For organizations across the globe, planning and forecasting can be quite challenging. As businesses continue expanding digitally and workflow, people, and data grow and become more siloed, leading organizations are capitalizing on business intelligence tools, already being used to drive collaborative analysis, to help drive collaborative and integrated business planning and forecasting, too. Why?
Planning and Forecasting and BI
Historically, companies relied on Excel spreadsheets for Planning, or in more recent decades purpose-built planning programs; including legacy TM1, Hyperion, BPC, or newer options such as Anaplan or Adaptive to paint a picture of their future plans. But error-prone, manual spreadsheets, or costly, complex proprietary systems have many businesses on the lookout for “a better way.”
Microsoft’s Power BI has certainly helped remediate many collaborative decision-making issues. With its ability to convert data silos and spreadsheets into robust visual dashboards, Power BI has become the leading BI tool; second only to Excel. However, unlike its elder sibling, Power BI doesn’t allow for data to be input nor saved for future analysis, planning, or forecasting purposes. And therein lies the rub.
Where BI Falls Short with Planning and Forecasting
As much as Power BI catapults collaborative analysis beyond Excel, its “read-only” nature limits its ability to support Planning and Forecasting. This, in turn, creates a domino effect. Employees, if they identify an issue or opportunity during their analysis in Power BI, are unable to take actionable next steps like what-if scenario analysis thus limiting their ability to respond quickly amidst lightning-quick market changes and turbulent forces. Being “read-only” also means additional manual data manipulation effort to export, collect, rekey, and/or ETL data in other systems, which also leads to data NOT being updated in real-time — but in today’s volatile business world, ‘real-time’ insights are critical to success.
Collaborative Input in Power BI? Yes indeed.
There is no argument that Power BI fuels team members’ ability to collaboratively visualize and ‘view’ the data. But Power BI users have told us they also need features that are conducive to collaborative analysis, PLUS collaborative Data Input and Collection — like Planning and Write-back.. Here are a few key reasons WHY.
- To automate collection of user input across various ‘collaborative processes’ including Sales Planning, Demand forecasting, Capacity planning, FP&A, and more.
- To be able to add individual comments at the data-point level and follow a threaded conversation in real-time — no matter the locale or time zone.
- To unify Analysis and Data-collection in one place — eliminating the need for “spreadsheet gymnastics” and repetitive ETL or ELT.
- To improve organizational efficiency; reducing IT/Analytics Team’s time spent validating data allowing them to devote more time to higher-value initiatives.
- To leverage their Power BI investment, and capitalize on employee skill sets; it’s familiar, it’s flexible, it’s already widely adopted.
- To stay ahead of the curve of market changes by responding in a timely fashion with Dashboards that update in real-time, as data is being entered by front-line decision makers.
Organizations that have chosen to add Planning and Forecasting to their Power BI ecosystem have benefited in numerous ways; a few of which include…
- Unified Analysis and Planning: Power BI with Write-back lets an organization consolidate a number of data sources into one “truth” and collaborate — thus allowing everyone to strategize using the same numbers and data (as opposed to siloed content).
- Processes like Sales Planning and Demand Planning are now streamlined. Keep team structure organized by setting up advanced workflow, and model “What-If” scenarios with pre-existing data. What’s more, you can create forecasts in a click-not-code manner.
- Increased decision making speed and maximized ROI: Planning in Power BI allows for automated data collection and eliminates error-prone data movement. This lets team members focus on more high value activities — including analysis, guidance, and strategic initiatives. By saving time and leveraging automated data, teams can focus on financial initiatives to boost their ROI in real-time.
Capitalize on Power BI for Planning and Forecasting
If you already use Power BI, adding Planning and Write-back isn’t that difficult and can truly supercharge your business. Power ON’s Visual Planner enables unfettered data entry plus extensive communication features — which allow for employees to edit, add comments, do what-if scenarios, and write-back data — all in Power BI, all in real-time.
You already have Power BI; what are you waiting for?
To learn more how you can help in predicting your company’s future with Planning and Forecasting in Power BI, contact us today to schedule a consultation.