The A-Team CFOs Need to Pursue Integrated Planning

Don Mal

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? Guess what – so does the rest of the organization.

It was exactly 10 years ago when a publication called TV Land published “The 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catch Phrases,” and while some may be long forgotten, anyone who’s ever heard of an 80s action series called The A-Team will probably recognize this one: “I love it when a plan comes together.

The line was spoken by John “Hannibal” Smith (played by the late George Peppard), who had to bring a very diverse set of fighters together to take on various missions. This included Mr. T, who made the Mohawk famous, “The Face,” who had a chameleon-like quality in espionage, and Murdock, who was something of a loose cannon. In other words, there was the same strange personality cocktail you’d find in the average finance department and other departments of a large company.

CFOs love it when a plan comes together too, but the challenge is exercising the kind of leadership that a character like Hannibal enjoyed. Integrated planning (sometimes called integrated business planning), has been a Holy Grail in many organizations for years but often just as elusive. In its CFO Agenda report last year, for example, consulting firm PwC tried to make this a bigger priority for business executives:

Perhaps the greatest benefit of integrated planning is that plan ownership is shared across the organization—it’s not just the C-suite’s plan or Finance’s,” the report said. “Unfortunately, many companies struggle to overcome a persistent silo mentality that can undermine efforts to build truly integrated business and budget plans.”

Although PwC suggested that CFOs are already in a good position to break down the siloes that have prevented integrated planning in the past, that’s not the only issue. There’s also been the problem of reconciling different inputs or data and making some sense out of it. A few months ago, an article on argued only now has technology matured to a point where that’s possible:

By increasing organizational alignment through integrated planning and reporting, CFOs demonstrate their value as broad-thinking professionals who contribute to their businesses’ overall health and longevity. To ensure their ongoing success in this role, CFOs need to develop pan-organizational views . . . the ways in which the CFO can respond to questions from the CEO and board of directors are dramatically different from the past. Historical data from both operating and financial systems is already accessible and reconciled in CPM, which makes it available to rapidly perform powerful simulation modeling and multiple what-if scenarios for different options, including assessing various possible risks.

Once you have those scenarios, it’s time to take them to the rest of your senior executive counterparts and plan your next move. Suddenly, everyone looks like they’re a member of the A-Team, too.



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