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How to improve your operational planning process

Operational planning is an integrated business management process through which the executive or leadership team of an organization can continually achieve focus, alignment, and synchronization among all organization functions. It is the cross-functional process of assessing the market to ensure an organization can meet the forecasted demands required of it. It is used to make sure operational plans are aligned with organizational goals and objectives.   

One of the most common challenges within an organization is the misalignment between operations and other functional teams. But this can be quickly and easily remedied with operations planning that is focused not only on profitability but also on collaboration between departments or business functions. Operational planning is the process of managing supply, demand, and financial planning to define goals, ensure appropriate staffing levels, allocate budgets, and improve resource planning. 

The operations planning process relies on accurate data that can be analyzed and reported on to evaluate key business functions and organizational performance. Businesses with a robust, well-managed process see greater success in sales execution, new client onboarding, product launches, and route-to-market implementation.

Operational planning has a significant impact on the bottom line if it is managed through an effective strategy. For success in operational planning, engagement has to come from the top of the organization. It has to be advocated by the organization leaders, and its importance understood at every level. A well-executed operational plan should:

  • Translate onto the market level with one source of data truth.
  • Be grounded by a solid end-to-end decision-making process with clear opportunities and risks.
  • Achieve organizational goals and objectives.  
  • Promote collaboration between departments.
  • Allow clear and formal communication between demand and supply.
  • Balance expected demand with the capabilities of the business.
  • Resolve future problems before they arise.
  • Respond effectively to shortages and surpluses in the market

This should result in lower operating costs, improved customer service, and increased productivity, revenue, and profitability. 

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Operational planning software

Organizations can accelerate the maturity of their operational planning process by empowering planners to collaborate across business functions, understand financial impact with scenario management, and easily adjust planning models.

Organizations are turning to cloud-based services to gather more accurate insight from their data analytics and improve their operations planning. It is difficult to develop goals, create budgets, or carry out accurate operational planning when using outdated legacy systems, manual processes, or complex spreadsheets. Finance planning and analysis (FP&A) teams know that without the right software solutions, they spend too much time managing and organizing data when they should be analyzing it.

If an organization is to create accurate operational planning, a central vault of data with key metrics is critical. Business leaders need access to accurate, reliable data to analyze performance against goals. The right technology helps organizations to create a standardized process with frameworks to work within. Project and FP&A teams can constantly monitor the metrics and make adjustments where necessary. 

Operational planning software should provide the ability to balance scenario planning models, integrate finance and data, and effectively collaborate with partners such as suppliers, customers, and all other stakeholders. 

How Unit4 can help your organization with operational planning

Our integrated FP&A software solutions for organizational planning free your teams to spend more time delivering insights and creating value for the business. We help you understand the numbers more deeply and then turn that insight into action for better business results.

You can harness the power of fully aligned teams and Unit4’s integrated FP&A software to drive success. Our solutions help you by combining automated financial planning and analysis, budget management, and financial forecasting with highly interactive dashboards and powerful, pre-configured models.

Our cloud FP&A software solution gives your people better, faster ways to put the numbers to work — through smarter planning, budgeting, forecasting, reporting, visualization, and analytics. As a result, your organization can take a flexible, integrated approach for all your organization’s financial planning needs, whether planning cash flow, managing operational budgets, or forecasting sales, costs, and revenue.

Organizations can better manage their operations with industry-leading software for Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Human Capital Management (HCM). 

You can check out Unit4's People Experience suite here.

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Michael Lengenfelder

Michael Lengenfelder

Vice President FP&A, Unit4

Michael Lengenfelder is Head of Product Management Unit4 Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) with global responsibility for the Unit4 FP&A product portfolio since April 1, 2021. He has been with Unit4 since 2005 in various leadership roles. After completing his studies in International Business Administration at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, he joined the former Prevero Austria GmbH as a consultant and has been accompanying Unit4's FP&A journey ever since.