In a rapidly changing business climate, enterprises depend on their financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams to model ever-more-complex business scenarios, manage changing business needs, and deliver data-driven action recommendations in real time.
Modern FP&A operations need to move beyond their traditional responsibilities of financial budgeting and variance analysis and provide continuous aligned financial and operational forecasting that drives intelligent and timely business decisions.
But financial planning functions at many organizations rely on legacy processes and technology that can compromise those ambitions. Manual systems, siloed data, and static planning can’t deliver critical transparency and shared insights in anything close to real time. Even powerful legacy applications may lack the flexibility to handle organization-wide planning or scalability for growth. Other tools, such as those built on spreadsheets, may be flexible but lack the power and scale for connected enterprise-wide planning.
To enable quick decision making, drive business growth, and protect their organization’s leadership position, FP&A teams need to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) into their processes and planning technology to support predictive data-driven forecasts, ad hoc scenarios, and what-if analyses.
A planning platform that seamlessly integrates AI and ML can allow financial planners to produce increasingly accurate and predictive plans, enhance insights, and drive innovation across the enterprise, enabling teams to optimize demand forecasts to consider complex variables, robust models, and real-time data. A modern planning solution, with embedded AI and ML, can eliminate time-consuming and error-prone manual efforts, allow modeling that uses unlimited scenarios and regressors, and quickly produce invaluable insights to augment decision making.
Intelligent AI-powered planning solutions can also continuously learn from your data, offering immediate insights into anomalies and quickly catching and eliminating errors by alerting users to data outside the norm. As AI continuously learns from feedback, accuracy and efficiency can continually improve.
Teams equipped with AI-powered solutions can generate powerful comparative analytics in real time, using outlier reporting to compare forecasts, budgets, and what-if scenarios against AI- and ML-driven forecasts to efficiently identify areas with significant differences. This real-time analysis can help ensure accuracy and increase predictability.
And teams can even use predictive forecasting capabilities that introduce historical data—as well as other external data such as weather forecasts, labor statistics, and marketing data—to see what may lie ahead, to enrich and improve forecasts.
Real-Time Customer Needs
Until recently, finance professionals at Team Car Care—the largest franchisee of Jiffy Lube stores, with 500 outlets in 26 states—relied on traditional spreadsheets as their primary FP&A solution.
When the pandemic spiked consumer demand for used cars, driving huge growth in the automotive aftercare services market, those legacy spreadsheets were no longer powerful enough to help the company use the opportunity to grow. Team Car Care chose to replace its decades-old planning platform and its spreadsheets with adaptive FP&A tools, automating its planning processes and positioning itself for growth.
Today, the company uses a modern planning solution, with AI and ML capabilities, to forecast how many customers will stop by individual Jiffy Lube stores at various times during the day, or during various weather conditions, and integrate that customer count into its sales and workforce plans.
The retailer’s FP&A team can now forecast how many of the 500 products that each store carries will need to be in stock at any point, so it can automate replenishment.
Additionally, it can now collect and analyze point-of-sale data to simplify accounting and to help determine and plan for what its customers buy in the store and how long each customer’s car spends in the repair bay.
AI models trained on millions of users and billions of transactions can use your organization’s data to deliver trustworthy, actionable insights to help your business succeed. With AI and ML built into a modern planning solution, your FP&A team can immediately solve hundreds of business problems that once required far more time and manual intervention.
When your organization’s planning team has the power, scale, and flexibility it needs within its planning solution, it no longer needs to build and manage disconnected models that compromise efficiency and accuracy or to plan at a level that limits effectiveness and growth. Equipping your FP&A team with a modern planning platform that has AI and ML built in can give your team the power to help your organization plan, strategize, and succeed.
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