For many businesses, the planning and reporting of activities are two quite separate functions, managed in rather different ways. Planning/budgeting is often done in spreadsheets: frequently at a high level, and often relying heavily on the knowledge and experience of the person doing the planning. Actual sales are typically visible in a separate reporting tool entirely, such as Business Objects.
Frequently, people have to copy summary information from the reporting system into a spreadsheet, just to allow actual sales to be viewed alongside the plan. Occasionally, those actual sales might require changing the forecast for a marketing campaign, in which case letting this revised forecast flow through to other parts of the business is very difficult.
Integrating planning with reporting saves time…
The Compas approach is to combine planning and analysis seamlessly into the same system. For example, marketers can enter basic information about campaigns and this is transformed into a sales forecast and full profit and loss account. These ‘mini P&Ls’ by campaign and week are aggregated to generate the overall forecast for the business. Actual sales are fed from the transactional systems and allocated to the appropriate marketing activity, allowing drill down from a top-level overview right to the individual elements of the marketing campaign to identify the causes of any over- or under-performance. Algorithms, which run automatically once the previous day’s actual sales are loaded, suggest revised forecasts for the eventual campaign outcome (automated campaign reforecasting). The marketing department typically takes the final decision on whether to accept the reforecast, but if they do, changes instantly propagate to all parts of the system (demand forecast, financial forecast etc.), ensuring all departments are working from a single version of the plan.
…and benefits both functions
Combining the planning and evaluation of marketing activities (e.g. trade promotions or direct marketing) into the same set of tools benefits both functions. It promotes better feedback from historical performance into the planning process, and ensures that actual sales can be viewed in the context of the original plan (and subsequent revisions) without the need for laborious copying of data. Automated reporting can save the marketing team a lot of effort, so that instead of spending their Monday morning putting together the sales report, they can spend that time thinking about what that report reveals.
The end result is that businesses can improve the targeting of the marketing budget, deliver better customer service and allow their marketing team to focus on the sorts of tasks that cannot be automated - such as thinking of new ways to delight their customers.
The same is true when planning other business activities such as those driving supply, or when evaluating investment decisions. Separating the planning (in spreadsheets) from subsequent reporting makes it harder to monitor those activities, and less likely that lessons will feed back into future planning.
Compas does all this and more
Compas was designed from the bottom up with the needs of marketers, finance managers and business planners in mind. As well as integrating planning and reporting, it provides a host of powerful analytics to deliver actionable insights into what delivers the best return on investment.
Compas turns plans into forecasts - of supply and demand, of volumes, phone calls, revenues and profits - always ensuring that everything is tied back to the underlying business activities. Anything that is currently being planned in a spreadsheet would benefit from being migrated to Compas, whose industrial-strength database allows greater detail, integrates better with other systems and reduces business risk, compared with using Excel.
Contact us now to arrange a demo for your organisation.