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Important activities like budgeting, forecasting, and financial reporting can result in high levels of stress for business owners, department heads, and even financial planning & analysis professionals. Even though planning can get overwhelming, it shouldn’t make you lose sleep at night.

This article gives a high-level overview of how businesses can streamline planning and business intelligence workflows to make better-informed decisions. We’ll be looking into some potential cloud-based solutions and discuss how it would make sense for your business. Then, we will dive deeper into how to use these resources, and some key resources and next steps.

The Importance of Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A)

Finance has a lot of pressure. Over the past few years, CFOs and their teams have evolved into strategic business partners. They are being asked to deliver meaningful business intelligence to the C-suite, provide fast decision-making across the organization, and steer the ship in a profitable – and sustainable – direction.

That’s why having the right system in place is so crucial. To support a company’s major business decisions and overall financial health, Finance needs to be able to combine financial data, operational data, and external data (like market trends) in one place. And the only way to do that is with the Cloud.

Cloud for Financial Planning and Analysis

Traditionally, FP&A software was deployed on premise, but cloud-based solutions offer a lot of opportunity. They provide businesses with the ability to:

  • Connect to more big data sources than their on-premises counterparts

  • Access from anywhere

  • Collaborate easily

  • Scale across the enterprise

  • Keep costs down

Recent advancements in cloud security have also made data more secure, in many cases, than if it were to be stored on premise.

Cloud-based solutions also provide teams with the latest in innovative technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. This helps teams to identify the top influencers of their strategic, operational, and financial plans with just the click of a button. They can also predict future benefits automatically to save time and improve business outcomes.

Benefits of Cloud-based Solutions

One of the major benefits of cloud-based planning solutions is removing the reliance on spreadsheets, which is time-consuming, can lead to errors, and create siloes.

Other benefits include:

  • Save on costs: Since you would only need a single platform for both planning and business intelligence, you will save on extra expenses.

  • More accountability and better metrics: Increase financial planning accountability across all areas of your business. You will also be able to tackle planning challenges with scalable insights and real-time metrics.

What Does Cloud-based Planning Look Like?

You can access planning data anytime, anywhere, in the cloud. And if you’re wondering whether using SAP Analytics Cloud is the right solution for your organization’s business intelligence and planning needs, we’ll show you how!

  • Building Stories: In SAP Analytics Cloud, a story is a collection of pages, each consisting of tables, charts, and graphs that are based on your planning and analytics models- think of it as your main dashboard. To help you stay organized, each page in a story can be given a custom title and purpose. For example, you may want a high-level KPI overview page, and then create subsequent pages that investigate each individual KPI in more detail.

  • Testing with version management: Anyone on your team who has planning capabilities in SAP Analytics Cloud can make copies of data (such as budget or forecast) and save it as private versions. These private versions enable individuals to change values without compromising public data. This gives planners the ability to try different what-if scenarios within their data before making final decisions.

  • Predict your forecast with a click: In planning, forecasts use historical data, business acumens, planning models, predictive forecasting, and planning functions such as spreading, distributions and allocations, to determine possible future outcomes. Which means, you can leverage predictive analytics through what-if scenarios and predictive forecasting.Creating forecasts for future values on public and private versions is easy. When setting up your forecast, you decide how many periods you want to forecast for and what historical data to consider. Roche, one of our customers, has been working to improve healthcare for over a century. They optimized the financial forecast process with predictive planning! Check out their story to see how our customers are succeeding with FP&A.

  • Streamline business processes using collaboration tools: To increase accountability and cut down on multiple communication channels, SAP Analytics Cloud incorporates collaboration tools so stakeholders can communicate in context without leaving the platform.

The financial planning & analysis process is essential for all businesses working towards strategic goals, but this process doesn’t have to be painful. With integrated planning and business intelligence, businesses make better-informed decisions in a fraction of the time. So, you can start planning in the cloud today!

Here are some resources that can help you get started:

  1. Watch an overview video

  2. Request a demo

  3. Read the info sheet

  4. Check out more answerers on community 

  5. Ask questions about Financial Planning on community