Written By: Stephanie Freyer, IBM Planning Analytics Marketing, IBM

Originally posted April 16, 2019

As companies look to fully embrace agility as a way of working and doing business, integrated planning is emerging as an ideal way forward.

Integrated planning unleashes the power of enterprise performance management across your company to support business and organizational agility. That’s right. Some thought this approach was only for the finance organization. But it can take on the needs of all lines of business within organizations—especially those aspiring to be agile. Let’s explore how.

The importance of being agile

Agility can help solve the problems created by business change or disruption. Agile companies can react swiftly and successfully when new competitors, new technological advances or sudden market shifts appear on the horizon. Collaboration and sharing are critical to agility when delivering long-term business value is the goal. Agile companies also—and this is critical—provide employees across all business units with access to a central repository of data they need to make informed decisions, connecting the process across all departments.

If you want to embrace agility, you need to establish processes and systems that enable information to flow freely in all directions. In addition, your employees must be able to experiment, test theories and iterate. But this free-flow of information can get stuck if data exists in silos and planning and analytics are not built in.

So, what’s the answer?

Planning the work and working the plan with integrated planning

As one recent article about business planning explained, operations, sales, marketing, human resources and other departments and disciplines all need fast, flexible planning and analysis. These business areas also need to be able to easily share information, access data, and test scenarios in one unified, centralized place.

Integrated planning removes the silos and barriers to information-sharing by applying a modern, enterprise performance management approach to planning that creates a single source of truth. To drive the best possible decisions, integrated planning helps you attain insights and create plans at the speed of business, collaborate cross-functionally, and respond quickly to change.

Accelerated planning, analysis and insights

Agile companies can’t be slowed down by complicated layers of technology and manual processes that are not easily shared or updated across business areas or units. Integrated planning automates processes like budgeting and forecasting. You no longer have to search for a spreadsheet that might be on someone’s hard drive or wonder if the change you made in one part of your plan has been updated elsewhere. As a result, you can greatly reduce the time it takes to gain insights, and your teams can make better decisions faster using more accurate data.

Easier collaboration for greater accuracy and alignment

With integrated planning, the barriers to open collaboration can vanish. Processes and data are in sync across the organization—from HR to sales to operations—so that plans are more accurate, and everyone is on the same page. Communication flows in every direction as teams from different parts of the organization work together to achieve common goals and align strategies. Collaboration is a key component of an agile organization, and integrated planning delivers.

The agility to react swiftly to change

Business conditions can change in a heartbeat. How quickly can you react? Disparate planning and forecasting tools make it difficult to adapt, test theories or consider all the possible impacts of a market shift. Integrated planning, on the other hand, helps your organization prepare. Dynamic plans, forecasts and reports enable your entire organization to adjust to unexpected developments or disruptions. You can look at information from all points of view and assess impact to inform the best decisions possible.

Ready to learn more about integrated planning and agility?

Integrated planning is modern enterprise performance management designed for agile organizations. Are you ready to embrace agility? Get started today with IBM Planning Analytics.