Business is all about managing trade-offs. Yet Ventana Research finds that 58 percent of surveyed companies either have a limited ability or are incapable of measuring the trade-offs of plans in which they are involved. Reconciling the “top down” targets with the “bottom up” planning, no matter what the size of company, is challenging in spreadsheets, particularly when running what if scenarios to manage trade-offs. This startling statistic was one of many revealed during a finance webinar conducted in partnership with Ventana Research. I was joined by Robert D. Kugel, CFA, SVP & Research Director of CFO and Business Research at Ventana Research, where we presented a view of the changing demands on the finance function and how technology can drive business-wide innovation to improve precision, speed, and collaboration in the planning process.
Robert set the stage for the webinar by discussing what digital transformation means in business today. He defined digital transformation as “rethinking and redefining core business processes to exploit the advantages of digital technology,” and explained that digital technology can drive a complete re-thinking of how companies can achieve their objectives, including business planning.
For example, a well-managed business planning process should set measureable objectives and quantify the resources required to achieve them. However, Robert pointed out that while companies do a lot of planning, the planning process is not always inclusive of all front line operations managers, can be challenging to coordinate, and can be inefficient with many spreadsheets depending on the size of the company. This results in business plans that are not precise. Ventana Research found that only 45 percent of companies stated that their plans are accurate or very accurate.