Every company is rewiring itself to scale faster, respond better and adapt more effectively to a dynamic market environment. Becoming an agile organization is now the new mantra of the digital age.
But there is a disconnect.
Organizations are trained to be very good at optimizing at a department level. But when it comes to interdepartmental coordination and planning, they often stumble.
Part of the blame lies with the enterprise software. Many are designed for specific functions and roles, with different modules for different departments. Seldom do these tools allow collaboration across departments and easy sharing of insights.
“Siloed working is effective to a degree; to be a more effective organization, you need to have a holistic view that looks across the organization in a connected way,” said Karen Clarke, managing director, APAC, Anaplan.
Clarke likened today’s companies to a car. Having the best engine, steering wheel and tires is not going to help you if they work separately.
“You need to bring it together and help the driver make the best decisions,” she added.
This is what Anaplan is looking to achieve with their cloud-based planning tools.
Sanjay Saini, vice president, Supply Chain Transformation, Anaplan noted that the company is allowing its customers to work on “a single version of truth”, allowing different parts of the organization to access the same data set for their planning purposes.
It was how Circle K developed an accurate 18-month rolling forecast for current and future stock levels, while Del Monte aligned its supply chain with its finance planning to cut reaction times from five days to five minutes.
It is also vital for new developments in workforce planning and incentives planning where HR teams need to access different sets of data, said Clarke.
The biggest hurdle to connected planning or workflow is the prevalent use of spreadsheets to communicate corporate goals and conduct forecasting.
“Most of the corporate systems use transactional data and historical data for planning within each department. The planners then take this data and put it on a spreadsheet for further modeling. Communication across departments is then done by sharing these spreadsheets with decision makers managing huge workbooks,” said Clarke.
The reason for the prevalent use of spreadsheets begins at the universities.
“When you go to universities and business schools, you see students using spreadsheets for modeling and emulating scenarios. It is an easily available tool but is not designed for collaboration or supporting an agile organization,” she said.
Companies like Anaplan are looking to address this disconnect with education. Programs like University Connect program offer students to familiarize themselves with planning tools and understand the value of connected planning, she added.
Connected planning will become crucial as companies tackle a dynamic market that is talent starved. Optimizing incentives, finetuning workforces and aligning HR processes with organizational goals will be vital.
Saini also noted that collaborative planning is becoming important, where customers and suppliers work together to develop operational and strategic plans.
“This will not be possible if the tools that they are using are not designed for collaboration and use across different departments,” he said.