The Importance of Continuous Planning

In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing environment, organizations need to re-evaluate their approach to planning. Traditional planning isn’t enough - organizations need something that better helps them achieve their goals and mission. More organizations have turned to continuous planning to better support their growth and adapt more easily to changes. The continuous planning process provides value to organizations across a variety of verticals; read on to find out how and what it is. 

What Is Continuous Planning? 

Traditional planning generally occurs at specific time periods, such as annually or bi-annually. With the continuous planning process, periods are marked by changes or shifts in the company, such as an internal or external event.  

An important aspect of continuous planning is the incorporation of the Agile and Lean methodologies, both of which have smaller and shorter planning cycles giving up on longer plans that fall out of relevancy before being completed. 

There are a few considerations to take into account before switching from traditional planning to a continuous planning process. This is a decision that needs holistic preparation, everyone in a company needs to be educated and informed on what changes continuous planning will bring. Those directly involved in planning should feel excited and look forward to the changes, but also feel ready and comfortable to take on any new challenges. Continuous planning can be especially beneficial to a company’s finance department, better supporting the team in their planning and decision-making. Below are examples of how Continuous Planning supports a company’s finance department.  

React Faster to Changes 

Continuous planning helps companies react faster to changes than they would be able to with traditional planning. Continuous planning allows plans to be more accurate and representative of the present, rather than the one perceived sometimes in the months before. Having up-to-date data is greatly important when deciding and preparing for changes. In 2020, companies that were already using continuous planning were able to adapt quickly when the pandemic created a lot of unexpected changes. 

More Informed Financial Planning 

With the continuous planning process, data is more easily available thanks to dashboards and custom reporting. This greatly benefits the financial planning and accounting teams, freeing them up from the repetitive task of collecting data on their own and compiling it into reports, a process that creates opportunities for human error and thus faulty data. They can shift their focus on more value-added tasks and with better data comes more informed decision-making and planning. 

Better Decision-Making 

Since continuous planning provides companies with more accurate and timely data, leaders are better equipped when making decisions. Traditional planning is similar to deciding on a place to take your vacation well in advance and then going no matter what, whereas continuous planning is like deciding on a vacation spot, learning that the weather is going to be terrible or that there is a pandemic in the area and then readjusting your plans so that you go somewhere else. In today’s rapidly changing world, having data and plans that are timely has become increasingly important. 

Incorporate Rolling Forecasts 

Rolling forecasts work together with continuous planning. They both shift planning from rigid, long timelines, to shorter ones that help a company adapt better to change and focus primarily on key business drivers. Since they are automated, rolling forecasts will give a warning when the plan isn’t being followed. It also updates the forecast to match what’s happening, giving your team the ability to respond faster when the market conditions change. Rolling forecasts work best with shorter planning cycles rather than annually or bi-annually. Rolling forecasts also help with recognizing gaps in performance and managing expectations. To best utilize rolling forecasts, automate them with a cloud-based application. 

A continuous planning model works best when organizations have the technology to support it. Workday Finance and Adaptive Planning provide that technology. In Workday Finance, insights are helpful and up to date with a friendly interface that is simple for all users to navigate. Workday Adaptive Planning provides a modeling engine used for enterprise planning. It also helps organizations automate their plans. 

To learn more, visit our Workday Finance and Workday Adaptive Planning pages.