Business Planning and Analytics: The Difference between Surviving and Thriving


As organizations overcome the challenges in front of them, they can always count on new ones emerging to test their business systems and growth. But the one thing that consistently separates those that thrive from those that just survive is the ability to rapidly pivot and evolve business processes by using robust planning and analysis.

With every market challenge or global crisis, the interest level and awareness around planning and analytics also grows. Gartner has seen a rapid increase in the number of client organizations seeking to integrate and link financial and operational planning processes wherever possible. Gartner estimates that, through 2024, 30% of FP&A implementations will be extended to support operational finance processes.* This new ‘extended planning and analysis’ (xP&A) category is the evolution of financial planning and analysis, creating and connecting strategic, financial, and operational plans across the enterprise to optimize performance.

This increasing interest comes after five or more years of no investments in new FP&A technology for 26% of departments, according to the 2021 FP&A Trends Survey and FP&A Strategy Consulting.

Most companies may already feel they are at their tipping point in terms of managing change and responding effectively. But for SAP partners and their customers, the exponential pace of change and complexity can be answered through the business intelligence, augmented and predictive analytics, and enterprise planning capabilities of the SAP Analytics Cloud solution, SAP’s xP&A offering and part of SAP Business Technology Platform.

Transitioning All Planning to the Cloud

SAP partners are enabling customers to replace legacy analytics and planning tools with SAP Analytics Cloud across their global enterprise. For instance, partner expertise and guidance enables customers to redefine and streamline expense and asset plans with a focus on the most strategic needs of their business.

Using a well-defined approach, these partners can help their customers address and resolve challenges commonly encountered with outdated planning and analysis solutions. For example, planning processes can differ considerably across the business, with some departments using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and others relying on a patchwork of in-house solutions. This can disconnect decision-making across lines of business ‒ from HR decisions on employee salaries to operational conclusions related to capital asset depreciation ‒ and limit the automated generation of accurate reports and forecasts.

To eliminate data silos and crowdsource plans enterprise-wide, SAP partners can use SAP Analytics Cloud and integrate it with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, the SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain solution, SAP SuccessFactors solutions, and other intelligent technologies. By reducing the need for extensive IT support for everyday administration requests, our partners enable customers to generate strategic insights to accelerate planning cycles and drive precise decisions and actions with up-to-date, accurate planning information.

Building Greater Agility with Prototypes

To align finance, operations, and the corporate strategy, SAP partners unify organization-wide planning processes using an extended planning and analysis methodology. They can guide customers through their implementation of SAP Analytics Cloud, refining planning and forecasting models business-wide to achieve faster, more efficient responses to changing market requirements.

The combination of the user-friendly planning features of SAP Analytics Cloud and the coaching support of our partners can empower SAP customers with the skills to develop and deploy planning projects without additional IT assistance. The intuitive features can also help the team create prototypes quickly and flexibly, so that different stakeholders can easily provide input and planning models can be adjusted as required.

In addition, our partners work with customers to prototype innovations, working to accelerate project deployments and incorporate stakeholder ideas over time. In return, customers can develop solutions that work best for all business areas in a short time frame.

Optimizing Forecasts with Predictive Analytics

Driven by a commitment to groundbreaking advancements in business processes and technologies, SAP customers rely on partner expertise to make radical operational shifts. They often seek more efficient ways to execute forecasting processes ‒ that were initially manual and time-consuming ‒ across their decentralized business units.

Drawing on historical data, SAP partners are helping customers take advantage of the embedded predictive planning capabilities of SAP Analytics Cloud to help generate faster and more trusted forecasts. Customers can leverage these new forecasting abilities to automate tens of thousands of previously manual tasks to streamline the overall planning process and free their workforce to focus more on value-added activities. More importantly, they can leverage powerful analytics to further the success of their business outcomes while achieving operational efficiencies and realizing the ultimate vision for their business and industry.

Planning for Growth with Continuous Improvement

If there was ever a good time to improve planning and analytics, it’s now.

With the expertise and support of SAP partners, organizations can attain the assistance necessary to get started with SAP Analytics Cloud and move forward – continuously improving their planning and analytics capabilities. And no matter how profoundly complex or challenged their marketplace, these new capabilities can enable them to make sound decisions, resulting in accelerated agility and growth.

To learn more about how SAP partners are helping businesses transition to the cloud with a unified technology platform, read “Turning the Cloud into a High-Powered Innovation Engine.” If you’re interested in software partnership opportunities with SAP, check out SAP PartnerEdge, Build. If you’re already a partner, explore these exciting initiatives: Hack2Build and SAP Co-Innovation Lab.

Tom Le is global vice president of Partner Solution Advisory at SAP.

*Gartner, Market Guide for Cloud, Extended Planning and Analysis Solutions, Robert Anderson, Greg Leiter, 29 July 2021. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.