Alight Planning announced the surprising results of an informal survey conducted during the closing presentation of the GMI-Solutions FP&A training conference in San Francisco held earlier in February. Ben Lamorte, VP Marketing at Alight, introduced new material in his presentation entitled Financial Planning Innovations: Is it worth it to replace spreadsheets with a planning tool?
“Midway through my presentation,” said Lamorte, “I asked the group of about 50 attendees whether their management is prioritizing ‘streamlining existing processes to save time’, Type 1 benefits, or ‘introducing new processes that add business value’, Type 2 benefits. Earlier in the conference I spoke with one FP&A professional who reported, ‘We’re working on the hard benefits which can be measured by time saved; we’re also interested in soft benefits that cannot be measured such as improving decision making.’ This inspired me to conduct an informal survey of the audience about what type of benefits are most important to management. The surprising part was that every single attendee reported management prioritizes Type 2 over Type 1.”
Robert Kugel, SVP and Research Director with Ventana Research spoke at the same GMI event prior to Lamorte, “Realistically, you shouldn’t read too much into a single survey based on a live audience of finance professionals who were there to learn about innovation in planning. However, it doesn’t surprise me that everyone put business value ahead of simply doing what they do faster. These are companies that want their planning and budgeting process to add value and promote success, rather than just going through the motions.“
During the presentation Lamorte provided examples to sharpen the Type 1 and Type 2 distinction, “A management team is expressing Type 1 – streamline existing processes – as more critical than Type 2 – introduce new processes that add business value – when they prioritize reducing time spent verifying formulas every month to update a current forecast over introducing a new planning process. Examples of new processes might include introducing a rolling forecast, making the move to driver-based planning, or integrating isolated balance sheet and cash flow models into the planning model.”
As part of its ongoing commitment to understanding how best to improve financial planning and enable finance teams to make real impacts that drive their business forward, the Alight team hopes to extend this survey to a larger audience later in 2012.
About Alight Planning
Alight Planning is a true driver-based financial planning and reporting software package that automates complex business modeling for more accurate strategic plans, revenue projections, budgets and rolling forecasts. Its unique architectures and easy-to-use interfaces provide finance staff the power they need to build complex driver-based planning models, while delivering traditional budgeting and planning structures such as line item detail, integrated financial statements and multiple-user security. Cost-effective and IT-independent, Alight Planning is affordable and easily deployed by Fortune 500 business units, as well as midmarket companies with limited IT resources. Alight has over 250 customers including Kaiser Permanente, Pennsylvania State University, British Telecommunications, Pittsburgh Mercy Health, the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Disney World and Verizon Wireless. For more information about Alight Planning, visit http://www.AlightPlanning.com or call 800-960-7717.