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Planning in general

Imagine that you wanted to get an overview of the various planning applications and planning tools. You would quickly realize, that there are endless planning applications and an infinite number of planning applications from different suppliers in the market.

  • But why are there so many planning applications and so many planning tools?
  • Is this complexity justified at all?
  • Are there really so many different planning applications and do I need the same number of planning tools?

Let´s have a look the WIKIPEDIA definition of planning:

Planning is the process of thinking about and organizing the activities required to achieve a desired goal. It involves the creation and maintenance of a plan, such as psychological aspects that require conceptual skills. There are even a couple of tests to measure someone’s capability of planning well. As such, planning is a fundamental property of intelligent behavior.

Also, planning has a specific process and is necessary for multiple occupations (particularly in fields such as management, business, etc.). In each field there are different types of plans that help companies achieve efficiency and effectiveness. An important, albeit often ignored aspect of planning, is the relationship it holds to forecasting. Forecasting can be described as predicting what the future will look like, whereas planning predicts what the future should look like for multiple scenarios. Planning combines forecasting with preparation of scenarios and how to react to them. Planning is one of the most important project management and time management techniques. Planning is preparing a sequence of action steps to achieve some specific goal. If a person does it effectively, he can reduce much the necessary time and effort of achieving the goal. A plan is like a map. When following a plan, he can always see how much he has progressed towards his project goal and how far he is from his destination. So will get an understanding of the different requirements, the complexity, and the challenges which planning provides.

I will pick a few of these statements and I will try to translate the statements into the requirements of our business users

1 …planning is a process… If you want to support processes, we need a workflow
2 …is necessary for multiple occupations There are different user groups involved: for example, we need a flexible and customer-specific security concept
3 ..the relationship it holds to forecasting… Planning and forecasting… there should be no borderline between planning and forecasting
4 … for multiple scenarios… A planning application should support different planning scenarios (such as best case, worst case)
5 …most important project management and time management techniques… Time is expensive… and we need to spend time on implementation, maintenance and usage in a very optimized way
6 …he can always see how much he has progressed towards his project goal and how far he is from his… The collection or calculation of plan values is one of the most important tasks. But plan values are only useful in a comparison to actual values.

 

But how can we cover these diverse requirements?

  • Should we introduce and maintain different tools?
  • Can we use one common tool for every planning application?
  • And how can we integrate the different plans into one common platform

At the end of the day, an important goal of planning is the optimized usage of my resources. And that is one reason to integrate all plans into one common planning platform …

So we will get many questions from customers and I would like to explain the reason, why SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation can cover all your business.

Planning today

If we are talking with our customers today, we often find that they use the current planning architecture in their planning landscape.Planning in general is very often not organized as a corporate-wide or enterprise-wide topic. Every department, organization unit or subsidiary can build their own business-case-specific planning application. Using this approach, they can provide the best tailored planning application to their business user. In addition to this, they have the freedom to select the planning tool and software vendor, which fits their requirements in the best way. Involvement, guidance or consulting from the IT department is not required or is not desired.

This process could be a good approach to find out the best tool for a small number of planning applications. But you need to follow the same process for every software evaluation and at the end of the day, you will have many, many tools in your IT landscape.

In Figure 1, you can see an example of this type of planning landscape. Different colors help illustrate that different planning tools are involved. In addition, there is no integration between the sales plan and demand plan.

If you want to implement stand-alone planning solutions, you should compare the advantages with the possible risks or challenges:

Advantages could be:

  • Freedom for business user, freedom for solution owner
  • Flexibility: the business user can change the planning model without IT support
  • The focus is only on the solution to be implemented
  • No integration, less complexity
  • No hurdles due corporate requirements
  • Own, independent security concept
  • I only need to upgrade we often find that they use the current planning architecture.my own planning application

Risks could be:

DATA

  • Can we ensure that we can use the best data quality for our planning application??
  • Can we use real-time information for our planning applications?
  • Can we use all the available data in our internal IT systems?
  • How can we use the outcome from Sales Planning in the Demand Planning solution (in real-time) for example?

USER MANAGEMENT and SECURITY

  • Security is one of the he most important requirements
  • Do we have all planning applications aligned with the corporate security concept?
  • If we want to build small, decoupled department solutions and deep integrated planning applications, a cascading solution would be helpful

INTEGRATION

  • How does our planning application fit into a Data Warehousing Strategy
  • How can we bring out data into ACTION (or operational planning)?
    • How can we re-use my planning information in an ERP system
  • Can we integrate information from the HCM plan and the COSTCENTER plan?
  • ….

LIEFECYCLE MANAGEMENT

  • Do we have a common lifecycle management or do we have a separate lifecycle for every planning solution?
  • How can we change the data model?
  • How can we change the templates?
    • Do we have global or local mechanisms?
    • Do we prepare new templates for every year or do we have any automatisms?
    • How do we handle master data updates or hierarchy changes?

TRAINING

  • Do we need to educate the same end-user groups for different planning tools?

As I already mentioned, the topic planning is very diverse and I am not able to show every advantage or disadvantage for every planning philosophy. Thus I only want to repeat arguments, which we hear most frequently.


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1 Comment

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  1. Vadim Kalinin

    In general there is only one application that can support any planning scenario and any calculation logic – MS Excel 🙂 The advantage of BPC is that you can perform flexible part of calculations in Excel and stable part in BPC having final results in BPC cubes. If some scenario becomes stable the logic can be implemented in BPC later.

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