Vena Nation Wrap-Up: Plan for Today and Tomorrow

Mastering the planning process, the importance of agile reporting and more takeaways from Day 1 at Vena Nation.

Vena Nation is underway. With an agenda full of insights and learnings from industry experts, there was a lot to unpack from the first day of sessions. Fortunately, we’ve put together a short recap of some key learnings to help you confidently plan for today and tomorrow.

Here are the top takeaways from Day 1 at Vena Nation:

Having a plan is important, but having a planning process is more important

The rapidly changing nature of the global economy combined with the complexity of modern business operations means that business plans have limited value. Revenue projections, for example, can become outdated mere days (or sometimes hours) after they have been created. And that means that your business plan may need to be thrown out the window.

It’s why the planning process, not a single plan, is so important—if you know that business plans will need to be created, discarded and altered on a frequent basis then you need to ensure that you have an efficient process in place for creating those business plans. Finance leaders and teams can maximize their impact by optimizing the planning process. 

So, how do you go about creating an effective business planning process? Here are three great tips from Darrel Cox’s keynote presentation at Vena Nation, “Plan for Today and Tomorrow”:

  1. Foster a good planning culture. Remember that there are people at the end of the process who will be affected by the decisions you make. You may, for example, have to convince someone to cut their budget. This is where things like frequent and open communication between departments and strong alignment among stakeholders make a big difference.
  2. Make sure your process includes the following key tools: a 5-year rolling top-down model, a 12-month rolling bottom-up forecast and budget model, weekly and monthly operations reports and monthly finance reports and a planning system.
  3. Focus on speed not perfection. Above all, a business planning process needs to be fast so that you can detect changes in the business and react quickly. To create an agile planning process, be sure to look at leading indicators instead of trailing metrics. For example, a business with a long sales cycle should keep a close eye on leads and conversion rates as leading indicators.

To learn more best practices for creating an agile business planning process, register for Vena Nation (it’s 100% free) and watch Darrel’s session on demand.

Dashboard reports and analytics are key when making critical business planning decisions

As mentioned earlier, the speed of the modern economy and complexity of business operations these days are putting a limited value on business plans.

But that doesn’t mean business plans have zero value. 

After all, decisions still need to be made about the future of your business. And the best business decisions and plans are ones that are driven by data, not gut feelings. But with so much data available to modern finance teams, how do you know that you’re using the right data to inform your business plans? 

The answer is to take advantage of data visualization and analytics tools so that you can surface the data that really matters to the people who really matter—namely, the upper management who may not have time to comb through all of the data, but are ultimately responsible for signing off on new business plans. This is where the ability for finance teams to integrate and store all of their business data in a central database, connect that data to visualization tools such as Power BI and easily create automated reports for key stakeholders, shows its true value. 

Agile reporting is a must to stay ahead of the competition

The pace of business is accelerating rapidly. To outpace competitors, organizations can’t afford to put important business decisions on holdthey need insights that allow them to make decisions today. Agile reporting enables upper management to make faster business decisions so that they can stay ahead of the curve and adjust to changing market conditions.

Agile reporting is about, you guessed it, speed. It’s about being able to create an ad-hoc for key stakeholders in just a few minutes so that they can quickly interpret the report, understand the story behind the numbers, and use the insights they’ve gained to make faster, more informed business planning decisions. If your finance team is spending hours collecting data and performing manual processes to put together reports, that’s not being agile.

To create reports in an agile manner, organizations need to have the ability to instantly pull in data from all of their external sources (as discussed above) and easily manipulate that data. To take agile reporting one step further, finance teams should take advantage of tools that let them create self-serving reports for decision makers (the end users). Organizations that put information in the hands of the end users when they need it and how they need it and that also create self-serve reporting environments are proven to perform better.

To view all Vena Nation sessions live and on demand, head on over to plantogrow.com and register now for your free All Access pass.

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