Planning needs to be more agile to deal with the circumstances we’re living in and through.

Your business needs the capability to revise plans and adjust assumptions to accommodate the impact of real-world events, in real-time.

But the typical finance function – or FP&A team – isn’t geared towards agile planning. Instead, it’s set up to operate within the traditional rhythm of annual planning, regular reforecasting and updates at the end of each period.

Requirements for agile planning

Being able to act with agility creates the need for several additional capabilities. These include:

If your team is still in survival mode, these aren’t easy to achieve.

Where do you start?

A planning process that is more robust, flexible and shock-resistant is likely to be built on core foundations.

Rolling, monthly forecast

Shorter planning cycles can boost accuracy and provide valuable operational insight. Rather than relying on what becomes a static projection, forecasting and evaluating variance more frequently will prove more valuable than executing a detailed, long-term plan in times of uncertainty. This holds true even if you are only addressing key line items.

Identify value-add activity

Which planning activities truly add value to the business, rather than just the finance function? If the wider business is starved of meaningful insight, cross-functional collaboration is missing from the planning process. If everyone across your organisation develops a better understanding of the key value drivers for the business, your position will be strengthened.

Accelerated digital capabilities

Technology has a vital part to play in easing the burden of target setting, scenario planning and plan iteration. The solutions that make accessing data and carrying out modelling easier increase the agility available to your business.

As we’ve seen over the last 18 months, technology also makes collaboration smoother when your team is split over multiple locations.

Achieving agile planning and analysis

As the needs of your business change, old ways of working are going to struggle to support your requirements. It’s the ideal time to evolve your processes to include more dynamic planning and analysis capability, a shift that is simpler than you might think.

With Digital Planning Analytics, you can immediately identify one particular area of the business you think would benefit the most from a more agile planning solution and start implementing dynamic forecasting there. At the same time, you can introduce more scenario planning to your approach. To start with this can be as straightforward as a worst-case view and a stretch version of the working forecast but you’ll quickly recognise the benefits of having access to this analysis.

If you’re starting from a position of using Excel almost exclusively for consolidation, reporting, planning and forecasting, applying the Planning Analytics tool to your FP&A activities will be absolutely worth the effort. Upgrading your FP&A capabilities with the end goal of profitable decision making in mind will deliver the capabilities required for agility.

You know there’s a problem that needs fixing – your existing planning process isn’t geared to the dynamic needs of the situation we’re in. If you’re ready to strengthen your FP&A activities to become more robust, agile and shock-resistant, get in touch today to discover how simple this evolution can be with Planning Analytics.

Simon Bradshaw

I have worked in finance and business systems development since 2001 and am an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. In 2016 I became a founding member of Spitfire Analytics, a consultancy specialising in IBM Planning Analytics. We are committed to building long-term relationships across all industries. I focus on my CPD through CIMA and IBM badges, ensuring I am always abreast of best practice and developments within the industry.


Working with Spitfire Analytics has resulted in the Finance Team becoming an integral part of the business. We are now able to provide analysis and strategic advice on the future direction of the business, rather than spending our time poring over endless spreadsheets.

- Lee Boyle, Finance Director (Engineering), NG Bailey

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