Pain points of business planning and forecasting



70% to 80% of companies are in the mature stage of the business life cycle. In this phase the demand for goods and services has been saturated resulting in the slow or declining growth. There is a constant pressure to grow market share. In order to stay profitable, companies need to cut costs particularly in hyper competitive environments. In this kind of market condition, it becomes important for companies to plan and forecast efficiently.

This blog talks about the challenges or pain points in a traditional financial planning process and why it is imperative to have a planning process that is execution focused and one that promotes efficiency.

Challenges in Planning and Forecasting

Planning and forecasting is tedious, mundane and a sequential business activity that rarely secures the proper attention by the stewards within a company. The data gathering and compilation stages of a planning process are usually relegated to the back office. Back office personnel require input and validation of market knowledge that is in the possession of field staff. Any output or ‘Plan’ that is unilaterally compiled by the back office units is subject to significant resistance by operational staff. The lack of ownership of a business plan is perhaps the biggest reason impeding a company’s ability to achieve objectives in today’s environment.

Lack of ownership of a business plan can be attributed to the following:

  • Planning teams rarely seeking 360 degrees feedback
  • Poorly calibrated targets whereby they are too heavily influenced from the top

Companies fall into a syndrome of missing plans. Rather than changing the planning process, companies react by deploying more staff and allocating more time to the compilation stage. To their dismay there is rarely any meaningful improvement in the achievement of results.

Common pain points in traditional planning process:


  • Process is heavily back office driven.
  • Process is spreadsheet driven. Staff is talented in data management and developing spreadsheets but rarely has sufficient market knowledge
  • Changing Market Conditions are inadequately reflected in business assumptions because there is a disconnect between the field staff and back office
  • Communication of the plan objectives and business imperatives throughout the organization is ineffective
  • Re-forecasting is very time consuming and recalibration of the plan is slow


  • Company executives spend more time in compilation than on strategy and analysis
  • Increased number of companies have been missing earnings
  • Increased number of companies are filing supplementary or 10K reports
  • Fewer companies providing earnings guidance
  • Missed earnings culminates in significant erosions of the market cap

Additional Problems:

The problem is exacerbated in regulated/mature industries.

In regulated industries:

  • More time is required by the back office staff to discharge compliance requirements
  • More onerous capital requirements have the effect of diluting returns

In mature industries:

  • Zero sum game culminates in lower EBITDA margins
  • Business retention is difficult

How effective the current software solutions are:

In the current market conditions, it is imperative that companies plan and execute efficiently. The software solutions that are in the market are mostly old accounting software packages that have been modified to provide forecasting and budgeting functionality. Although new modules have been added to provide forecasting functionality, the fact is these solutions were built many years ago on old technologies. These are big dinosaur solutions that are not adaptable and do not provide flexible workflows to foster alignment throughout the organization.

The problems with these solutions are that they:

  • still promote back office planning
  • still support traditional sequential planning
  • are very inflexible, complex and cumbersome

Most of the companies do need help in effectively building and executing a plan, but they do not want to spend large capital on software solutions. A majority of the solutions are very expensive and try to solve every problem, and hence clients do not get bang for their buck.

In the next section ‘Take the pain out of planning and forecasting‘ ( we will talk about an enterprise-wide software solution that is light weight and focussed only on business planning and monitoring.

Next: ‘Take the pain out of planning and forecasting‘ (

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Take the pain out of planning and forecasting

Top 6 pain points of the planning and forecasting process:

In the previous post ‘Pain points of business planning and forecasting’ (, we talked about common pain points of a traditional planning and forecasting process.

  •  Back office driven
  •  Spreadsheet driven
  •  Cumbersome and fragmented
  •  Inconsistent performance
  •  Risk management is an afterthought
  •  Long cycle time

How to fix the problem:

In the current market conditions, it is imperative that companies plan and execute efficiently. Although there are many tactics to address the challenges, simplicity and streamlining the process can unlock significant quick wins. To this end, it is imperative any process embody the following characteristics:

  • Planning activities require the endorsement of CEO’s office
  • The process needs to be streamlined and ideally should be a ‘round-trip’
  • All key stakeholders should have the ability to challenge/provide input to key assumptions
  • Automated solution

The existing planning and forecasting solutions in the market still follow the traditional back office driven planning process and are very expensive to implement. In current market conditions companies need software that supports iterative planning and fosters organizational alignment. They need a software that can be implemented quickly and makes the planning an ongoing process and not an event.

With over two decades of IT experience with a focus on financial services and a business driven approach, we launched Octopus, a state of the art business planning solution.


Octopus is a unique software solution that has been developed using the latest and greatest technologies and is focused only on business planning, forecasting and monitoring. It is a light weight software that is very adaptable and can be tailored to any budgeting structure of an organization. This software fosters:

  • Organizational alignment
  • Ruthless efficiency and accuracy
  • A sales driven culture
  • Iterative planning

Rapid Impact:

Ease of use: Simple and intuitive interface and spreadsheet like look and feel makes it very easy to use. 

Ease of deployment: Octopus can be deployed and configured very fast and companies can be onboard within weeks.

Access anywhere: Support for all browsers, tablets and mobile devices.

 Flexible workflow: Ability to setup any organization structure (multi company and multi location). Each business unit and stakeholders can participate in the planning process and the solution provides a central control.

Completely integrated: Can be easily integrate with other systems in the enterprise (e.g. policy system, Claims system).

Security: Role based security

Key Octopus Features

Following are some of the key business features of Octopus:

  • Complete workflow to facilitate a top down and bottom up approach to financial planning
  • An iterative approach to financial planning, to ensure opportunities are properly resourced
  • Involves the front line staff in compilation stage thereby reducing cycle time. This also allows business leaders to allocate more time on analysis and communication of targets
  • Provides ability to recalibrate the plan by allowing operations to re-forecast as market conditions change
  • Provides a comprehensive and flexible dashboard to for all the users to provide both forward looking and backward looking view
  • Allows to seek input from all relevant parties in the planning process which significantly enhances buy in
  • Helps create a sales driven culture which will help ensure key opportunities are exploited
  • Fosters organizational alignment by involving all the key stakeholders
  • Comprehensive goal setting and monitoring at all leadership levels culminates in tighter ownership and accountability
  • Drill down capability in sales, expenses stimulates broader and deeper discussions vis-a-vis tactical strategies
  • Early warning system which allows senior leadership to gain a pulse of emerging risks
  • Standardized output includes pro forma MCT enabling CEO, CFO and CRO to discharge regulatory compliance requirements
  • Financial statements and trending capability.
  • Multi currency support
  • Built in data quality and data governance

For more information and requesting a demo please visit the website:

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