Our benchmark research on next-generation business planning finds that a large majority of companies rely on spreadsheets to manage planning processes. For example, four out of five use them for supply chain planning, and about two-thirds for budgeting and sales forecasting. Spreadsheets are the default choice for modeling and planning because they are flexible. They adapt to the needs of different parts of any type of business. Unfortunately, they have inherent defects that make them problematic when used in collaborative, repetitive enterprise processes such as planning and budgeting. While it’s easy to create a model, it can quickly become a barrier to more integrated planning across the business units in an enterprise. As I’ve noted before, software vendors and IT departments have been trying – mainly in vain – to get users to switch from spreadsheets to a variety of dedicated applications. They’ve failed to make much of a dent because although these applications have substantial advantages over spreadsheets when used in repetitive, collaborative enterprise tasks, these advantages are mainly realized after the model, process or report is put to use in the “production” phase (to borrow an IT term).
Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Marketing Planning, Reporting, Sales Forecasting, Budgeting, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Business Planning, Demand Planning, Integrated Business Planning
Adaptive Insights held its annual user group meeting recently. A theme sounded in several keynote sessions was the importance of finance departments playing a more strategic role in their companies. Some participating customers described how they have evolved their planning process from being designed mainly to meet the needs of the finance department into a useful tool for managing the entire business. Their path took them from doing basic financial budgeting to planning focused on improving the company’s performance. This is one of the more important ways in which finance organizations can play a more strategic role in corporate management, an objective that more finance organizations are pursuing. Half of the companies participating in our Office of Finance benchmark research said that their finance organization has undertaken initiatives to enhance its strategic value to the company within the last 18 months.
Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Human Capital, Marketing, Reporting, Sales Forecasting, Budgeting, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Business Planning, Supply Chain, Demand Planning, Integrated Business Planning, Project Planning
Most people in business management admit that sales is more an art than a science. Organizations have long struggled to find the right mix to improve its effectiveness, and few get the most out of available technology. For many the default is still to use sales force automation (SFA) and spreadsheets to manage processes and try to increase the productivity of sales staff. In our view they should take a holistic approach to sales processes from contact to close and support everything from sales forecasting to pipeline management to compensation with applications designed for these purposes. Those in sales operations need to apply analytics to understand and fine-tune sales activities. Those in sales management need applications that can help recruit, engage and retain the best talent. Even more than elsewhere in business, in sales people matter, and the organizations that most empower their teams are likely to get the best results. Optimizing people and processes requires a balance of information and technology to support the various needs of the sales organization.
Business planning includes all of the forward-looking activities in which companies routinely engage. Companies do a great deal of planning. They plan sales and determine what and how they will produce products or deliver services. They plan the head count they’ll need and how to organize distribution and their supply chain. They also produce a budget, which is a financial plan. The purpose of planning is to be successful. Planning is defined as the process of creating a detailed formulation of a program of action to achieve some overall objective. But it’s more than that. The process of planning involves discussions about objectives and the resources and tactics that people need to achieve them. When it’s done right, planning is the best way to get everyone onto the same page to ensure that the company is well organized in executing strategy. Setting and to a greater degree changing the company’s course require coordination. Being well coordinated in this case means being able to understanding the impact of the policies and actions in your part of the company on the rest of the company.
Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital, Marketing, Office of Finance, Reporting, Sales Forecasting, Budgeting, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Business Planning, Supply Chain, Demand Planning, Integrated Business Planning, Project Planning, S&OP
Sales forecasting is an essential process for most businesses. It helps guide the efforts not only of the sales function but also of finance, operations, manufacturing and customer service. Our recently released sales forecasting benchmark research reveals significant insights and best practices that can help companies optimize the effectiveness of this process. I recently wrote that most sales organizations need to make significant changes to the way they do sales forecasting. In that analyst perspective, I examined aspects of technology that can make sales forecasting a much more efficient process than it is in most organizations that use software not designed for sales forecasting.
In today’s highly competitive sales environment, where success depends on meeting the specific needs of buyers, an accurate and timely sales forecast is a critical tool for optimizing business outcomes. I discussed this as part of our 2014 research agenda for sales, noting that linking the forecast to commissions, quotas and territories is a requirement for success. We recently completed new benchmark research on sales forecasting to ascertain the state of the processes and technology sales organizations use. This research continues to find less than adequate efforts by organizations to improve their sales forecasting process and insufficient information about the full revenue potential from accounts and customers.
Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Sales Forecasting, Sales Operations, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, SFA
Most organizations see improving the effectiveness of sales as a way to increase productivity. Those organizations that take advantage of the latest sales applications and technology are finding themselves with a competitive advantage, but many organizations lack the time and resources to assess and deploy appropriate platforms. That’s a shame, since most sales organizations have plenty to improve in their selling, forecasting, incentives and planning according to our latest research on sales performance management. We found a high demand even for many of the basics; for instance, many organizations still use personal spreadsheets or outdated applications that are costly to manage. At the same time, marketing organizations are investing heavily to be more revenue- and sales-focused to ensure they maintain relevance and contribute to their organizations’ performance and profitability. Both sales and marketing have fixated on specific processes and how they can work better together.
Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Marketing, PIM, Sales Compensation, Sales Forecasting, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Financial Performance, CPQ, CRM, Product Information Management, SFA
Our benchmark research on business analytics finds that just 13 percent of companies overall and 11 percent of finance departments use predictive analytics. I think advanced analytics – especially predictive analytics – should play a larger role in managing organizations. Making it easier to create and consume advanced analytics would help organizations broaden their integration in business planning and execution. This was one of the points that SPSS, an IBM subsidiary that provides analytics, addressed at IBM’s recent analyst summit.
It’s clear that sales organizations need to be efficient, but many are unaware of critical applications they could deploy to establish sales excellence. In my recent analysis, “Sales Organizations Need a Swift Technology Kick”, I outlined why sales departments have to look beyond using sales force automation (SFA) and spreadsheets and examine dedicated applications for improving productivity and effectiveness. Our benchmark research in sales applications found a new set of application priorities in sales organizations that you should assess to determine how well your sales efforts match up to others’. Also, in most cases, we found the prioritization and needs of sales organizations are not aligned, resulting in wasted time and likely creating a lack of access to accurate information for sales management and operations.
Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Sustainability, Sales Forecasting, IT Research, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, SFA
If you want to hit the booking and revenue targets required to operate a business, you have to manage your sales forecast and pipeline. Optimally you should be able to monitor and act upon them any day of the week and make adjustments whenever you need to. Unfortunately, most organizations have to wait until they finish their manual efforts at the end of the month or quarter, or they miss critical changes in deals and behavior because they rely only on reporting from their sales force automation (SFA) software.
Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Marketing, Revenue Performance, Sales Force Automation, Sales Forecasting, Sales Operations, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, Cloud9 Analytics, CMO, CRM, Sales Performance Management, SFA
At the SAPPHIRE NOW conference this week, SAP released the production version of the cloud-based Sales OnDemand software that it unveiled earlier in the year. There has been a lot of the esoteric commentary of SAP Sales OnDemand from those that exclusively cover the IT industry. Unfortunately the majority of them have never worked in sales or held a quota that prevents a provide a deeper perspective on the relevance to the sales organization and what it can provide to existing SAP customers or those evaluating it for the first time. I covered some critical perspectives in my research agenda on sales as a background to my analysis of this new offering.
Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, SAP, Sales Compensation, Sales Force Automation, Sales Forecasting, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CRM, Sales Performance Management, SFA