Few people would make a case against FP&A as a valuable activity within a business.

However, most of those involved in the process would acknowledge the difficulties and challenges which are presented; managing complex and dynamic scenarios involving thousands of input variables and calculations can cause serious pain for a finance team.

Once in place, this software doesn’t just ease the pain for the finance team. Using IBM® Planning Analytics to improve efficiency, speed and flexibility within your organisation has manifold positive outcomes. Being able to provide more accurate answers, in less time, to questions that require complex analysis delivers valuable insight and drives better business.

  • Faster decisions – IBM® Planning Analytics enables your organisation to have a single source of truth, with built-in integration to a range of leading software from SAP, Oracle and other IBM analytics tools. Shorter planning cycles enable your organisation to react to opportunities and threats as they emerge and so builds more confidence in your processes.
  • Efficient collaboration – Coordinating budgeting activity is made much easier and more efficient by integrated workflow features. This creates the opportunity to align top-down budgeting with bottom-up planning.
  • Agile planning – It is incredibly easy to perform what-if planning for multiple scenarios using the sandboxing facility within the software. Variables can be quickly manipulated to allow all participants to remain informed with a clearer vision of potential outcomes and how best to work to achieve business goals.

A Forrester Total Economic Impact Study, has quantified these benefits of implementing Planning Analytics as follows:

  • 63% reduction in time needed to complete the annual budgeting cycle.
  • 80% faster processing of planning data.
  • 70% fewer hours required to complete forecasting cycles.
  • Cost savings from retiring and replacing legacy planning solutions. (An average of $689,000 over three years.)

Unfortunately, many of the organisations who would most benefit from using this software to power more profitable decision making have a mistaken perception that cost will be a barrier for them.

The reality is that the reliability, scalability and power of Planning Analytics doesn’t have to be expensive. The idea that payback would take years is unfounded, material benefits can be realised within months and, according to the study mentioned above, the average payback period is only 14 months.

The beauty of the solution is:

  • Planning Analytics can be deployed with no change or interruption to existing systems. It pulls the data into its own environment and so continuity is achieved across all processes.
  • Implementation is fast, whereas it can take weeks to create truly valuable FP&A models within a spreadsheet-based system.
  • It is scalable. Planning Analytics can be used to target an initial area of immediate benefit and then, once rewards have been reaped, the finance team can move on to the next area.
  • Licence costs are smaller than many realise. An added benefit of working with expert consultants who can ensure a tight definition around your targeted solution is the minimisation of analysis and development costs.

Moving from spreadsheet-based budgeting and forecasting will immediately equip you with a bigger picture from which to make decisions. Through improving your decision making around cash flow; supply chain and supplier management; sales and distribution; and stock flow you will quickly improve your profitability and cover the initial costs of the solution.

If you are considering moving to Planning Analytics, we will work with you to produce a report forecasting your likely return on investment from the software to give you a personalised view of the benefits for your business. If you’d like to talk through costs or any other considerations around implementing Planning Analytics, contact us today.

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.


Spitfire have a depth of understanding not only in Cognos/TM1 technologies, but also in finance and accounting. It is this combination of expertise and their ability to get to the heart of business problems that has resulted in such confidence in their delivery and capabilities. The insight and value-add they have brought is evident.

- Peter Smith, Head of Solution Delivery, Edrington

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