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Your planning app should go beyond just automating spreadsheets

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Your planning app should go beyond just automating spreadsheets

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Selecting a new planning app can be an arduous task. You see lots of flashy demos, sales presentations and “cool” looking features. They all look the same right?

Well, that may be the true, but when you peel back the onion and take a closer look, there are some significant differences between the different vendor solutions.

If I were to say to you that your planning system would force you to combine your cost center and account dimensions into a single dimension by concatenating all of the cost center and account codes, you’d think I was crazy, right? If you knew in advance that it worked that way, you would never buy it, correct? Unfortunately, some solutions don’t reveal their shortcomings until after they’re implemented.

Capabilities “unthinkable in the spreadsheet world”

Acquiring a new planning application is a journey. Ideally, your new planning app is not just a great spreadsheet automation tool, but is also an enabler which can unlock a whole series of capabilities that were unthinkable in the spreadsheet world. Examples include: rolling forecasts, driver-based planning, linking operations to finance and predictive forecasting, to name but a few. The ultimate goal is an organization in which plans for Finance, Operations, Sales, HR and a range of other essential functions can be created on a single, integrated platform, where planning is pervasive throughout the organization and the organization is constantly aligning resources to seize new opportunities.

With that said, it is important that you select the right planning platform which can support you on the above journey — even if your initial goal is simply to automate your spreadsheets.

More things to consider in a planning app

There are certain attributes of planning system engines that are absolutely essential for a serious planning system. A few that come to mind are:

  • An in-memory calculation engine for performance
  • A multi-cube architecture for flexibility
  • A sparsity engine to handle enterprise-class data volumes

Beyond these basics, my recent blog articles offer more suggestions on things to consider:

The moral of the story is that a little extra care in your due diligence will benefit you when you’re choosing a planning application. Taking a good look under the hood before you buy — starting from the guidelines I’ve given in this series of posts — will set you up for success in your performance management journey.

And if you want to read more about how IBM Planning Analytics can take your organization beyond just automating spreadsheets, read our new Smartpaper, Beyond process efficiency—Driving business value in the age of analytics.


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