so be sure to subscribe. And, if you have any comments, questions, or think you’d make a great guest, send me an email at email@example.com.