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Cloud planning and budgeting in the real world

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6th Dec 2016
Journalist
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This article is written as part of a series on connected planning and budgeting in associated with Oracle.

While cloud technology has delivered real change to planning, budgeting and forecasting tools, much of the discussion focuses on the more theoretical or technical aspects, and often neglects the practical benefits it can deliver to industries or companies.

Oracle’s David Hobson and Deloitte’s Martyn Jermyn have both consulted on implementations for businesses seeking to get the best out of their planning and budgeting tools, and following a recent webinar on connected planning and budgeting they outlined a number of examples of how such tools brought tangible benefits to the companies, including forecasting accuracy and benefits beyond the core financial systems.

The scenarios are broken down by industry or company below, along with a clip filmed alongside the main webinar. To see the full broadcast click on this link and register for free.

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Construction

construction plans laid out across a building site panorama

Construction companies often run highly complex capital projects, often lasting many years, so the execution of these projects and allocation and application of resources are crucial when deciding what to bid for.

Within the construction industry there is an area of cost value reconciliation (CVR) where planning and budgeting tools help companies track the costs incurred during the delivery of the project with more granularity to understand things like margin leakage and any additional costs incurred, either anticipated or not, in an efficient way.

There are many points within each project where costs will have a margin impact, and with such tools in place companies gain a broader perspective on how to manage and deliver their projects better. Such tools distil vital information and filter it to provide near real-time value.

Media

Thousands of blinking monitors representing the future of smart TVs

A highly acquisitive media organisation with its own planning and budget solution had recently bought a number of smaller organisations, and upon bringing them into the group discovered they were relying on spreadsheets.

The decision taken by the company was to roll out their cloud planning, forecasting and budgeting tool to all the organisations with a standardised model, allowing the group entity to get the information they needed to run those businesses and connect them together.

They connected the cloud-based tool within the individual entities up to the group-wide enterprise solution to enable them to get insight and information across the whole of the business, and run their new umbrella company more efficiently.

Financial services

Financial figures ticking along

Another popular area in terms of predictive or ‘what-if’ elements is the financial services industry. In America there are a number of challenger organisations in the lending market. How these firms use the capabilities of planning and budgeting tools is around what data points need to be captured around the companies or individuals that represent the least risk and ideally the most secure or profitable lending clients.

Some of the big banks lend money across a broad spectrum, and their risk profile is such that they almost accept some of the riskier loans so they can focus on some of the higher margin clients, the least risky ones. However, the challenger companies are using planning and budgeting tools to predict the characteristics and demographics of customers to be targeted in terms of high net worth individuals or high value organisations to loan money to.

The challenger companies are able to just focus on the individuals or businesses that are going to be most secure and most profitable for them, and the banks are clearly not particularly happy about this. It’s part of the disruptive nature of the market that there are companies who are leveraging cloud tools to focus on the high margin opportunities.

Aviation

An airport in the foreground while behind it a plane takes off

An airline company’s route planning profitability was viewed as a high-value bit of insight from which the firm would be able to derive all the costs associated with running an aircraft, and compare this against measures such as aircraft capacity and additional in-flight income.

The company used the analytics and forecasting capability within their planning and budgeting tool to allow them to see where break-even occurred for each route, and where profitability occurred as a way to maximise margin, and dig down into less profitable routes to find the cause.

Information services

Call centre employees doing call centrey things

An information services company has over 10,000 employees within their organisation. Some of those work in functions like finance and HR, but a large number work in call centre-type operations providing back-office support. This company uses their planning and budgeting tool to enable them to take data from their on-premise HR system and run a number of ‘what-if’ scenarios over that data, asking structural questions like: ‘if we move some of the individuals we have on temporary contracts to permanent and vice versa, will we see efficiencies?’

The company is also linking some of that information, especially around the call centre, to some of the actual volume information they’re getting around things like service incidence. For example, the business can predict an increase in the number of calls over the next 12 months because they will be releasing a new product or service, and off the back of that (and the average call volumes they know that generates), they can forecast the number of people needed to deal with these calls, look at some of the peaks and troughs, and ultimately end up with a better situation in terms of overall staff costs.

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