Five Steps to Improve Your Competitive Advantage with Integrated Business Planning

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Competitive advantage is closely associated with timely action. Many scenarios come to mind – tennis matches, chess games, bargains in the markets. Currently, the economic recovery is gaining momentum in the region and business leaders are trying to keep up with consumer sentiment, industry trends and a wide range of other data points. which are the key to their prosperity. Today, traditional business planning can no longer meet the modern standards required to deliver tangible competitive advantage. However, Integrated Business Planning (IBP) offers an interesting opportunity. It is a cross-functional discipline that unites the plans of separate business units into a single coordinated strategy. It promotes greater transparency and up-to-the-minute relevance, leading to improved data quality and visibility, which offers many ways to increase value.

Here are the best practice steps for a successful IBP that consider the impact it will have on people, processes, and the technology ecosystem.

Know your endgame
Roadmaps, by definition, have destinations. But in business planning, a vague destination can mean your roadmap is a highway to nowhere. Stakeholders must determine where they want to be, what they want to do and how they want to do it before embarking on the adventure. A “clearly defined strategy” may be a business cliche, but cliches are cliches for a reason.

Collaborate
Bringing together all relevant domain experts is practical and necessary if an organization is to successfully restructure and achieve its stated financial goals. Collaboration should happen early and often, as it has the potential to identify gaps in requirements that can be filled more easily early in the change management process. Consider the future. Forecasts don’t have to be the nebulous stuff of market watchers. Many industry developments are well telegraphed and allow planners to make the right choices to ensure they align with upheavals big and small. Having as wide a range of subject matter experts as possible at hand during the planning process means that an organization is more likely to be aware of approaching crises and better able to compose reliable forecasts. These accurate views will inform everything from supply chain management and warehousing to technology sourcing and even employee vacation schedules.

Measure, measure, measure
Transparent communication of everything about the company, its current operations, budgets and ambitions is essential in an IBP environment. Well-defined, cross-departmental KPIs will allow all stakeholders to see the way forward and align their actions to the common goal. A unified language understandable by all also leads to greater confidence in the data, since all decision makers receive the same multi-angle view of the organization.

Take advantage of technology
Even with the best of wills, aging legacy technology systems can fail to create rich, unified views of business performance. Modern software solutions known as enterprise performance management are ideal for providing integrated business planning. It can integrate with the workflows of multiple departments and directly facilitate collaboration and transparency, paving the way for a culture change that benefits operational efficiency, increased planning accuracy, productivity and a range of other trade measures.

Andreas Simon is Director – MEA Sales at Jedox

Read: Here’s how you can run your business like an F1 race car

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