Five steps to improving your competitive edge with integrated business planning
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Five steps to improving your competitive edge with integrated business planning

Five steps to improving your competitive edge with integrated business planning

Here’s how to successfully integrate business planning taking into account the impact on people, processes and the technology

Gulf Business
business planning

Competitive advantage is tightly associated with timely action. Any number of scenarios spring to mind – tennis matches, games of chess, bargains in marketplaces. Right now, economic recovery is gaining momentum across the region and enterprise leaders are trying to keep track of consumer sentiment, industry trends and a wide range of other data points that hold the key to their prosperity. In this moment, traditional business planning can no longer rise to the modern standards required to deliver a tangible competitive advantage. However, integrated business planning (IBP) offers a compelling opportunity. It is a cross-functional discipline that unites the plans of separate business units into a single coordinated strategy. It fosters greater transparency and up-to-the-minute relevance, leading to enhanced quality and visibility of data, which offers numerous ways to increase value.

Here are the best-practice steps to successful IBP that account for the impact it will have on people, processes, and the technology ecosystem.

Know your end game
Roadmaps, by definition, have destinations. But in business planning, a vague destination can mean your roadmap is a highway to nowhere. Stakeholders must consider where they want to be, what they want to be doing, and how they want to be doing it, before embarking on the journey. A “clearly defined strategy” may be a business cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason.

Gathering all relevant domain experts is practical and necessary if an organisation is to successfully restructure and achieve its stated financial goals. Collaboration should occur early and often, as it has the potential to identify any requirements gaps that can be plugged more easily at the beginning of the change management process. Consider the future. Forecasts do not have to be the nebulous stuff of market-gazers. Many industry developments are well-telegraphed and allow planners to make the right moves to ensure they align with upheavals both small and large. Having as wide an array as possible of domain experts on hand during the planning process means an organisation is more likely to be aware of approaching crises and better able to compose reliable forecasts. These accurate views will inform everything from supply chain management and warehousing to technology procurement and even employee leave schedules.

Measure, measure, measure
Transparent communication of everything relevant to the business, its current operations, its budgets, and its ambitions is critical in an IBP environment. Well–defined, cross–departmental KPIs will ensure all stakeholders can see the road ahead and align their actions with the common purpose. A unified language that everyone understands also leads to greater confidence in the data, since all decision-makers receive the same multi-angle view of the organisation.

Leverage technology
Even with the best of wills, aging legacy technology systems can fall short on efforts to create rich, unified views of business performance. Modern software solutions known as enterprise performance management are ideal for delivering integrated business planning. It can bolt into the workflows of multiple departments and directly facilitate collaboration and transparency, paving the way to a culture change that benefits operational efficiency, increased planning accuracy, productivity, and a range of other business metrics.

Andreas Simon is the director – Sales MEA at Jedox

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