It’s 2023… are you still planning and reporting from spreadsheets?

By | 4 minute read | January 17, 2023

I have worked with IBM Planning Analytics with Watson, the platform formerly known as TM1, for over 20 years. I have never been more excited to share in our customers’ enthusiasm for this solution and how it is revolutionising many manual, disconnected, and convoluted processes to support an organisation’s planning and decision-making activities.

Over the last few months, we have been collecting stories from our customers and projects delivered in 2022 and hearing the feedback on how IBM Planning Analytics has helped support organisations across not only the office of finance – but all departments in their organisation.

The need for a better planning and management system

More and more we are seeing demand for solutions that bring together a truly holistic view of both operational and financial business planning data and models across the entire width and breadth of the enterprise. Having such a platform that also allows planning team members to leverage predictive forecasting and integrate decision management and optimisation models puts organisations at a significant advantage over those that continue to rely on manual worksheet or spreadsheet-based planning processes.

A better planning solution in action

One such example comes from a recent project with Oceania Dairy. Oceania Dairy operates a substantial plant in the small New Zealand, South Island town of Glenavy, on the banks of the Waitaki River. The plant can convert 65,000 litres of milk per hour into 10 tons of powder, or 47,000 tons of powder per year, from standard whole milk powders through to specialty powders including infant formula. The site runs infant formula blending and canning lines, UHT production lines, and produces Anhydrous Milk Fat. In total, the site handles more than 250 million litres of milk per year and generates export revenue of close to NZD$500 million.

Oceania Supply Chain Manager, Leo Zhang shares in our recently published case study: “Connectivity has two perspectives: people to people, facilitating information flows between our 400 employees on site. Prior to CorPlan’s work to implement the IBM Planning Analytics product, there was low information efficiency, with people working on legacy systems or individual spreadsheets. The second perspective is integration. While data is supposed to be logically connected, decision makers were collating Excel sheets, resulting in poor decision efficiency.”

CorPlan”, adds Zhang, “has fulfilled this aspect by delivering a common platform which creates a single version of the truth, and a central system where data updates uniformly”. In terms of Collaboration, he says teams working throughout the supply chain managing physical stock flows are being connected from the start to the finish of product delivery. “It’s hard for people to work towards a common goal in the absence of a bigger picture. Collaboration brings that bigger picture to every individual while CorPlan provides that single, common version of the truth,” Zhang comments.

The merits of a holistic planning platform

While the approach of selecting a platform to address a single piece of the planning puzzle – such as Merchandise Planning, or S&OP (Sales and Operational Planning), Workforce Planning or even FP&A (Financial Planning and Analysis) – may be a organisations desired strategy, selecting a platform that can grow and support all planning elements across the organisation has significant merits. Customers such as Oceania Dairy are realising true ROI metrics by having:

  • All an organisation’s stakeholders operating from a single set of agreed planning assumptions, permissions, variables, and results
  • A platform that supports the ability to run any number of live forecast models to support the data analysis and what-if scenarios that are needed to support stakeholder decision-making
  • An integrated consolidation of the various data sources capturing the actual transactional data sets, such as ERP, Payroll, CRM, Data Marts/ Warehouses, external data stores and more
  • Enterprise-level security
  • In the cloud, as a service delivery

My team and I get a big kick out of delivering that first real-time demonstration to a soon-to-be customer, showing them what the IBM Planning Analytics platform can do. It is not just the extensive features and workflow functionality that generates excitement. It is that moment when they experience a sudden and striking realisation – an epiphany – that this product is going to revolutionise the painful, challenging, and time-consuming process of pulling together a plan.

What is even better is then delivering a project successfully, on time and within budget, that delivers the desired results and exceeds expectations.

If you want to experience what “good planning” looks like, feel free to reach out. The CorPlan team would love to help you start your performance management journey. We can help with product trials, proof of concept or simply supply more information about the solution to support your internal business case. It’s time to address the challenges that a disconnected, manual planning and reporting process brings.


To read the full Oceania Dairy case study, please visit the CorPlan website here.

If you’re interested to see how IBM Planning Analytics work, try it for free by accessing the trial here.