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Thinking Beyond the Annual Plan

Highlights from new Ventana Research eBook (Part 2)

Published By Carina Hatfield
Thinking Beyond the Annual Plan

In part one of this three part series, I discuss how Companies want to Improve Plan Accuracy and can do so with continuous planning – summarizing key takeaways from a new study and eBook by Ventana Research. This blog is about the need to think beyond the annual plan and to learn about the top four capabilities of planning software.

I want to start off by saying, I love spreadsheets. They definitely serve their purpose when it comes to calculating numbers, creating tables, and organizing data. While it is possible to manipulate data within spreadsheets to create various views, I have found they are ineffective when it comes to managing and consolidating the ever-changing, strategic plan – particularly for mid to large size organizations.

If you are relying on spreadsheets, this means that in order to understand the impact of just one single change in the portfolio, you must re-consolidate everything to understand its impact.

In real life, all projects are undergoing constant change and in order to get an updated forecast with new information, so you need to re-collect data from all project managers and program managers to re-consolidate an overall portfolio view. This could take weeks…and you must repeat every time you want an updated view of the portfolio.  Collect, consolidate, and analyze.  The longer the process, the more likely you’re analyzing outdated information.

According to Ventana Research projects and corporate initiatives often span multiple fiscal years, so it’s important to be able to extend planning beyond the annual budget – which makes sense. It’s not uncommon for many initiatives to begin and end in different fiscal years.

Thinking Beyond the Annual Plan eBook

Survey says:

  • 58% of those working in companies with 1,000 or more employees say that spreadsheets are a stumbling block in their planning process
  • 85% report more effective planning and better decision-making when they integrate operational and financial planning with long-range planning
  • 66% with integrated plans can respond with more agility to changing business environments
  • 49% who integrate current and longer-term planning are more able to explore a range of future scenarios

This research confirms the challenges organizations face with a focus on annual planning. Here are the recommendations:

  1. Address the challenge with the right technology: Since larger organizations are having more difficulty planning in spreadsheets, consider an alternative technologies that will support continuous planning (I recommend portfolio management with investment and capacity planning features).
  2. Make better business decisions together: Because organizations make better decisions when they can see operational (demand and resource capacity) with financials – the business needs to visualize the same information to make decisions.
  3. Adapt to change: When operations and finance have access to the same information, they can be flexible when it comes to change, not sidelined.
  4. Think beyond the annual plan: Extending your view beyond the annual plan, Finance and the business are able to consider opportunities for the future

Are you facing these challenges? Want to learn more about the study findings, download eBook, Improve Agility Through Continuous Planning. If you’re wondering how portfolio management can help with planning, download this solution brief The Planview Approach To Planning.

 Be that PMO


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Written by Carina Hatfield Director, Product Management

Carina Hatfield always has a plan. Throughout the years, she has improved her ability to respond and re-prioritize for new ideas and unplanned events. She followed her original plan of becoming a CPA going into budgeting, forecasting, and strategic planning until a new idea was prioritized and she took on the opportunity to join Planview. After six years of implementing Planview Enterprise to help organizations improve their strategic, forecasting, and planning processes, Carina has taken that experience and applied it to her role in Product Management.