5 minute read 15 Nov. 2021
EY - People having strategy meeting and presentation

How embracing integrated business planning could fuel the future for CFOs

Authors
Mike Ballestrin

EY Canada Finance Consulting Leader

Enthusiastic transformation consultant working in partnership with clients to raise the performance bar. Future of finance visionary. Team builder.

KB Brinkley

EY Canada Integrated Business Planning Leader

Finance transformation leader. Dynamic project manager. Consummate team player with a collaborative approach.

5 minute read 15 Nov. 2021
Related topics Consulting Long-Term Value

Today’s market requires businesses to plan faster and assess multiple scenarios. Integrated business planning can break down silos, unlocking more savings and growth.

In brief
  • Did your organization lose out on key market and growth opportunities due to the abrupt market shifts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Are your organization’s disconnected processes hindering finance’s ability to react quickly to changes or disruptions?
  • Could technology help you identify the gaps that are impacting your organization’s ability to make better strategic decisions?

Spearheading a more integrated approach to business planning can help transition Canadian chief financial officers to chief value officers in a market that necessitates unprecedented agility. CFOs who embrace this moment to reframe their role can simultaneously generate long-term value for their organizations — and a more meaningful path forward for their teams, and themselves.

Why is integrated business planning critical?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused abrupt market shifts that drive the need to plan faster and assess multiple scenarios. From supply chain breakdowns to a dynamic labour market to logistical nightmares: organizations that failed to plan quickly or flexibly enough have faltered over the last 18 months. As planning fell short, companies in all sectors lost out on key market opportunities, earnings and growth.

In response, EY market research shows CFOs globally are now drilling down to lead or co-lead unprecedented investments — in both size and scale — in planning transformations. They’re smart to do so, in an environment further characterized by a collective redefining of long-term value.

Applying integrated business planning (IBP) is key to navigating this complex market and driving long-term financial health. Based on EY conducted market research relating to IBP, we know organizations that get IBP right can:

  • Increase sales
  • Reduce cash cycles
  • Ramp up EBIT
  • Improve forecast accuracy
  • Cut down inventory

Canadian CFOs have a unique opportunity to hone a competitive advantage by similarly linking demand, supply, capital, labour and financial planning through IBP frameworks that foster agility. Doing so now can prepare the organization for potential market shocks, increase opportunities as we navigate the new normal, and position finance itself as a trusted advisor, indispensable in the process of defining and supporting strategic priorities in any economic climate.

How can CFOs spearhead integrated business planning?

IBP not only requires good process and enabling systems. It also needs a high degree of cooperation across functional silos that are often challenging to break down. Making IBP work requires strong leadership and vision. Value-driving CFOs are seizing the opportunity to provide the necessary leadership to make IBP work. They begin by asking three questions.

1. Are internal silos holding us back and slowing us down?

IBP should be a connected process, developed and shared by finance and operations. Done well, it positions finance as a strategic ally, aligning processes across multiple areas to create a sustainable, transparent and controlled method of planning ahead. Integrated business planning is about connecting what finance and the business are doing, so the organization can react more quickly to any number of external changes, shocks or disruptions. That collaborative approach accelerates speed to impact.

  • Identify the operational silos that may be holding your integration back and begin systematically dismantling them to encourage a more integrated, cross-functional approach to business planning. But don’t bite off more than your organization can chew. The end goal of IBP can be accomplished using a modular approach – breaking down one silo at a time – rather than a costly and higher-risk “big bang” strategy.
2. Do technology gaps stop us from hitting our goals?

Better decision-making now depends on an organization’s ability to use data predictively. Tech-enabled platforms unify ways of working, thinking and operating so functional groups can make better decisions around strategic direction and tactical execution — together. The modular and scalable planning tools of today combined with machine learning, artificial intelligence and other accelerators can transform data collection and processing behind the scenes. This makes business planning more accurate and better connected to what’s happening in real time. That’s important for stakeholders seeking to understand the state of play or apply insight to buy smartly, invest wisely, manage effectively and save comprehensively. When you use technology to surface analytics and insight, teams can focus on results and be nimble when correcting course.

  • Assess your tech platforms to understand where the gaps lie and create a plan to connect the tools you have with the additional solutions you’ll need to support a more integrated business planning framework.
3. Is our talent agenda out of date?

Top talent is seeking higher quality jobs that offer the attractiveness and potential for longer-term relationships that come with an overarching career experience. Compensation alone is not enough to recruit and retain the leaders finance will need to support a more strategic function that’s capable of catalyzing cross-functional collaboration and change in the organization. When you embrace IBP, you empower yourself with an instrumental new driver that allows you to rethink your future — and the future of your workforce. Putting humans at the centre of your strategy can unleash meaningful value over the long term.

  • Set a clear vision for what it will mean to work in finance going forward, where you’d like the function to go and what changes you’ll need to make to cultivate a corporate culture that talent will actively pursue.

What’s the bottom line?

There’s no better time for CFOs to forge a new path forward through IBP in ways that create agility and value for their organizations. Doing so now can reposition finance as a forward-looking, strategic ally committed to spurring growth, scaling reach and developing value.

Summary

Business, markets, expectations and technology have all changed. These monumental shifts necessitate a new framework for business planning. Integrated business planning is a connected process that can position finance as a strategic ally, aligning processes across multiple areas to create a sustainable, transparent and controlled method of planning ahead.

About this article

Authors
Mike Ballestrin

EY Canada Finance Consulting Leader

Enthusiastic transformation consultant working in partnership with clients to raise the performance bar. Future of finance visionary. Team builder.

KB Brinkley

EY Canada Integrated Business Planning Leader

Finance transformation leader. Dynamic project manager. Consummate team player with a collaborative approach.

Related topics Consulting Long-Term Value