There are many planning tools today in the market but most enterprises find them lacking in meeting their need for a robust planning system that provides-
- In-depth domain knowledge built around the planning arena
- Well defined planning process and procedures
- Absolute Control and complete tracking
- Required amount of flexibility to suit the business specific needs
- Well integrated with other Transactional, Analytical and Peer systems
- Improved Efficiency, Productivity and Performance
Planning tools of today provide only a framework that facilitates the customer to build their own models. This forces the customer to create silo solutions and thereby leads to more complexity in integrating with other systems and also effectively performing their jobs.
Moreover, if we notice closely, all planning solutions today mandatorily depend on Excel as interface for the end user. The more commonly used reason for this is that the end user has been using excel as the planning tool and is comfortable with the interface. Hence, all the planning tools continue to provide this so called facility/flexibility.
It is true that the Excel act as the contrivance to penetrate the entire planning community (including finance and non-finance) and also give the feeling of so called FLEXIBILITY (read as liberty) .
Providing FLEXIBILITY (read as freedom) is important but at the same time too much flexibility creates more complexity in a cohesive/collaborative environment.
But does one realize that instead of flexibility, Excel acts as a serious limitation to our planning solutions. This is because our planning tools are built around Excel and hence has to find ways and means to overcome the limitations of excel to provide any planning specific requirements that cannot be met by Excel. In fact, technical limitations of Excel forces us to add more add-on tools – an ideal example would be a dashboard tool added on to an Excel based planning system.
As such, can we say that the time has come for a change from the conventional school of thought – that a planning system should be based on excel – and bring in innovation in the user experience over our planning solution?
May be, the next phase of application invention in the planning area should be an Enterprise Planning Application (EPA) that provides an agile planning system like our dear old ERP.