April 25, 2022

Flexible planning and holistic controlling are the basis for being able to react quickly to market developments and identify impulses for corporate management and development. Nevertheless, the digitalization of planning is faltering in many companies and is instead based on manual, time-consuming processes. In some cases, companies need several weeks “just” to implement sales or cost planning. The contradiction that on the one hand digital processes are supposed to increase efficiency and at the same time many companies still plan in Excel shows a strong need for action. If companies implement digital planning (and controlling), this can quickly become a competitive advantage.

Such competitive planning includes, among other things, forecasting. With these forecasts, companies can create realistic predictions for their planning based on existing data and thus react quickly to new market situations. A BARC study from 2018 already shows that predictive planning and forecasting provide more accurate forecasts than human planning and that their importance for companies has been increasing for some time.

Digital, user-friendly tools – core element of efficient planning and fast forecasts

Software solutions have long since ceased to be the tools of IT specialists alone but should be available to professionals from various departments to optimize their processes. For comprehensive planning such as financial, sales or HR planning, it is not enough to just record and juggle a few key figures. Detailed analyses that ensure long-term precise planning are necessary.

So-called integrated business planning (IBP), which focuses on integrating sales planning with overall planning, is crucial for the further development of modern planning concepts. However, such complex planning can hardly be implemented manually in companies. Working in different systems and searching for and keeping several (Excel) files together is time-consuming and cannot really be done manually without errors. Therefore, software solutions in which the data is centrally available and allows the user to reschedule in an uncomplicated and flexible way are essential today.

Forecasting is an important part of integrated business planning

In addition, forecasts enable companies to plan their budgets accurately within the planning process and to calculate them precisely. Then, by creating a budget at the beginning of the year and using forecasts to combine current actual metrics with budget figures during the current fiscal year, the respective department can quickly and accurately adjust and allocate the budget based on past data in the best possible way.

An advanced simulation-capable planning model thus makes it possible to obtain information about expected future deviations in planning at an early stage and based on this, to take the right measures to close possible gaps and adjust sales, cost, and investment budgets. In addition, forecasts are also always closely integrated into the reporting process and so, for example, with our extension Write!, target and actual comparisons can be reported and commented together within the company.

Closing Thoughts

Forecasting methods can be used to quickly identify past and future developments in the company based on data and to include them in planning. In this way, complex planning can be simplified, planning processes accelerated, the informative value of reports strengthened, and budgets made more concrete.

Are you still planning with Excel and not yet using forecasts? Find out here how you can save time and money with integrated business planning.


Thomas Gorr

Chapter Lead Write! @INFORM DataLab