In the world of strategic planning, the businesses are expanding on various wide scoped scenarios and capabilities that systems and architectures are providing them. When we talk about Planning - there is no process that is common, every company is developing their own steps according to their needs.
Planning applications are being shaped and tailored to the corporate desires as the understanding of what could be planned in a company’s KPIs and measurements or what could be simulated and tested for a given process grows.
BW Integrated Planning provides business experts with an infrastructure for realizing and operating planning scenarios or other applications. Planning covers a wide range of topics from simple data entry to complex planning scenarios. BW Integrated Planning enables companies to make decisions that will increase their efficiency. In addition to analyses of actual data, they are already spending time and effort into use case analysis of plan data. These can be analysis of manually entered data from a business planner or analysis based on historical data in BW Integrated Planning.
OK. But let me get one layer deeper into the subject. Often it is the case that huge companies and corporations run separate planning processes across departments and several teams are responsible for different simulations and scenarios. And this data is being moved from application to application or from one planning layout to the next.
What a certain team meant behind the numbers they entered and aligned is not always clear for the next planner in the process workflow and clarifications are often required. These can take the form of a mail explaining the simulation and figures, or alignment meeting between the two teams, or something specific to the organization – whatever it would be, it is outside of the Planning application. And if it is outside of the application – I see an issue.
And here is the place where Comments planning can be actually very valuable. From a technical perspective, it is nothing fancy or otherwise costly to implement. But it is something that completes a planning application – enables it's integration in the planning process across departments, ensures understanding and accountability of the simulated or aligned plan and saves resources for employees.
Comments add a message to the data – start using them.
While the example above might seem a little vague and something like the personal diary of the Marketing Manager, if we actually dig deeper we will find stronger meaning to it.
Commenting is more than adding text – it is a business process on its own.
And here is one example of a such:
That hasn’t gone unnoticed by our valued partners at SAP. They have created the needed architecture for us to implement and for clients to make use of this.
Currently Planning applications can be built with ease for companies to consume comments across all SAP BusinessObjects solutions – Dashboards in Lumira Designer, Lumira Discovery, Analysis for Office, Crystal Reports. Comments can be created at any level of detail – Report as a whole, Key Figure level, Characteristic level, Hierarchy Nodes or some custom combination of those, even at Line level, where planners and managers can comment at the exact record and ask question or explain it, managers to approve and release them, etc.
Using comments, allows you to accomplish the highest goal in all BW related subjects – a single point of truth and single point of entry.
The additional emails and meetings regarding alignment of planned figures can be avoided. Also, everything is visible to everybody with the proper authorization and remains in the system indefinitely. Simulation via versioning is enabled with ease.
How is the company going to develop the business process of Commenting is up to their needs. One common use case is the following:
It is up to the IBP consultancy to develop a tool which is both useful and looks pleasing. It is about understanding the needs and specifics of its users – if the comments are extremely important for the manager to evaluate the quality of the planning team’s work, then introduce an Approve/Disapprove functionality. Design the comments to be integrated into the crosstab along with the characteristics and key figures or make them more global and introduce them as topics on the homepage of the application itself, like in the next set of examples – line by line commenting and dashboard:
In the end, it is all about what brings value to a process and what doesn’t. The practice has proven that this somewhat unnoticeable feature can be central for a smooth planning process within a huge company. An addition previously considered just as ‘a nice to have’, turned into a well-managed dedicated business process part of the bottomless lake of possibilities called Integrated Planning.