Commercial revenue planning: Optimize and automate revenue performance
Continuously improving your revenue plans requires preserving what you’ve learned, building on it, and managing it adeptly. AI helps you do all three.
In my previous three installments, I covered the prime ingredients for accelerating topline revenue growth: understanding drivers of revenue performance, allocating investments to influence outcomes, and evaluating multiple scenarios in real-time. Now, imagine for a moment that you followed the recipe and worked in all three of these ingredients. What would be the worst possible outcome?
It wouldn’t be anything proceeding from your revenue plan or its execution, because you’ve already covered those areas thoroughly. You’ve mapped business drivers all the way down to your marketing and trade spend, run multiple scenarios, set yourself up to manage a range of contingencies, and have put the apparatus in place to drive the best outcome, no matter the situation.
The worst possible outcome would be, for all your efforts, that you end up learning nothing, and consequently must start all over the next time you visit your plan. Everyone wastes precious time and resources rethinking things that they’ve already thought through, and tracking down answers to the same questions that were elaborated on last time. Yet this is what many organizations do, and it’s not due to a lack of brainpower, technology, or even awareness of what they are doing.
Let’s reframe the question: What would be the best possible outcome? It would be that the next time around, you have learned something, and can apply what you learned so that you are in the best position to improve over your previous effort. The final ingredient, optimize and automate revenue performance, is the cherry on top that you need to do this.
Start your next planning journey in a better position than the one you just concluded
Think about how far you’ve come since starting your revenue planning journey in Anaplan. You created a solid foundation of lower-level planning, and connected it with your marketing and trade spend to understand how best to achieve your forecasts. That gave you a working model of your commercial revenue operations, which you then connected to key areas across the business that influence your forecast. All along the way, you asked challenging questions, brought in data sources that delivered important contributions to decision-making conversations, and broke down the barriers of collaboration between everyone with a stake in the revenue plan. You’ve performed scenarios, tested your ideas, and are able to pivot more easily than you have in the past. All the while, your planning solution has been saving all the information that you entered into it.
You’ve built a powerful revenue planning machine, made it run, and got results. Now, you want to take that success and continue to build off it each time you visit the revenue plan in the future. You’ve put a lot of collective intelligence into your planning, and it takes the help of the system to assure that you incorporate all the intelligence that resides within.
Intelligence is made, not born
Every component you’ve built into your revenue plan is also a precise sensor that tracks and collects data, thereby becoming a mechanism for making comparisons to actual performance or external marketplace data, predicting future outcomes, and recommending promotional mixes. It doesn’t take long to accumulate massive amounts of data, far more than humans can process.
AI-enrichment within Anaplan provides the computational horsepower needed to detect meaningful patterns, trends, and predictors from all that data, and to help determine how to manage those insights. Some parts of your plan will be running well, needing little ongoing attention, and therefore can be automated. Others will be found to be running acceptably, but could be performing better. Such areas require moderate levels of attention, and can be optimized. And, some areas will exhibit high variances or require significant attention, and therefore be treated as exceptions.
The more improvements you make to your plan, the more data you will accumulate, and the more complex your planning system becomes. AI excels at separating the noise out of your data, helping you determine the authentic phenomena that are driving your revenue metrics and your plan’s performance, and where to allocate your attention. AI capability gradually becomes an indispensable partner in amassing proprietary intelligence, not just about your business, but also your business space.
Anaplan’s reporting capabilities help you create your own recipes to fit the occasion
Even the best AI capabilities cannot discern what information is most relevant or salient to you and what action to take. Frequently, to understand what is happening in the present you need to retrieve snapshots of past information, and piece together a thread that leads to the present.
You need reporting capabilities that allow you to view a report from any point in time, no matter where you are in the planning process. That empowers both planners and managers to detect precise points or time ranges where expected results went awry, and facilitates quick and direct communication with people who can resolve the issue or provide more information.
Summing it all up: Create your own commercial revenue planning masterpiece
We’ve come full circle in discussing the four ingredients that make up the recipe for accelerating topline revenue growth. Let’s conclude with a few thoughts about how we have seen customers combine these ingredients to create a commercial revenue planning masterpiece, and how you can too.
- First, understand what drives revenue, then build your planning foundation and road map. That allows you to balance what is important to your business and to use Anaplan’s capabilities to model vital areas of your business.
- Then, once you have a working model, simple or complex, you’ll be able to track, analyze, and improve each step along the way as you iterate, whether weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, or however often you revisit your plan.
- Everything you do in Anaplan contributes to a body of knowledge that the platform technology analyzes, helping you automate lower-value tasks, continually optimize fundamental tasks, and prioritize exceptions. These are the three key mechanisms by which organizations supercharge their performance
- By doing all this, you are also making continuous improvement. Over time, you can do things better, with greater automation, raising the collective IQ of your organization. You are not preoccupied with the basics, but rather devote your valuable time to the exceptions, wherein new opportunities often lie. And, you are not worrying about how to do effective trade day in and day out, because you are already doing so, guided by the system and its AI capabilities, which are also products of your organization’s intelligence.