When the #AProadshow hit Boston in mid-September, Adaptive Planning Senior Manager of Customer Excellence Ben Lamorte took center stage and detailed his three keys to getting business operations teams involved in financial planning, budgeting and forecasting to and enable a more data-driven decision-making culture. Ben’s session, entitled Three Ways to Drive Planning Across your Business, was a hit among the hundreds of finance leaders and industry analysts in attendance.
Emma Snider, associate editor for SearchFinancialApplications.com, wrote a feature piece for TechTarget based on Ben’s presentation and advice. Here’s a portion of what Snider had to say:
“The overarching takeaway from Lamorte’s session, Three Ways to Drive Better Planning Across Your Business” at the Adaptive Planning Roadshow held in Boston last week, was that finance leaders should collaborate and cater to operations managers from beginning to end of the corporate financial planning process…Lamorte’s three best practices broke down the strategy into smaller action items that can help finance leaders involve the right operations managers at the right times to drive more effective planning.” — Emma Snider
If you missed Ben in Boston, check out an abbreviated version of his three steps below. Snider’s take in TechTarget is also worth a look.
1. Get Operations Involved and Excited
The key is to incorporate the broad organizational view of executives with perspectives from the line of business leaders who are in the trenches day-to-day. But you can’t include them all involved from day one. Instead, Ben advises starting with managers who possess the following characteristics:
a. Respected managers with opinions that people take seriously
b. Managers who are tech-savvy
Once you identify the right people, foster enthusiasm for getting involved by celebrating even the smallest accomplishments.
2. Implement Customized Driver-Based Plans with Operations and Collaborate on KPIs
Ben suggests including operational teams right from the start during financial modeling and. Rather than brainstorming a list of KPIs, begin by listing the types of decisions the operator would like the model to inform. This way, KPIs aimed at improving decision-making can emerge organically.
And what if operators are concerned about financial planning cutting into their daily jobs?
Ben says that finance leaders should not only act as a resource for operations, but also understand current KPIs and allow operations managers to create financial plans using familiar tools instead of forcing them to use general ledger codes.
Finance teams should keep their eye on the prize. The goal here is to create integrated driver-based plans. Start by including one department, but don’t stop until you achieve cross-departmental input and collaboration and can connect drivers in each department to the overall corporate strategy.
3. Analytics for All!!!
If you give more people access to analytics, you’ll have more people within your organization who understand what moves the needle and drives the organization forward. Visual analytics in particular are key in helping people outside of finance to understand KPIs. Dashboards, charts, graphs, and colors all work as long as you don’t get carried away. The simpler the better.
Even if you’ve only identified a few KPIs where data is readily available, begin by prototyping dashboards with real data. Operations leaders don’t want to see “mock-ups” and you make a great first impression when presenting real data in dashboards for feedback. The sooner you can shift the conversation away from the mechanics of the dashboard to the insights that inform decision-making, the sooner you will be perceived as a valuable resource that enables operations to succeed. Get hands-on and show other department leaders how to use their new-found insight to achieve departmental goals, and, ultimately, corporate goals.