Supply disruptions, demand fluctuations, labor shortages, and price hikes: The COVID-19 pandemic caught many organizations unprepared. With the pandemic’s onset, organizations worldwide suddenly had to rethink their operations and planning. Almost three-quarters (72%) of surveyed business executives say the pandemic significantly altered their business plans, according to a recent study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services in association with eCapital Advisors technology partner Workday Adaptive Planning.
By and large, business leaders agree on their enterprise planning needs in today’s fast-changing world. At least 80% of the 288 surveyed executives rate the following attributes highly important for enterprise planning: flexible/adaptable, continuous, data-driven, collaborative, and scalable planning.
But the report identifies a significant disconnect between the planning attributes that organizations want and the ones they have. While 91% of respondents describe data-driven planning as highly important, only 47% say their organization’s planning is data-driven to a great extent. And while 88% say flexible and adaptive planning is highly important, only 40% consider their planning flexible and adaptive. Instead, many continue to rely on traditional and inflexible tools such as spreadsheets. The report explores this gap and how businesses are closing it.
Minding the Modern Planning Gap
Business leaders face a slew of challenges with their current enterprise planning. According to 60% of executives, their processes are too manual and slow—the most common planning challenge. Other top hurdles include:
- Lack of talent with knowledge of modern enterprise planning.
- Not enough engagement and ownership among stakeholders.
- Tools that are not flexible enough to adapt to operational changes.
- Bad data or multiple versions of the truth.
Almost three-quarters (72%) of surveyed business executives say the pandemic significantly altered their business plans.
Even though the challenges of traditional planning tools have become quite clear, a decisive majority of organizations (62%) continue to use them.
The good news? Business leaders realize their current approaches to planning are no longer sufficient, and they are making changes that span people, processes, and technology.
- 55% have updated their planning tools.
- 50% have revised their overall planning approach and strategy.
- 38% have adjusted the people involved in planning.
- 33% have increased the frequency of their forecasting to support faster decision-making.
Notably, these business leaders expect to continue modernizing in the months ahead. Almost 3 in 5 respondents (58%) plan to increase investment in enterprise planning tools over the next 12 months. And 80% say they intend to increase their use of advanced planning tools.
An overwhelming majority (92%) of executives using modern planning tools report realizing positive business outcomes, including improved agility, alignment, and insight.
What do business leaders say they want out of their planning toolkits? Tools that are “more automated and less manual, better integrated with systems of record, more intelligent and predictive, more flexible, more visual, and driven by real-time data.”
Reaching for the Future
While there’s a heavy dependence on traditional planning tools such as spreadsheets and manual forecasting models, there’s also a clear consensus on the value of modernizing those tools. Almost all respondents (91%) say that modern planning tools can help them be more flexible and adaptive in their enterprise planning and can help them drive growth with more intelligent resource allocation, and 85% say they can help organizations like theirs hit financial targets.
Many organizations have already started to reach for the future—and gain a business advantage. An overwhelming majority (92%) of executives using modern planning tools report realizing positive business outcomes, including improved agility, alignment, and insight.
Business leaders see significant gaps between the enterprise planning they have and the one they want and need, the report finds. While many leaders still rely on outdated and inflexible planning tools, the survey also uncovers a positive trend: Businesses are aware of their shortcomings with enterprise planning, and more are adopting modern planning tools.
This article was adapted from the Workday Adaptive Planning blog.