As the “go-to” strategic advisor to the lines of business and key functions, Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) teams are a natural choice to lead the long-range planning process. Why? Simply put, no other team, with the exception of the CFO and CEO, has the vantage point and capability to understand how detailed operational plans and metrics impact financial plans and forecasts.
As a strategic blueprint for organizational growth, long-range planning helps prioritize strategic initiatives such as M&A activities, new product investments, manufacturing optimization and capital sourcing – all of which are vital to achieving financial goals.
How can FP&A teams maximize the value of the long-range planning process? Like most initiatives in corporate finance, effective planning processes cannot be finance-only exercises. They must align finance and operations and bring value to line-of-business leaders. Here are a few critical activities to consider for long-range planning:
Typically, the long-range planning process spans anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks for large, sophisticated organizations. This time frame gives the line-of-business and corporate teams time to create multiple scenarios, analyze key assumptions and collaborate. CFOs and corporate FP&A teams should then bring the entire team together to review final financial and business plans prior to the review with the board of directors and/or investors.
Unfortunately, many organizations still rely on Excel to manage the long-range planning process. Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis teams spend hours creating templates, distributing them and then rolling them up. Why? Because they have no other choice – at least not if they want their fragmented models to work right.
Figure 1: Excel Long-Range P&L Plan
Excel and point solutions are also widely used to capture, review and analyze detailed operational assumptions and integrated business plans. This reliance often results in a fragmented mess of additional data and offline files – each containing complex calculations and inter-linked schedules that offer little traceability to financial plans.
With each scenario and iteration, it’s easy to get lost in the minutia of non-value tasks “just to get the job done,” which runs completely counter to the process. After all, isn’t the long-range planning process THE time to think bigger?
A Modern Platform for Long-Range Planning
OneStream supports line-of-business and corporate finance teams in managing the long-range planning process with the agility and scalability required to align the organization. And with built-in capabilities for predictive forecasting, reporting, and analytics OneStream’s unified platform streamlines planning and reporting and increases alignment between finance and operations – all while providing the flexibility to support various scenario planning and sensitivity analyses. OneStream’s Long-Range Planning solution includes the following and more:
Figure 2: OneStream’s Predictive Analytics Solution
Agility and Scale = 100% Customer Success
With the scale and agility to manage the entire long-range planning process, FP&A teams are eliminating the low-value tasks and complexities of managing spreadsheets and fragmented tools. This shift gives finance leaders the time they need to focus on the strategic initiatives and value creation activities involved in long-range planning. That freedom is exactly why leaders at the world’s most sophisticated organizations, such as Guardian Industries and The Carlyle Group, are turning to OneStream as the digital finance foundation for their Financial Planning & Analysis teams.
And as a unified solution for financial close, reporting and budgeting, planning & forecasting, OneStream provides a unique opportunity to unify long-range plans with all other core finance processes. Here are just a few additional benefits of aligning long-range plans with actual results and budgets:
To learn more about how OneStream unifies long-range planning across the Office of Finance and beyond, download our solution brief here.