Lean Planning:
Planning more efficiently, acting more flexibly


Speed up and streamline planning processes

Long planning cycles and high planning effort due to increasing unpredictability, complexity and a desire for detail are no longer justifiable in many companies today. The BARC study "Lean Planning - Planning more efficiently, acting more flexibly" shows the efforts companies have already made, or plan to make, in order to make their planning processes more efficient and lean so they can respond more quickly and reliably to changing competitive conditions. The study is based on a DACH-wide survey of 352 CPM and BI experts. Scroll down to explore the results.

Lean Planning
Satisfaction with corporate planning

Satisfaction with corporate planning

Non-monetary expenditure (especially the time spent on planning) and the handling of planning processes are the most significant reasons for dissatisfaction with planning in companies today. Satisfaction with the results or the output of planning is traditionally high. Therefore, it is important to optimize the development of planning results. There is considerable dissatisfaction with planning processes, data collection, processing and data provision. All this points to an efficiency issue with planning in many companies, a result similar to the findings of BARC’s maturity study "Integrated Corporate Planning" in 2017.

Inefficient plan data collection with duplicate entries for example consumes too much time, is a danger to data quality and creates no added value. Top-down approaches and automated extrapolations should form a part of modern planning.

The time spent on planning should be restricted to an appropriate minimum to ensure satisfaction with, and acceptance of, the planning process.

Satisfaction with various topics in the context of corporate planning


Measures for a more efficient business planning

Measures for more efficient business planning

Ninety-six percent of the companies surveyed consider measures to increase efficiency as necessary. 80 percent of the companies surveyed are already actively working on initiatives or are in the process of getting them started. Most of the measures to increase efficiency are currently being implemented. Best-in-class companies have a head start in terms of implementing appropriate measures. Laggards are aware that their planning has to become more efficient, but concrete improvement measures designed to increase efficiency in planning are not given the same priority as they are at best-in-class companies. Laggards currently focus more on the effectiveness of their planning, not their efficiency.

Technological adaptation is important and can provide short-term relief, but that alone is not enough to achieve your long-term goals. To increase the maturity of your corporate planning and, alongside efficiency, also its anchoring and acceptance, you must optimize your technology, organization and professionalism all at the same time.

Measures to increase the efficiency of planning in the last two years


Tools used for business planning

Tools for business planning

The trend of adopting specialist planning solutions has continued this year. The use of such planning tools as the main software to support business planning (46 percent) has risen year-on-year (see the BARC maturity study "Integrated Business Planning") and has now overtaken spreadsheets, such as Excel (36 percent). It is inevitable that as corporate planning processes mature, software support requirements will also increase. Functions missing from spreadsheets, for example for centralized data storage, data loading, concurrent editing, permissions, data distribution and unified computing logic, are becoming more and more of a hindrance to implementing advanced planning requirements. Due to these functional gaps, the integration of detailed plans into further CPM processes and comprehensive automation in spreadsheets cannot be satisfactorily realized.

Modern planning tools form the basis for more efficiency and simulation capability. Driver-based planning, top-down orientation, greater automation through predictive planning, and good planning integration must be implemented to meet the needs of your organization. This will create the conditions for increased efficiency and effectiveness in planning.

Use modern approaches for corporate planning for more efficiency and for greater informative value of your planning through simulations and scenarios.

Tools used for corporate planning


Greatest challenges for business planning

Challenges for business planning

The potential for improving the efficiency of business planning is great, so why are there still so many useful measures that have not been implemented at all, or in time? A lack of resources (41 percent), such as competent staff, is a major obstacle here. Large companies and laggards are often hamstrung in this way. Carrying out a cost-benefit analysis for investment in planning helps to pinpoint priorities and can therefore increase the chances of implementation.

Like a lack of resources, unclear responsibilities (27 percent) and poor acceptance of planning as a corporate governance tool (24 percent) are further challenges hindering efficiency-enhancing projects in companies. Lack of or poor software support (22 percent) tends to prevent companies that plan in spreadsheets from improving their solutions. Management often oppose reducing the level of detail of planning, and in many cases they demand a high degree of detail (34 percent).

Biggest challenges in implementing more efficient planning approaches and streamlining planning


Potential for corporate planning

Potential for corporate planning

Simulation, predictive planning and forecasting provide the largest potential for increasing efficiency in today's planning processes (55 percent). This result may seem surprising at first glance, since the BARC study "Corporate Performance Management in the Age of Digitalization" (2017) showed these topics were not necessarily a priority for many companies. A closer look at the results reveals that companies with specialist planning tools in this area are particularly likely to see room for improvement (60 percent). For Excel users, the focus is primarily on improved data processing (52 percent). Software solutions are often introduced with high expectations of supporting simulations. Often, the goals set are not achieved, although the obstacles encountered tend to be professional rather than technical. Not all planning models are equally well suited to performing simulations.

To ensure that the desired simulations and extrapolations can be carried out, the corresponding requirements must already be known during implementation and accorded high priority, otherwise the implementation will be almost impossible or will have to be carried out manually outside the planning solution at great effort.

In which sub-processes of planning do you see potential for increasing efficiency in your company?


Umgesetzte Einzelmaßnahmen zur Verbesserung der Planung

Individual measures in different areas

An in-depth analysis of implemented and planned measures by area shows that, from a technical point of view, standardizing and combining the structures used for planning and their integration into other CPM processes is the most important improvement measure for the majority of the companies surveyed (59 percent). In the difficult issue of organizing planning, the focus for more efficiency lies in better and more centralized control and coordination of planning processes (63 percent). Again, users of powerful, specialist planning tools are under more pressure due to their more thorough planning (more extensive and frequent planning with more planners involved) to channel and coordinate their work adequately to deliver good results on time. This shows how closely linked the three facets of organization, technology and professionalism are. Technological measures to increase efficiency should not be viewed in isolation, but must help to implement and support technical requirements. In order to be able to largely automate the process phases of data provision (actual data, previous years), data collection and data processing, clear process sequences must be defined and adhered to (organization). The structures used should be as identical as possible in order to allow automated processing (professionalism). In order to be able to achieve greater efficiency through increased automation (61 percent), extensive preparatory work must be done.

Planned data entry is not automatically improved even by using specialist planning solutions. Proper modeling and processes must ensure a seamless integration.

What adjustments have been made to planning (or are planned)?


Nutzen der Maßnahmen für die Unternehmensplanung

The benefits for planning

The introduction of more efficient planning approaches and the implementation of measures to streamline corporate planning are almost always beneficial. Only in very rare cases (2 percent) were no benefits realized. The second clear statement that can be derived from the survey data concerns the relationship between efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency and effectiveness are clearly related. The fact that more efficiency also creates greater effectiveness should prompt companies to prioritize efficient solutions. Attention should therefore be paid to the efficiency of planning processes as early as possible, not only when complaints from users arise. In addition, initiatives designed to streamline and speed up planning processes increase the relevance and quality of planning outcomes, improving them in at least 59 percent of cases. The top goals of corporate planning, quality and consistency, are thus achieved. But this also makes it clear that it is necessary to question the traditional because with "more of the same", either efficiency or effectiveness can be improved, but not both at the same time.

What benefits did the introduction of more efficient planning approaches or the streamlining of planning lead to?


For more findings and BARC recommendations, download the full study

With more than 352 participants from the DACH region, the study "Lean Planning: Planning more efficiently, acting more flexibly" is one of the most important studies devoted to the topic of efficient planning. The online user survey was conducted in autumn 2017 in the DACH region with a diverse sample of participants. Respondents came from a wide range of industries, most notably from the industrial sector (34 percent), IT (14 percent), financial services (12 percent), and wholesale and retail (12 percent). Companies in the "more than 2,499 employees" category (45 percent) are the most frequently represented in the study. Other company sizes are also well represented, with 38 percent coming from organizations with 250 to 2,499 employees and 18 percent from companies with less than 250 employees. The study was independently produced by BARC. It has been made available to readers free of charge thanks to sponsorship by Cubeware, Jedox and prevero. This interactive version is provided free of charge thanks to prevero's sponsorship.