Vuealta mentioned in Times Raconteur’s report

In The Times Raconteur’s report Managing the Unpredictable, Vuealta’s VP of Applications Antony Lovell discusses how businesses should handle uncertainty by implementing an advanced planning system. Also included in the report are key findings from Vuealta’s own research: The Future of the Supply Chain.

Download The Times Raconteur’s report

Vuealta expands senior leadership team with two new key hires

Nick Nesbitt and Mark Laughton join Vuealta to support growing customer base and company expansion.

We are pleased to announce that Nick Nesbitt has joined the Vuealta team as Managing Director, UK & Ireland, responsible for continuing to increase revenue for applications built on the Anaplan platform and related services.

Mark Laughton also joins as Group Chief Financial Officer, overseeing Vuealta’s finance, operations, legal and HR activities on a global basis.

As the new Managing Director of UK & Ireland, Nick Nesbitt brings more than 19 years’ experience in corporate management performance (CPM) to Vuealta. Nick’s career so far has seen him managing large CPM technology practices in independent software organizations, with a particular specialism in Cognos, Hyperion and Tagetik. His work has involved selling and delivering solutions across a wide range of industry sectors – a skill which will complement the delivery of Vuealta and Anaplan products.

Mark Laughton is joining the Vuealta global team as the new Chief Financial Officer with more than 15 years’ experience in senior finance leadership roles in the UK and internationally, having previously worked at GE, Lloyds Bank, Visa, RSA Insurance and NewDay Cards.

Ian Stone, CEO of Vuealta comments: “We are delighted to welcome Nick and Mark to our fast growing team. We have an enormous opportunity to expand our customer footprint through the provision of Anaplan powered applications for business modeling and planning and related global support for Anaplan customers across the world. We are also proud to be a Premier Sponsor of Anaplan’s CPX event, offering our customers a fantastic opportunity to meet the newest members of our team.”

Vuealta is Anaplan’s Channel Partner of the Year for 2019

Award presented to the Vuealta team at Anaplan’s 2019 Kick Off Event in San Francisco

We are delighted to announce that Vuealta has been awarded the Channel Partner of the Year Award for 2019.  Vuealta was recognised by Anaplan for leading significant business transactions across European and Asia-Pacific markets, while significantly growing its Anaplan practice, including a launch into the Americas market.

“Anaplan’s world-class partner ecosystem is one of the key driving forces behind the emergence of Connected Planning as an enterprise cloud category,” said David Tharp, Vice President, Global Partner Organization, Anaplan. “I’m thrilled to be with our partners from around the world to celebrate our annual partner award winners and discuss ways to capitalize on joint programs to engage customers, drive growth, and further pioneer the Connected Planning category.”

“The Vuealta team are extremely proud to receive this award in recognition of the new customers we have introduced to Anaplan over the last 12 months and the global support services we offer,” said Ian Stone, CEO, Vuealta.  “As an exclusive Anaplan partner, we are fully committed to our purpose of enabling organizations to accelerate decision making with Connected Planning on both local and international scales. I would like to congratulate the entire Vuealta team whose Anaplan expertise and customer first approach has contributed towards Vuealta achieving this accolade.”

The full press release can be read here

Follow us on Linked In to keep up to date with our new customers success stories and Connected Planning articles.

NewDay partners with Vuealta

NewDay, a leading UK consumer finance provider, has partnered with connected planning specialist, Vuealta to improve its business planning, budgeting and forecasting via the Anaplan platform.

Paul Sheriff, CFO at NewDay, commented, “The business has achieved significant growth in the last few years, whilst also expanding its portfolio of products and partnerships. We needed a planning platform that was more agile, and could connect the dots across the rapidly evolving business.”

“The Vuealta team helped us deliver a solution that maximised the benefits of the technology, with a fully connected financial model of the business. We are delighted with the impact it has had for the most recent budgeting cycle.” Following this success, NewDay is expanding the scope of the Anaplan platform into other areas beyond budgeting and forecasting.

Adam Bimson, Director and Co-founder of Vuealta said, “For NewDay, this was about bringing agility to a business trying to grow at great pace. By connecting their planning in the Anaplan platform and tailoring that solution to NewDay, we have been able to provide the scale and flexibility they need to continue to grow in their challenging industry. We’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with this industry pioneer and working together to achieve its business goals.”

-ENDS-

About NewDay

NewDay is a leading UK consumer finance provider, specialising in the near-prime and co-brands sectors of the UK credit card market. As at 31 December 2017, NewDay had approximately 5.4 million customers. Of these, 4.2 million customers hold co-brand credit and store cards offered in partnership with a number of the UK’s established retailers (including Amazon, Arcadia Group, Debenhams, House of Fraser, Laura Ashley, and TUI).  1.2 million customers hold own-brand credit cards, operating across the aqua, Fluid, marbles and opus brands. NewDay utilises its extensive customer knowledge of the near-prime and co-brand sectors to develop products and services that evolve in line with customers’ needs and promote long-term customer relationships.

About Vuealta

Vuealta is an international company providing tailored advisory, implementation and ongoing support services for Anaplan, a leading planning platform provider. A trusted advisor in business process and transformation, we work with global organizations to take a more unified and collaborative approach to planning – connecting people, plans and data to enable faster decision making. Vuealta has offices in Europe, Asia Pacific and USA. To learn more, visit vuealta.com.

Vuealta expands into Americas with New York office and Managing Director hire

Irfan Ozaltin joins the international advisory partner to further its global connected planning proposition

Connected planning specialist, Vuealta, has today announced that it has opened a New York office – it’s first in the Americas. In conjunction with this, the business has hired Irfan Ozaltin as Managing Director & GM of Americas, to spearhead its operations and expansion in the continent.

Over two thirds of Vuealta’s existing client base has global operations and this latest expansion comes in response to the demand from its customers for global support from one connected partner. This new USA presence builds on the recent acquisition of Executit in May 2018 which brought the business’ capabilities to the wider European and Asia Pacific markets. Vuealta’s strong pedigree in financial services will be an excellent spring board into this latest financial hub – New York.

Ozaltin commented “Given the maturity curve in cloud innovation and scalability, the world of finance and technology is going through a rapid and turbulent transformation. True connected planning has never been more important to survival. I am thrilled to be joining the Vuealta family, to build our brand in the Americas, and explore the market opportunity of helping businesses navigate this data revolution. As a global consulting firm, we will be well positioned to deliver real change and best-in-breed advisory services for our clients worldwide.”

“As with any venture into a new market our primary tasks will be talent acquisition and market penetration. I look forward to sharing Vuealta’s unique proposition with our prospects and building a talented team of consultants to continue the business’ pedigree and success, in this new market,” Ozaltin continued.

Prior to joining Vuealta, Ozaltin held roles including Managing Director with Impetus Consulting Group, leading the firm’s strategic direction and business within the USA-East region, as well as Director at Peloton Group, overseeing client services and go-to-market strategy for the New York and Mid-Atlantic markets.

Ian Stone, CEO of Vuealta added, “We’re delighted to welcome Irfan Ozaltin to Vuealta as we embark on this next exciting step in our company’s journey. Expanding into the Americas will cement our global offering and New York is the perfect base from which to launch this. With the right consultancy partner in place, businesses can realise the true power of connected planning.”

Vuealta acquires Executit, building on its global Anaplan offering

Vuealta extends offering in Northern Europe and the Asia Pacific region, sponsors Connected Planning industry event

Connected planning specialist, Vuealta, has today announced the acquisition of Executit. This is the company’s first acquisition, since its founding in 2017 by former-Anaplan employees, Ian Stone and Adam Bimson. The acquisition will further extend Vuealta’s Anaplan practice into Northern Europe and the Asia Pacific region.

Both companies work exclusively with Anaplan, the leader in Connected Planning, that provides software and services to create the connected plans essential for businesses competing today. Vuealta and Executit were both recently recognized with Anaplan Partner Awards for driving successful adoption, expansion, and return on investment for customers. Jointly, the two companies have an impressive customer portfolio and a huge range of experience across a variety of different use cases and many years of collective Anaplan expertise.

Ian Stone, CEO of Vuealta, said, “Technology has allowed businesses of all sizes to more easily establish a global footprint and they need an international partner to work with them to connect planning processes across their network. Bringing Executit, a highly respected and experienced partner that specializes in Anaplan services, into the Vuealta fold will allow us to expand our offering into Europe as well as gain a crucial foothold in the booming Asian marketplace. We deliver a global service to Anaplan’s international customers and this acquisition puts us in an even better position to do that at scale.

Jonas Nordquist, Founder of Executit commented, “We are excited to be joining forces with Vuealta, furthering our work with customers to realise the best of the Anaplan Connected Planning platform. Drawing on Vuealta’s additional capabilities, we will continue on our mission to tackle business challenges and transform uncertainties into opportunities.

Anaplan is committed to delivering success for our customers, and our partner ecosystem is critical to achieving this,” said David Tharp, Anaplan Vice President of Global Alliances. “Vuelta and Executit are valued members of the Anaplan partner community, and their alignment will create a multi-regional approach important to many of our global customers.

Vuealta is a gold sponsor at Anaplan’s Hub Comes to You, a Connected Planning industry conference, taking place on May 15 at 8:00 AM at the Central Hall Westminster Storey’s Gate, Westminster London SW1H 9NH, UK. To learn more about the event, visit https://www.hubcomestoyou.com/london/.

About Vuealta

Vuealta is an international company providing tailored advisory, implementation and ongoing support services for Anaplan, a leading planning platform provider. A trusted advisor in business process and transformation, we work with global organizations to take a more unified and colloborative approach to planning – connecting people, plans and data to enable faster decision making. Vuealta has offices in Europe and Asia Pacific.

Vuealta partners with Lloyds of London to modernise its Finance function

A more connected approach to planning at Lloyd’s of London puts the finance team at the strategic heart of the business

When Jim Islam, Head of Group Finance at Lloyd’s of London joined the Corporation, he inherited a traditional accounting function. He saw an opportunity to modernise and change the perception and role that the finance team played within the wider organization, putting it at the heart of strategic decision making.

Specifically, he realised that by streamlining and connecting the Corporation’s budgeting and planning processes, he could make the finance function an effective and strategic business partner, whilst also improving and accelerating the organization’s ability to make better decisions. To do that, he chose to partner with Vuealta to introduce the Anaplan platform; replacing Lloyd’s of London’s numerous, processes and approaches with one consistent plan.

This couldn’t have come at a better time. Lloyd’s is introducing a number of modernisation programmes to enhance efficiency and provide better value for money services. To do that, it needs a clear, accurate and real-time view of financial performance and the ability to forecast for future scenarios.

Jim Islam explains: “We were good at reporting the numbers but not exploring them to provide actionable insights to the business. We needed to put finance at the heart of strategic decision making by introducing a standardised approach. That meant getting rid of the disparate system applications that we were relying on and introducing a consistent global template.

The change needed to happen quickly. Working with Vuealta, Jim and his team implemented the Anaplan platform across all of their business regions in just four months – endlessly flexible and scalable, it can be used across the business to connect data, processes and people. The platform gives the finance team and others within the business a much bigger picture view of its finances.

Jim continues: “The Anaplan platform provides us with a clear view on targets, data, any changes that have been made and how they’re being managed, which is indispensable for our audit trails and risk monitoring. This is particularly important considering increasing demands on the finance team to be agile and provide insightful information with a single version of the truth for financial data. It has enabled us to focus on developing talent and enhancing management information to drive decision-making.

The shift from processing numbers to spending more time on analysis and value-added work has also made the finance team’s jobs much more interesting and they have become true partners to the business. To support them in this new role, Lloyd’s has spent a lot of time on training and re-designing the team, putting in place a new organizational structure and creating centres of excellence. “

Ian Stone, CEO of Vuealta: “Fast and agile decision making is what sets successful companies apart. By renewing its approach to planning in the finance department, Lloyd’s of London has put itself on the front foot when dealing with changes in the market, whether that’s regulations, market pressures or competition from FinTech. Other parts of the business have been impressed with the benefits of the new planning approach and are also now engaging in further rollouts of the Anaplan platform.

Karen Clarke, Vice President, Northern Europe at Anaplan: “Collaboration and alignment will be key to companies as they navigate today’s turbulent economic and political landscape. A more connected approach to planning allows information to flow more freely across a business to provide increased agility and better insights. The finance team is a hugely important driver of this change – using data and information to help the business make more informed and quicker decisions. Lloyd’s of London is a fantastic example of how this new approach can have a real difference to the organization as a whole in just a short space of time.

Vuealta and Reportwise announce partnership to deliver IFRS16 Compliant Lease Contracts Management Solution

As of January 2019, the IFRS16 Standard imposes a single lessee accounting model; requiring lessees to ensure a permanent lease inventory, recognise assets and liabilities in their balance sheet and publish additional disclosures.

Addressing this statutory requirement, Reportwise Consulting, a specialist performance management company, have created an IFRS16 compliant solution powered by Anaplan, for data collection, calculations, reporting and disclosures of lease contracts.

Forming a new partnership, Reportwise and Vuealta are committed to helping UK businesses meet the needs of the requirements of IFRS16, through the deployment of the new App.

The clock is ticking for these organizations, who need to have a solution in place by 1 January 2019,” said Ian Stone, CEO, Vuealta. “We are delighted to announce our new partnership with Reportwise whose Anaplan App we can deliver to companies across the UK in a short amount of time, carrying out implementations during the first half of 2018 in order to meet the statutory deadline.

The team at Vuealta are in a prime position to take our solution to market,” said Michel Morel, Anaplan Practice Lead at Reportwise. “Their Anaplan expertise and skills, combined with their existing customer relationships, means that we can expect to see successful deployments across relevant organizations, supporting this element of their IFRS16 compliancy.

12 Hints & Tips on Using Anaplan for Management Information (MI)

Read our round-up of best practice Hints and Tips for preparing and presenting Management Information.

1) Deliver the basics at the front of the pack/series of dashboards

Whilst there can be a temptation to run away with a variety of information, there should always be a place for core management schedules at the forefront of the MI.  A P&L showing (1) ‘Actual vs PYr/Bud’ for the month and YTD, and (2) ‘Forecast vs PYr/Bud’ for the full year must be front and centre with no over complication.  Management have spent their career with these types of reports coming across their desk, so have muscle memory in consuming the messages.

2) Draw out the ‘what’s changed?’ message

A monthly pack needs to highlight new news.  There is clearly a place for replaying those things which are already known, but not at the expense of hiding new developments.  For instance, if a particular cost line is known to be running above budget for the YTD, and the reason for this is understood, then there isn’t necessarily merit in continuing to focus narrative on this issue if this means that other, more recent trends are lost.

3) Capture and present the data which allows the causes to be understood

The MI needs to help identify the upstream cause of performance and often this involves collecting data which is not in the finance systems.  In other cases, it may simply require correlated metrics to be presented together.  Ultimately, the aim is to understand – for instance – not just that a cost is above budget, but instead if it is due to a greater consumption than anticipated or more of a unit cost issue, or if it is driven by increased business volumes, or a timing consideration etc.  Having users tag/categorise variances can support this sort of analysis.

4) Don’t overcomplicate the charting

Simple charts can strongly amplify a message, particularly in drawing out trends which are less apparent in the data.  On the flip side, overly complex charts can be a distraction, and as such, we recommend sticking to simple standard charts. A simple test should always be ‘can the user tell what the chart is trying to present to them if they look at it for less than ten seconds?’

5) Focus on the forward implications

The core financials will give a view of ‘what has happened’, and there is clear merit in understanding that position.  However, the real benefit of the MI should be to understand what that means for future performance, year-end out turn etc.  Some of this will be driven by primary forecasting activity where the business is actively reviewing assumptions, buying into a forecast etc.  Additionally, it can be supported by simple modeling, using techniques such as run rate projections.

6) Exploit the modeling and data capture abilities of Anaplan

Taking GL data, aggregating it and presenting it only gets you so far.  Usually there is an opportunity to enhance the data by using the modeling/calculation capabilities.  This may be by processing recharges and/or allocations, by mapping data to produce alternative roll-ups and views or by managing exchange rates so that the impact of currency movements on variances is clear.  Invariably, this needs not only the calculation engine, but also user inputs to control the calculation behaviours.

7) Include specific reference/content to forecast accuracy

In the spirit of continual improvement, and ever better forecasting and predictability, an MI pack should include a view on forecast accuracy.  This needn’t be ‘naming and shaming’, but should be granular enough to understand which areas of the forecast are more or less accurate.  This can be particularly important when dealing with driver-based forecasting, as it can help understand where the forecast approach needs recalibration, alternative drivers identified etc.

8) Place emphasis on the trends

The strongest message in MI is often in the trends, and simple line and bar charting of these is highly effective.  In particular, using techniques such as rolling 12-month averages allows a focus on the underlying trend rather than the monthly fluctuations.  Sharp turns in direction in a forecast rolling average can be suspicious.

9) Maintain a rolling view

Notwithstanding that there is always a need for a YTD/FY view, we recommend that there is also content to capture a rolling view.  This can often just be ensuring that a ‘last 12 months’ / ‘next 12 months’ view is available.

10) Keep the commentary insightful

Too often commentary can just be a repeat in words of what the data shows, i.e. ‘costs for the YTD are £0.2mn above budget’, which does not add much value.  Commentary should focus instead on the why as well as what can done about it? Commentary should have that ‘call-to-action’ feeling to it.

11) Select the appropriate delivery mechanism

Broadly speaking, there are three options for delivering reports to users, namely (1) direct access through Anaplan, (2) preparation of traditional Excel/PowerPoint based packs, and (3) integration with a Business Intelligence tool. It may be that some of the user community uses Anaplan to ‘self-serve’ access to data as well as navigate around this data etc.  However, when it comes to senior management/executive reporting, PowerPoint often remains the most effective delivery mechanism.  The implication of this is that there will still be effort within Finance to prepare these packs.  However, the upside should be in ensuring that Anaplan does the heavy lifting on preparing the data, without too much Excel manipulation and manual steps.

12) When building MI, step back from the detail

A project team building dashboards and reports can often get very close to the detail.  In doing so, complex dashboards can be created whereby every element is very well thought out and understood, but by people who have lived and breathed the content.  Stepping back and thinking ‘will the end user know the purpose of each component?’ is important to avoid the trap.

Need training on a new finance system? Go back to the classroom for a richer and more successful experience

Have you ever hit a stumbling block whilst working through a self-paced online course? Maybe you’ve been working through the instructions and guidelines and then suddenly, something just doesn’t look right. Did you miss a step somewhere? What will happen if you go back to previous steps to try and figure out the problem? Will you lose the work you have completed so far?

Or maybe you are just curious to find out what happens if you click a certain button that’s not featured in the pre-planned training course?

My name is Ricky Parkash. I am a qualified accountant and have been a consultant and trainer of finance systems for over 15 years, including SAP, IBM Cognos and Anaplan. I have a particularly keen interest in developing simple and clear methods to deliver complex scenarios to training delegates that attend my classroom based courses.

The purpose of this blog is to provide food for thought to anyone considering an online course versus a classroom based training course on the same subject.

Training and learning goes back centuries and comprises of a pupil having a teacher, master, mentor or a guide telling, explaining and showing how something is done and providing immediate feedback when it’s the students turn.

When it comes to learning a new finance system, classroom training has this same compound effect, with the trainer having the ability to assess the delegate in real time. Where online training may have the advantages of availability, it lacks the interaction, focus and most importantly eliminates the ‘human touch’.

I’ve spent many times in a classroom ‘watching the penny drop’ with a delegate when something is explained. It gives me great satisfaction to see a delegate who doesn’t know anything about the new finance system on the morning of day one, go on to build a multi-dimensional use case model by the afternoon of day three. To me, this is just further evidence of the speed at which learning can take place in the classroom.

As we all know, the goal of training is to educate the delegate, enabling them to perform their role and subsequently enhance their career. Classroom training provides a safe space, where delegates won’t feel intimidated by mistakes or lack of knowledge. When a delegate leaves a classroom course to return to work after passing the accreditation exam, it is with pride that he or she delivers the news to their colleagues and employer. They haven’t spent a few lonely days fixed to their computer screens whilst working independently through an online course, so they usually return to the office with a spring in their step and a new certification!

Classroom training can also be fun! If the trainer has a string of jokes, acronyms, memory aides or amusing war stories, this can all add to having a longer term understanding of the topic at hand. For example, I often liken the process of loading data into a multi-dimensional module to playing 3D Battleships; it requires all the co-ordinates to fire a numeric or text value in the correct cell. And all accountants will recognise their difficulty in tearing themselves away from spreadsheets and that’s supported by the fitting alternative description for the Institute of Chartered Accountants In England and Wales (ICAEW); the Institute of Calculator Addicts and Excel Worshipers.

To summarise my thoughts on why classroom training is more productive and delivers better all round results:

A Sense Of Completion

Unlike online self-paced courses, classroom courses won’t stop halfway through. The ultimate objective is to wave a congratulatory goodbye to delegates at the end of the course whilst handing them their certificate of completion. There are no distractions (the day job being the most common!) and delegates don’t need to worry about time management whilst in attendance. Instead they can focus fully on the task at hand.

Practice

Ample opportunity is provided for each delegate to build and rebuild or test a changed scenario with verification from the instructor on the merits of an alternative option. And if you’ve nailed it before the others on the course, you might even have time for a quick coffee before moving onto the next challenge.

Better Return On Investment

Studies show that through a continuous flow of learning, delegates retain and apply their new knowledge much quicker than a ‘stop-start’ experience.

Learning From Other Participants

Even the instructor can benefit here!! Sharing experiences amongst the group, tips and tricks, positive or indeed negative experiences all leads to a richer overall experience. Plus of course, it’s yet another excellent opportunity to build your network of like minded peers.

Interested in an Anaplan Classroom Based Training Course?

Learn more about our training courses and book yourself onto our Introduction to Model Building Course or our Intermediate Model Building Course today!

Vuealta launches in Asia Pacific region with new office in Sydney

Vuealta, a leading European-based Anaplan partner, announced its launch in the Asia Pacific region today, with the opening of an office in Sydney, Australia.  Led by Jason Crage, formerly of Solution Minds, the Vuealta APAC team brings to the region over 20 years of experience within Enterprise Performance Management sales and consultancy services.

With global demand for Anaplan continuing to grow, aligning our business to support multi-national customers based within regional offices with a localised service is an important priority for us,” says Ian Stone, CEO at Vuealta. “We are pleased to be able to strengthen our relationship with Anaplan by continuing to support its growing customer base with this new office opening.

Jason Crage, Managing Director at Vuealta APAC, comments “We are looking forward to delivering our best-in-class consultancy services to organizations across the APAC region.  Our team has deep product expertise and knowledge and this is a logical step to strengthen Vuealta’s position amongst the Anaplan partner ecosystem.

Get in touch with the Vuealta APAC Team:

40 Mount Street Level 17.
North Sydney NSW 20160.
Australia

E: hello@vuealta.com
T: 00 61 405 709 351

Vuealta joins the Anaplan Partner Network in EMEA

San Francisco, February 7, 2017 – Anaplan, a leading planning and performance management platform, today announced that London-based Vuealta will join the Anaplan partner network in EMEA. Led by Ian Stone, formerly of Anaplan, Vuealta will bolster the Anaplan channel program.

We’re thrilled to have a fast-growing global community of best-in- class consulting partners,” said Paul Melchiorre, Anaplan’s Chief Revenue Officer. “We are excited to welcome Vuealta into our ecosystem of partners who continually innovate to enable smart planning for our diverse customer base.

Stone has worked closely with Anaplan since 2011, when he launched Vue Analytics as the first Anaplan partner in the UK. Since then, Stone has been at the heart of Anaplan’s growth in EMEA as the Anaplan UK Managing Director before moving on as Managing Director at Vuealta.

There’s a huge opportunity for Anaplan business partners in EMEA to complement phenomenal software with advisory, implementation, and managed services,” said Stone. “I’m looking forward to working closely with customers to implement solutions that solve their business challenges and to continue supporting Anaplan’s growth in EMEA.

About Anaplan

Anaplan is a leading planning and performance management platform for smart businesses. Anaplan combines an unrivaled planning and modeling engine, predictive analytics, and cloud collaboration into one simple interface for business users. Anaplan is a privately held company based in San Francisco with 16 offices worldwide. To learn more, visit anaplan.com.

Press Contact
Anaplan – Pascal Boulard, Head of PR, EMEA
Cel : +336 14 16 80 17
pascal.boulard@anaplan.com

Broaden your Knowledge with Anaplan Resources

Take time to visit the content rich Resources page at Anaplan.  Learn of customer successes by reading cases studies and watching testimonial videos, download informative whitepapers and analysts reports from the likes of Forrester and Gartner.

Anaplan Datasheets, Product Demos and access to Events and Webinars are listed in the resources section too – it’s a plethora of useful information!

Visit the Resources library now and don’t forget to let us know when you are ready to take your Anaplan project forward – we are here to provide you with all the expert and tailored advice you need to be successful!

Why the Customer is King in Strategic Planning

Companies are faced with a future that would appear to be both unknowable and uncontrollable. Some appear to have slipped into the false comfort that it is best not to make too many firm choices, and instead let strategy emerge as events unfold to make the future clearer. Back in the 1970’s, Henry Mintzberg —still lecturing, writing and tweeting at the age of 75 —made the distinction between deliberate strategy that resulted from systematic business planning, and emergent strategy, which he saw as a wait-and-see approach that came about as a company responded to a variety of unanticipated and unconsidered events.

Beware of Extremes in Strategic Planning

Mintzberg recognized that most companies pursue strategies that lay somewhere on a continuum between the extremes of completely deliberate and completely emergent, which he saw as ideal types. He wanted managers to develop a strategy but at the same time he wanted them to carefully monitor for changes in their environment and constantly make course corrections to their strategy.

If scenario analysis is concerned with identifying plausible futures, then strategic planning is concerned with moving the company to a sustainable position in the most likely future — all the time monitoring critical events and technologies that will lead to that future and being ready to re-orientate as necessary.

Those companies that spend little time on strategic planning leave themselves exposed to the whims of an emergent strategy. Many believe that their markets are large enough to accommodate their growth aspirations without too much planning; or that they are a “fast-follower” and can rapidly adapt to changes in their markets. Adopting an emergent approach to strategy is clearly risky for a large company with a high level of fixed assets. However it may be entirely the right approach to strategic planning for a start-up technology company exploring which vertical markets to double down on or an entrepreneurial business unit of a large organization.

Follow the Money

At the same time, being over-zealous in adopting a deliberate approach to strategy formulation can be risky too. This is because companies can easily immerse themselves in the detailed planning of revenue, operating expenses, and capital expenditure, and quickly delude themselves that they now know and can control the future. They clearly cannot. They might be able to control costs in the future, but only customers create revenue. That is why strategic planning should always focus on the changing needs of customers and how anticipated changes in market size and market share combine to generate future revenue streams.

Ultimately, the customer plays the decisive role and every strategy for a business is a mix between responding to market demands and creating them. Businesses need agility and flexibility to walk the precarious line between each of these options – too far over to either side can have disastrous consequences, potentially leaving the organization trailing key trends or else going off in the wrong direction altogether.

Planning for Spontaneity

When it comes to adding agility, cloud computing now offers the most compelling argument. Facilitating real-time updates allows the entire team to be involved in collaborating on the best approach, whilst sharing accountability for the results as they are realised. The on-demand resources of the cloud provide businesses with unprecedented scale and the ability to cost-effectively manage and process data volumes that were previously unthinkable – crucial when it comes to analysing and predicting customer buying habits.

As strange as it sounds, organizations must try and plan for the unexpected trends. Simply put, your organization must be agile and flexible enough to keep the pace with rivals. Adhering to old-processes and clunky legacy software leaves a business at risk of being left behind as the market continues to embrace the cloud operation model and increase the speed of change within their organizations. Organizational flexibility doesn’t come solely from mobile working or a scalable cloud infrastructure but also from empowering business users to find the technologies and processes which best enable them to work most effectively. So find out from your staff what they need to be more agile.

Mixing emergent and deliberate approaches is the best way of making decisions. There is a risk of waiting and seeing what comes up. But if you only have one ambition in life, failure can mean overwhelming disappointment, and by that time, your singular focus may have led you to close down too many other options.