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Author's profile photo Steve Christos

Planning is Music to My Ears


Photo by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash

Back in 1964, the cassette tape was released in the United States leading to the mobility of music outside of the home.  Records with their pristine sound and ability to jump to a specific song were long the center of the entertainment world in living rooms across the world.  But it was just not possible to take that music with you on the go.  Alas, the cassette solved that problem.  Because of its compact size and the ingenuity of new devices such as the Sony Walkman, music went wherever we went.  The trade off, however, was we lost the ability to jump right to a specific song.


So, the industry decided to run focus groups, surveys, and other means to solicit feedback.  Over and over, they heard the same thing.  With two sides, fast-forwarding to a specific song was a lot of trial and error.  Based on this feedback of what customers wanted, the industry designed a new format specific to this feedback it received… the 8-track.  I think we all know how that turned out.  The point of this?  Customers don’t always know what they want because of their frame of reference.


We’re noticing a similar mindset in today’s FP&A world.  Many organizations are still running these critical processes in spreadsheets and what they are asking for is more functionality in these tools.  Sound familiar?  With Excel as a frame of reference, it’s hard for these hard-core users to visualize what a modern, collaborative planning platform looks like.  As the last 20 months or so have showed us, “that’s how we’ve always done it” will not drive your company to a more robust, intelligent enterprise.


Planning has been pushed to the forefront of digital transformation and is more important than ever.  Spreadsheets will tell you where you are but provides limited insight into where you need to go.  You’ll need a platform that can:


  1. Don’t forget the “A” –   Let’s face it, planners live in a tabular world.  But that does not mean everyone else in your organization does.  FP&A stands for Financial Planning & Analysis.  Often, analysis falls by the wayside mostly because spreadsheets cannot inherently provide the insights to not only where you are today, but as well how you got there.  SAP Analytics Cloud is an analytics AND planning platform that accomplishes this without the overhead.  AI features such as Smart Insights and a Natural Language Search allow users to quickly and easily self-serve their analytical needs.  Once we know how we got here, we can ascertain the best path forward.
  2. Leverage the data you have – Predictive capabilities are no longer science fiction. Leveraging the predictive forecasting in SAP Analytics Cloud takes advantage of the vast amount of data you have in the system to assist in planning the path forward.  What you get is a completely unbiased vision into what your future can be that is data-driven.  Use this capability to seed your strategic plan, to centrally forecast costs components and even as a gut-check what your own analysis tells you.  Suddenly, forecasting more often is no longer an unnecessary burden.
  3. Work together – Nothing deflates a group planning effort more than different versions of the truth.  Be honest, have you ever walked into a meeting, spreadsheet in hand, and had someone have the same spreadsheet with different numbers?  I thought so.  A unified platform allows for continuous work from the same set of numbers.  And it’s not just about a single source of truth, why take the commentary out from the platform?  The context regarding the numbers should be front and center, not buried in an email or spreadsheet comment that struggle to find.  SAP Analytics Cloud’s built in collaboration allows for notifications, sharing of versions and commenting all right next to the numbers they are referring too.

So the next time you get push back for trying to bring the planning process to the forefront of your strategic discussions, remember that people don’t always know what they want.  They frame their decisions based on they already know.  But a better spreadsheet tool will go the way of the 8-track.  You can’t imagine a streaming service for music if you don’t know it exists.  So let SAP Analytics Cloud drive your organization with a more robust and collaborative planning platform.  Now that is music to my ears.

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