IBM Planning Analytics Explained

IBM Planning Analytics Explained

As the name suggests, IBM’s enterprise performance management tool integrates two elements: planning and analytics. It is designed to help you finish your budgeting faster, forecast more accurately and plan with confidence.

As a start, it can help you transform your entire planning cycle, automate your budgeting and forecasting processes. No matter how complex your operations, IBM PA makes it simple to get an overview of financial performance and quickly build the reports you need within the platform.

On the analysis side, this AI-infused solution gives you the ability to dive deep into your data, acquire insights quickly and adjust plans in real time, even in the face of growing data complexity.

Should we adopt IBM Planning Analytics in 2021? Questions to ask…

Are we being needlessly held back by legacy planning tools?

According to BARC’s latest BI survey, a sizeable minority (40%) of enterprises continue to use Excel for planning. In our recent Efficiency in Finance report we produced with Accountancy Age, we asked finance professionals about how their use of excel will change in the future. We found that the majority of CFO’s planned to reduce their reliance on Excel by April 2022.

There is undoubtedly a strong ‘better the devil you know’ element in play here. Especially in the finance team, many people have grown up using Excel; they are comfortable with it and can be resistant to change.

But all of this ignores the practical challenges of using Excel as your primary planning tool. Not least; there’s the heavy reliance on error-prone manual processes, it can be tough to keep track of multiple standalone spreadsheets, while real-time collaboration is near on impossible.

One of the biggest factors in favour of IBM Planning Analytics is that it enables you to keep the “best bits” of spreadsheets, while eliminating the negatives. Users can still work in a cell-oriented way, so it looks and feels familiar. But unlike with Excel, if any user makes a change, everyone sees the result instantly, enabling coordinated, real-time collaboration.

IBM’s all-new Guided Planning function makes it even easier to coordinate the most complex enterprise plans and budgets. Accessed via the dashboard, it enables managers to quickly build their own multi-step, multi-participant plan, delegate tasks, while maintaining oversight across the entire process.

Can we put data to work from across the organisation? 

On average, 73% of company data goes unused for planning and analytics purposes. This is often because organisations lack the ability to harness disparate data sources. Data remains siloed or trapped within specific applications, which means missing out on the opportunity to create accurate, multidimensional plans.

IBM Planning Analytics gives you the ability to integrate and analyse both internal and external data sources, including data from enterprise resource planning (ERP) apps, general ledger (GL) data and business intelligence (BI) sources.