Collaborative Enterprise Planning: Reality or Utopia?

By Nilly Essaides
August 23, 2018

On the August 7 broadcast of the Financial Excellence with Game Changers radio show, I joined host Bonnie Graham and panelists Yuval Atsmon, senior VP at Globality, and Pras Chatterjee, senior director of Product Marketing for Enterprise Performance Management at SAP, to discuss the reality and the future of collaborative enterprise planning.

The planning process has never been more critical. The Hackett Group data shows that top-performing FP&A organizations deliver higher net and gross margins to the enterprise. They help their companies outperform the industry average in the stock market.

Digital transformation, along with globalization and market volatility, paint a more complicated landscape for companies to navigate in order to thrive. Against this backdrop, effective planning is imperative. Companies must be able to anticipate changes in their markets and shifts in customer demands.

The Hackett Group research shows that the top-performing FP&A functions work closely with other functions and with operations. They combine the financial, operational, and functional planning processes and sync calendars to identify targets and make smarter resource-allocation decisions.

Collaborative enterprise planning is primarily orchestrated by FP&A; it meshes the planning activities across the company, breaking functional silos and coordinating planning calendars. It involves reaching outside the confines of the financial plan to incorporate the expectations of others.

“The CFO may be involved in discrete business units, but also needs to optimize results for the organization as a whole,” said Yuval Atsmon, senior vice president at Globality. Atsmon believes that collaborative enterprise planning is an achievable target, and that while it involves the sharing of enterprise-wide data, it must also include effective communications across business and functional silos.

The adoption of collaborative enterprise planning can help organizations overcome the challenges of a more volatile business environment, according to SAP’s Pras Chatterjee. In many organizations, every function and business are doing their own allocation analysis. Sales is doing sales compensation planning. Marketing is doing analysis on marketing expenses. Collaborative enterprise planning is a matter of bringing it all together to provide better insight into process and project performance, while also enabling the ability to make immediate course corrections.

Atsmon calls this “dynamic allocation.” Greater insight allows CFOs and other senior executives to react quickly when business conditions change. Recent research shows that most companies reallocate a very small percentage of their budget every year. The same research found that organizations that reallocate 10% of their resources significantly outperform those that are timid about making changes.

Collaborative planning – 2025

While the percentage of organizations that practice collaborative enterprise planning effectively is still small, as finance and senior leaders become more comfortable with emerging technologies and gain greater experience in working with other parts of the company, we expect the practice to become more pervasive. There’s much written and said today about the role of finance as a strategic partner. To truly “own” this description, finance must spearhead the integration of planning processes. Lack of technology is no longer an excuse. Atsmon believes that technology will change more than we estimate. “The tipping points in technology will completely transform the planning process,” he said.