The process of financial planning & analysis can result in spreadsheet fueled nightmares revolving around mistakes, multiple copies, and cumbersome approval processes. 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.
At SAP, we don’t think planning should make you lose sleep at night. That’s why we’re setting a new standard for financial planning & analysis by combining business intelligence and planning tools into a single application: SAP Analytics Cloud.
SAP Analytics Cloud empowers your business to:
- Save on costs with a single platform for both planning and business intelligence
- Streamline business processes using built-in collaboration tools
- Increase financial planning accountability across all areas of your business
- Tackle planning challenges with scalable insights and real-time metrics
- Leverage predictive analytics through what-if scenarios and predictive forecasting
- Access planning data anytime, anywhere, in the cloud
How it works
If you’re wondering if using SAP Analytics Cloud is the right solution for your organization’s business intelligence and planning needs, keep reading. This article gives a high-level overview of how businesses can streamline planning and business intelligence workflows to make better-informed decisions.
Create your planning model
In order to use SAP Analytics Cloud for planning you’ll have to import your business data. However, before you can import any data you have to define how it will be structured by creating a planning model.
A planning model is a representation of your business data, it looks like a chart of accounts. When you create your model, you’ll define hierarchical relationships between accounts, account types, add formulas, currencies, and determine your organizational structure. Models will provide the basis for your planning and analysis in SAP Analytics Cloud.
Once your model is defined, you’ll complete the process by importing your data. In this stage, you can add the different version types of your data such as actuals, budget, and forecasts. Your data can be imported from external data sources or by integrating with SAP on-premise systems such as SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation.
Video Resource: step by step guide to creating a planning model in SAP Analytics Cloud
Build stories for planning, reporting, and analysis
Traditional reporting processes are often inconsistent, cumbersome, and lengthy to say the least. In some cases, these complicated processes result in lost opportunities and are detrimental to business. To streamline the reporting workflow and increase agility, SAP Analytics Cloud integrates planning, analysis, and reporting on a single dashboard. We call this dashboard a story.
A story is a collection of pages, each consisting of tables, charts, and graphs that are based on your planning and analytics models. 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.
Within stories, planners can:
- Modify data values by typing new values, copy and paste, or through direct entry by %
- Create allocation rules without requiring complex script-based modeling
- Set up reporting formulas
- Perform simple or advanced calculations
- Define KPI thresholds to add conditional formatting to charts and graphs
- Use filters to drill down to the level of a single data point
Test your theories 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.
Private versions can be shared to different individuals within your business, and will not overwrite a public version until approved.
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.
Creating forecasts for future values on public and private versions is easy. Simply select a value in the grid corresponding to the account you want to forecast on and click forecast. When setting up your forecast, you decide how many periods you want to forecast for and what historical data to take into account.
Collaborate with your team
In order 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.
Collaboration features give individuals the ability to:
- Start discussions with individuals or groups
- Access discussions from anywhere in the workspace
- Comment on individual visualizations
- Assign tasks & send reminders to team members
Start planning in the cloud today
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.