What Adaptive Insights Has Learned About Planning From Helping Thousands of Customers

We couldn’t be more excited about the Adaptive Insights team joining Workday—in addition to a great product, the Adaptive Insights crew brings extensive planning experience and insights from working with more than 4,000 organizations. So, we asked them to share their wisdom on planning: why it’s critical, how it can help drive the business forward, and how it enables the finance organization to become the strategic partner it deserves to be.

Why Planning Matters

“Every leader knows that success is no accident—you have to plan for it,” writes Adaptive Insights CEO Tom Bogan in his “Everybody Plans” blog. “You need to surface insights from what’s happening in your business so you can better anticipate what will happen in the future.”

While plans may be complicated, the planning process itself doesn’t have to be. Bogan shares four fundamental truths about modern planning gleaned from helping customers:

  • The best plans involve the people closest to the day-to-day business. The people who are immersed in the market and your ongoing operations will have the best insights into solving their own business problems.
  • It should be easy to plan and make decisions quickly. Planning and decision-making shouldn’t be so hard. If it’s too difficult or too slow—too static—not enough people will want or be able to engage in the process.
  • Reporting and analytics are essential to planning and decision-making. For people to make timely and informed decisions, capabilities like easy reporting and intuitive analytics aren’t nice to have, they’re indispensable.
  • Finance is in the best position to orchestrate the corporate plan. While functional teams create their own independent models and plans that together form a comprehensive enterprise-wide model and plan, finance is the organization best-suited to provide strategic oversight and coordination.

With the right plan, a business is much better at adapting to change and letting data drive the decision-making process. With those truths in mind, here are a few other insights on planning, and how to turn it from a chore into a strategic tool.

Planning Bridges Strategy and Execution

For a plan to be successful, it can’t just involve the executive team or the finance organization, and it needs to provide a holistic view of the business that people can use to make decisions.

A plan turns strategic objectives into action. It explains where to deploy people, money, and resources—and it surfaces insights during execution so your models and forecasts can adjust to new realities. Doing this ensures that you’ve got an advantage over competitors who are stuck implementing manual, static plans that are obsolete as soon as they’re done.

Planning Needs to be Active

Since the world isn’t going to stand still, the old approach of creating a single annual plan doesn’t work any longer (if it ever did). Planning needs to be ongoing. As operational data flows in, a plan needs to remain active, allowing for new scenarios to be modeled quickly and easily. Adaptive Insights calls this active planning—where planning is continuous, collaborative, and comprehensive.

Active planning “breaks the digital concrete” of static plans and puts FP&A teams in a position where they can answer the questions the business wants to ask.

The old world of spreadsheets and legacy systems yielded an annual plan that was obsolete before it was put into motion, and painful to update. With the right approach and tools, the finance team moves from endlessly trying to keep a manual, static plan up-to-date to a strategic advisor that supports business decisions. It’s dynamic and agile, just like your business.

Active planning “breaks the digital concrete” of static plans and puts financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams in a position where they can answer the questions the business wants to ask: What happens if we add more people to this team instead of that one? What’s the impact of this investment? What happens if our product line grows by this amount?

Planning should empower people to do their best work. That’s the ethos that active planning is built upon. It’s the idea that because everybody plans, planning should be easy for everybody. And that businesses should run on insight, not instinct.

Into the Future

We’re excited that the Adaptive Insights team is on board to share their knowledge with customers of all sizes. In his blog “This Is Just the Beginning,” Bogan writes something that we wholeheartedly agree with and think bears repeating: “Now that we’re a Workday company, we’re not only preserving our relevance. We’re putting it into overdrive. And we can’t wait for you to see where we’ll take planning next.”