Written by Heather L. Cole, October 7th 2021
The world has changed. If we learned anything from the Pandemic, it is that our organizations must be able to respond quickly. For many the old methods of strategic planning, financial planning and operational planning are not flexible enough. Finance teams were sent scrambling to run scenarios in Excel. What we discovered is that organizations must become more agile. It’s imperative that organizations reset their strategy, processes and train their people in new methods and approaches that will enable rapid responses to market and world changes. Today I’ll introduce Finance’s role in Post Pandemic Planning: Why it is Imperative that You Reset your Strategy, Processes, and People.
A more detailed discussion will take place on Wednesday Oct 27, 2021 at noon eastern where Heather Cole, President of Lodestar Solutions is teaming up with Financial Executives International for a webinar. Registration required and CPE credit available.
The Planning Process is Broken
Strategic Plans are Not Communicated
For the last 10 years while I have been running seminars, and training classes I always ask the question, “How many of you can clearly articulate the strategic goals of your organization?” And I pause and look for a show of hands. Guess how many hands go up? On average it’s less than 4% of my session attendees. But the scary part is these are people whose job it is to deliver data, analytic and planning solutions to their organizations. So, if the people creating and administering the business intelligence solutions and planning template don’t know the strategic goals, how are they expected to give the executives what they need?
Try this test. Contact a few co-workers and ask them to articulate the strategic goals of the company.
For some organizations the executives struggle to find time to even create the strategic goals and plans. This will be a topic of another blog. But for now, we have established there’s a communication problem.
Reference Point: Here’s an interesting blog by Gartner, Reset your Business Strategy in Co-Vid 19 Recovery.
Operational Plan Not Measuring What Matters
The operational plan, the process of planning strategic goals and objectives to technical goals and objectives. The goal of the operational plan is to improve the day-to-day actions and processes of your business. For many organizations what they need to focus on daily is very different than it was two years ago. However, many are still using the same templates. If you have not paused and examined what is important to daily success in the Post Pandemic world and determined how the measure what matters, you may find that your teams are not doing what you need them to do.
Reference Point: A great must read book is, Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth By John Doerr.
Finance teams are in a unique situation to add more value in the transformation to Post Pandemic Planning. They understand the value of the strategic plan, financial plan, and operational plan. They often work with every department on the budget process, and they understand what makes money for the organization. I believe that Finance must play a big role in becoming agile.
For more information on why Finance needs to step up, see our blog, Finance Must Lead Transformation Before Someone Else Does.
Agile Planning Processes
Post Pandemic Planning must include an agile planning process that can respond rapidly to market and world changes. But what exactly does that mean?
Post Pandemic Planning must include a connect between the strategic plan, the financial plan, and the operating plan. The process must be flexible enough to allow team members to do “what if” or scenario modeling. For years thought leaders like me have been emphasizing the need to have all the moving parts of planning connected. Marketing plans should lead to Sales plans, which connect with the production schedules and inventory. The sad reality is most companies don’t have connected plans. But the Pandemic has created shortages in staff and supplies we never anticipated. So, in Post Pandemic Planning we must connect all our plans.
How to Create a Connected Post Pandemic Planning Process
After over 25 years in the Performance Management and Planning industry, I have learned there are three areas that organizations faulter on that impede their success in creating a truly connected planning process.
People in Planning
They call this time the Great Resignation. Attracting and retaining talent is harder than ever. However, many organizations are just missing the clues when it comes to talent. In this Post Pandemic world people are reassessing what matters most, and they are finding it’s not money. Talented people are valuing family time, work flexibility, and thought-provoking work of MEANING! That’s correct they want to know their hard work is valuable.
I believe that finance team members that are part of the planning process need to be heard. Stop doing things the way you have always done them and think differently. Let the planning team members voice their ideas and implement change. The fastest way to start this is to host planning meetings that are facilitated by a skilled facilitator and update your processes.
Reference Point: Here’s an interesting article in Forbes, Facilitation Skills Might Just be The Best Kept Leadership Secret.
Train Your People
The second issue I see is that too many organizations fail to give their teams the proper training. They just think finance professionals should know everything about leveraging data and finding insights. Guess what? WE DON’T KNOW IT ALL! Investing in your finance teams, by teaching them advance analytics skills, agile methodologies and how to facilitate meetings is a huge step not just to have a more skilled team, but it will help you retain your people too.
Reference Point: Here’s an interesting blog by Indeed, The Importance of Training Employees: 11 Benefits.
Find the Right Tools
The third area that many organizations can improve on to see better results in their Post Pandemic Planning processes is to have the right tools. Don’t get me wrong, I love Excel. But organizations that are considered mid-market or larger should not be doing their planning processes in Excel. Excel is not scalable. Excel is extremely flexible but to do proper scenario modeling in Excel in a connected planning process, is very time consuming and difficult.
Your teams need the right tools. Not securing robust planning tools is like asking your lawn service to mow your acre lot with a weed whacker. You can do it, but you shouldn’t. You need the right tool for the job.
At Lodestar Solutions we believe IBM Planning Analytics (TM1) is a fabulously flexible, scalable tool for mid-market and larger organizations. For more information on Planning Analytics contact us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com. And watch our video on Planning Analytics on YouTube.
Today I just shared a few ideas on Finance’s role in Post Pandemic Planning: Why it is Imperative that You Reset your Strategy, Processes, and People. But this is just an introduction. On October 27th, 2021 at noon eastern I will be hosting a webinar with Financial Executives International were we dive deeper into this topic and provide proven methods for you so you can transform your Post Pandemic Planning processes to become agile, and responsive to change. You will discover the benefit of a connected planning process where Strategic plans are connected to Financial and Operating plans. Where various business units share information and create a collaborative planning process.
What you will learn in the webinar:
- What’s broken in the planning processes and how to fix them.
- How to empower your team in a way that not only retains talent but attracts it.
- Why the ability to rapidly model various scenarios is essential to resiliency.
About the author, Heather Cole is an Executive High-Performance Coach and Analytic Advisor who coaches US organizations how to leverage data and analytics, empower teams and experience substantial growth. Heather is a two-time bestselling author. Additionally, she is a founder of the global Artificial Intelligence Data and Analytics User Group (AIDAUG) and a board member of Financial Executives International.