Is your company still using a static, siloed approach when it comes to strategizing and planning? This used to be the way of the world, and for many companies, it still is. Unfortunately, this process, which often involves various templates that look different for each department, is inefficient and cumbersome for the team that’s responsible for consolidating all of this data. When individual teams focus on their own roadmaps, it’s incredibly difficult to bring everything together into a unified corporate plan.

These issues become particularly apparent when decisions need to be made at a global organizational level. Finance teams are forced to scramble to collect and analyze financial and operational data that comes in a variety of formats that are inconsistent from one department to the next. As companies begin to grow and scale, these solutions quickly become insurmountable, failing to allow for pivots and adjustments that might need to be made quickly.

In situations outlined above, the process becomes more about refining results and less about strategizing an overall, company-wide plan.

In order to succeed, finance departments and organizations need to be able to factor in all internal operational and financial data in a unified platform, as well as gather data that comes from external sources. For instance, successful companies should also be looking at data related to customer sentiment, economic conditions, and consumer trends. If you’re able to marry multiple data sources together, you’ll be better able to plan and forecast your decision-making processes in ways that are backed by actual, relevant information.

With this in mind, how can your organization be put in a position that enables the refinement and reforecasting of data as quickly as possible? Here are five ideas:

1. Strategic Planning

Planning can’t happen by finance or any other department until there’s an understanding of where the company wants to go (and where it’s actually heading). Strategic plans set long-term goals—usually two to five years—building the foundation from which all other company plans should grow.

Goals need to be action-oriented and provide specifically measurable metrics by which you can evaluate the progress, successes, and opportunities involved with one. A solid strategic plan also incorporates milestones because they help set the direction of the project and define the success of a project. Your milestones should incorporate KPIs that are important to those specific goals so you have a better understanding of the performance you’re garnering from those initiatives.

2. Scenario Planning

Scenario planning will help you control costs and mitigate risks, both of which ultimately should lead to a competitive advantage. This process involves a combination of projections, budgets, and forecasts so you can accurately see which opportunities and successes lie in future endeavors, as well as which business drivers would impact those activities.

Great scenario plans give decision-makers total transparency into potential problems that could bottleneck the project, as well as the likelihood that each will occur. Stakeholders are then able to see a framework for each strategy so they can provide more productive and educated insights into your organization’s future planning processes.

Your finance team should lean on scenario planning as a means of examining potential outcomes of different economic or investment opportunities. This process allows finance experts to utilize real-life information when they make decisions that ultimately involve all facets of the company. One thing that’s often difficult for new adopters of this idea: success does mean all operational teams need to work together to jointly create models.

3. Utilizing External Data Sources

It’s important to be forward-looking when you plan strategies, beyond scenario- and strategic-planning initiatives. This means you need to factor in various elements that might otherwise be out of your control, such as seasonality, weather, unemployment conditions, and supply-and-demand situations that might affect your company’s ability to deliver products or generate revenue. When you’re armed with data, you’ll be better able to visually see how these outside influences impact your profits and losses.

With the better use of data, along with an ongoing history of information collection, you’ll be more capable of making effective decisions going forward.

4. Gathering Customer Feedback

Your customers’ feedback needs to inform your future marketing and sales efforts, as well as your future companywide planning strategies. When you understand what your biggest or most profitable accounts think—and what’s producing within those accounts—you’ll be in a position to enhance your financial and operational models.

What’s important here? Don’t forget about your customer-facing teams! Create a regular cadence of touch bases with these departments so you can learn about the opportunities and challenges your existing customers are facing. When you have this information, you can create roadmaps to help your customers solve their challenges, optimize your efforts, and build a great reputation for your brand by being seen as a company that listens to the needs of the people who contract with you.

5. Integrating Planning Technology

Really successful companies utilize today’s technology to break down walls and remove silos from their organizations. If you choose a well-integrated planning software, you’ll soon benefit from accuracy and connectivity across your entire enterprise. When you have a software solution that’s well-integrated from department to department, you can identify patterns in financial and operational data so you can make the most accurate forecasts possible. Not to mention, robust dashboards and predictive reports will help lead the way and remove manual work that would otherwise exist with disparate systems.

How MIBAR Can Help with Your Companywide Planning Needs

Companywide planning is a process, and it’s not likely to happen overnight. With that said, when you have a great partner at the helm, everything is a lot easier. At MIBAR, our goal is to help you take practical steps so you can achieve your strategic goals. Visibility is key, and we can help shine the light on outstanding opportunities.

NetSuite Planning and Budgeting enables quick adoption of world-class planning and budgeting across lines of businesses with flexible and customizable deployment options. Talk to our team of NetSuite experts today.