Key Criteria For Effective Processes
Planning is typically a dreaded activity, often involving inefficient convolutes of spreadsheets and related maintenance nightmares. Managility specialises in the implementation of effective solutions to run as much as possible automated, responsive processes using the technologies best suited to our client’s needs.
Below we have compiled ten success factors that were tested and successfully applied in over fifteen years at hundreds of client’s projects across the globe:
1. Push Button Setup: On-Premise or in the Cloud
The core framework of a planning solutions needs to be available for an immediate start without complex installations and special hardware requirements.
We have had great experiences with preconfigured virtual machines, tailored to the client’s specific needs (e.g. in regards to the required platform components). With those it those it should be easy to deploy them in the internal network or host them securely as a cloud based solution at the preferred location and jurisdiction of the client.
With the Managility Fast Start program, we guarantee an initial version of an effective planning process that incorporates your requirements based on this approach.
2. Simple Integration of Source System
A key component in any planning system is the integration of source systems to obtain comparison data, structures and hierarchies. The chosen solution should offer a broad selection of standard connectors that enable the integration of data and structures with either a native connector the relevant sources (e.g. ERP systems like SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.), relational databases and at a minimum flexible text format import functionalities. The process should preferably empower the business users directly and provide them with options to implement changes or new models using simple drag and drop interfaces.
3. Flexible Modelling and Maintenance
In our experience of implementing planning systems for more than 15 years one of the key factors of a success is the ability for business users to modify structures to changing needs and extend existing business models independently of the used sources systems (conceptual modelling)
An effective solution needs to enable to easily simulate the introduction of a new product in an existing dimension, or the acquisition of a company in the organisational hierarchy without reliance on external or specialised IT resources.
4. Comprehensive Security and Compliance
It’s no surprise that security and compliance are an absolute must for planning systems. Managility focuses on four aspects:
a. Security of the infrastructure: through encryption mechanisms at all data transfers, and state of the art data storage platforms.
b. Integration into existing authentication standards like active directory and LDAP avoiding the need to manage users separately in a planning system.
c. The safety mechanisms around budgeting system data for specific users. Key criteria here are cell-based security (i.e., rights can be precisely defined on any combination; for example, User A is allowed to modify data for only one product group in a specific planning scenario) that is in place independently of whatever front end is used e.g. web browser, Excel, mobile.
d. Functional role based access: For every functional object in the system it should be possible to define the specific access rights e.g. user is able to write global calculations, has access to special analytical methods, etc.
5. Top-down, Bottom-up
An effective planning process needs to combine easy data collection on a detailed level, as well as simple top-down changes with flexible allocation mechanisms. This process should preferably occur in real time, so when the user enters a figure on a detailed level, they can immediately view the effects on the aggregate level as well (and vice versa – where an adaptation on a top level would immediately reflect changes on their children).
6. Best Practice Planning Logic Library
Avoid re-inventing the wheel and ensure that your provider of planning software has comprehensive experience and preferably already implemented a similar requirement.
At Managility we developed an extensive library of business process methodologies that effectively handle calculation and workflow requirements for specific aspects. These cover a wide array of subjects, from complex HR planning, CAPEX planning, and sales budgeting processes to strategic driver-based budgeting approaches.
7. Horses for Courses: Interchangeable Fronts End (Web,Excel,Mobile)
In typical planning scenarios, requirements for users vary dramatically — from simple completion of data entry forms to complex ad hoc analysis and modelling. We recommend to consider solutions that equally run within web browsers, offer a bi-directional integration into Excel where users can read/ write and directly interact and model with data (as opposed to just an offline data dump into spreadsheets), and specialised mobile device applications.
8. Tailored Workflows
More complex budgeting processes require the easy management of workflow scenarios within the process. Our recommendation is to use platforms that enable flexible and simple setup, as well as execution of workflows (e.g., for approval processes, alerts and exception handling).
Despite wide range of existing functionalities in various platforms, often features are required that are not part of the offering. We recommend working with platforms that are extensible and enable the integration of third party web services like Google Maps, online FX rates and other web services respectively offer the customisation of existing features via API access or macros.
10. Support for Advanced Predictive Analytics (e.g. R-Libraries)
The integration of advanced statistical and data mining functions has become a critical feature of planning and budgeting systems. Your chosen solution should offer the integration of respective calculation logic – respectively, the use of standards like R-Libraries (e.g., the easy application of different forecasting methods or the integration of choice modelling metrics for the prediction of customer behaviour).