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        Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

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        Board Enables High-Performing FP&A Organizations

        Board offers a platform that enables financial planning and analysis (FP&A) groups to forecast, plan, budget, analyze and report, using a consistent set of data from across the business to speed these processes, improve forecast and planning accuracy, and accelerate analysis and reporting. Board was categorized as an Exemplary Vendor in our Ventana Research Business Planning Value Index, with leading in Manageability and Reliability.   

        Rapidly changing conditions and multiple potential outcomes have put a premium on business owners having answers to what-if questions right away and have put an end to, “I’ll get back to you on that” as an acceptable answer. Today, senior executives also need a way to plan interactively with their direct reports, focusing on their business plan and the impact it has on the financial statements. This is especially important now because, although the starting bell didn’t ring at the time, the era that will be called “the 21st century” began in 2020, as ructions in the world’s economies, markets and business caused by the pandemic, wars and artificial intelligence (AI) first thundered and quickly echoed.  

        The reverberations show no sign of stopping, which is why organizations continue to focus on improving their ability to become resilient in the face of rapidly changing circumstances. One way of enabling rapid adaptation while improving performance is by using software that supports Integrated Business Planning (IBP), a high-participation approach that brings together operational and financial planning across an entire organization. Combined, the two serve as a business management tool that addresses the needs of all executives and managers by focusing on supporting better decisions that improve organizational and individual performance while respecting financial constraints and objectives. Using the right technology enables individual business units to plan in a way that makes best sense to them while enabling senior executives to view and explore these plans from a headquarters perspective to promote better organizational performance.  

        Board’s platform helps organizations accomplish this with software that enables a collaborative, action-oriented approach to planning and budgeting built on frequent, short planning sprints. Short planning cycles enable organizations to achieve greater agility in responding to market or competitive changes. High participation promotes buy-in (it’s not just the finance department’s budget) and ensures that front-line perspectives are aligned with top-down objectives and consistent with financial constraints and goals. 

        Board’s software supports the changing role for the FP&A group, taking advantage of what’s now possible with practical and affordable technology. Instead of playing a relatively narrowVentana_Research_2023_Assertion_BusPlanning_IBP_FPandA_12_S role in managing the company-wide budget and periodic analyses and reforecasts, FP&A should redefine its mission to support the rest of the organization and making business planning more effective, providing more insight into performance. To facilitate the planning process, support high participation and shorten planning and budgeting cycles, FP&A must design and implement streamlined processes that reduce the time required to create and update plans and budgets. They must also enable a structured dialog about plans and budgets as well as facilitating analysis and reporting of results. Ventana Research asserts that by 2026, one-fourth of FP&A organizations will have implemented IBP, bringing together operational and financial planning on a single platform to improve the business value of planning and budgeting. Those that do will enable executives to execute strategy more effectively.  

        The ability of Board’s users to execute short planning cycles is supported by a visual workflow management system that facilitates the definition of planning process steps and approvals. There is an embedded chat system that facilitates communication within and across planning groups as well as the ability to quickly create virtual planning teams, because enterprise planning is always a collaborative effort. 

        Board also offers AI capabilities using machine learning (ML) to facilitate predictive analytics and simulation capabilities. These enable analysts to quickly model multiple scenarios andVentana_Research_BR_OOF_19_36_Adoption_of_Advanced_Analytics_2023-png rapidly assess their impact in detail. With black swan incidents becoming common, organizations need to consider a wide range of environments and assess potential outcomes to ensure the agility to respond quickly. The Board Enterprise Analytics Modelling capability evaluates the characteristics of time series to assist in model creation. The platform also facilitates the use of predictive analytics, without requiring staff to have high-level statistical or analytical skills. This is important because our Office of Finance Benchmark Research finds that only 24% of organizations utilize predictive analytics in planning and forecasting. 

        Productivity is one of the most important characteristics of reporting software, including the ability of business analysts to quickly create reports using readily available data that can be automatically refreshed. Rather than relying on FP&A or business analysts to generate reports, executives and managers must have self-service capabilities to create or personalize their own reports on the fly, and drill down and around to explore data in detail. Reporting tools must also offer the most used and well-understood visualizations to facilitate interpreting the meaning of the underlying data. 

        Board hosts its platform on Microsoft Azure, which has data centers around the world — important for compliance with data residency requirements. Cloud-based planning systems facilitate distributed and global planning efforts. They can be more cost effective, especially for planning and analysis, which is prone to spikes in activity and required computing resource. Cloud systems also can be elastic, rather than requiring a trade-off between heavy investments in equipment and poor performance. 

        I strongly recommend that organizations adopt an IBP approach to deal with the current predictably unpredictable times, as well as the likelihood of a return to some sort of normalcy in the future. I recommend assessing Board as a vendor to support that effort. 

        Regards,

        Robert Kugel

        Authors:

        Robert Kugel
        Executive Director, Business Research

        Robert Kugel leads business software research for Ventana Research, now part of ISG. His team covers technology and applications spanning front- and back-office enterprise functions, and he personally runs the Office of Finance area of expertise. Rob is a CFA charter holder and a published author and thought leader on integrated business planning (IBP).

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