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Business planning with SAP


IT-based planning processes improve planning quality, facilitate adaptability of the planning data and thus enable taking well-founded business decisions and actions.
Business planning with SAP
By planning future flow- and earnings-related figures, goals are being set, framework conditions defined and, last but not least, processes aligned in order to further drive the company's success. In this process, areas in which the planning takes place are complex and often interdependent. 

Sales planning, production planning, balance sheet & income statement-related planning are only some of the issues where it is reasonable to plan ahead in order to be able to define, on this basis, the necessary business tasks (such as e.g. capital procurement, employee hiring or sourcing). Planning involves the question of what steps are needed in order to achieve the set goals. 

The procedure concerning business planning is often very individual and sometimes historically determined. The most popular approaches include top-down, bottom-up and mixed planning. What is certain, however, is that planning is a process in which different persons at different hierarchy levels communicate and bring together their expectations as to future development and the goals to be achieved. Therefore, the focal point of every IT project which deals with planning is, first of all, to mutually define the target procedure for the future planning process.

IT support as part of the planning process is offered at various levels of quality and detail. Starting from planning documentation for a later plan/actual comparison (see "architecture") through to partial automation of planning procedures, different intermediate levels can be mapped.

Business planning: Challenges

The functional design of the business planning process is a key success factor in making targeted and reasonable decisions. In this process, a global view is important but it also carries the risk of taking a too extensive approach. The responsibility for specific planning steps and the level of standardisation or customisation are also important aspects for the reasonable selection of an IT solution.  

Additionally, planning processes may involve uncertainties and entail the risk of changing circumstances. Classic year-based planning approaches must be replaced with rolling, agile and adaptable solutions in order to ensure the required degree of flexibility. 

In summary, the following areas of activity should be emphasised:
  • Definition of a company-wide planning process; definition of key planning areas
  • Management of tradeoffs between standardisation/flexibility or central/local planning
  • Integration of planning applications with analytic applications
  • Handling of increasing data volumes and incorporation of new planning techniques (Big Data)
  • Development of stable and at the same time agile planning tools
  • Modern easy-to-use user interfaces

Based on those areas, sample questions which are typical of the planning projects may be derived:
  • For what business areas should planning be prepared and in what order?
  • Do I need documentation of the planning results for later evaluation or should my application serve only a supporting function for the entire planning process?
  • How can I respond to the changing framework conditions?
  • In what areas should I resort to IT applications where planning is offered as a standard feature and which do not require customising on the development side?
  • How do I manage the interplay between the planning process and the subsequent plan/actual evaluation?

Tools and IT solutions for business planning

For planning, SAP offers various technological solutions. In this context, the solutions mean a combination of data retention and frontend. From our viewpoint, the following combinations are reasonably applicable:
  • Planning directly in ERP or S/4HANA system
  • Backend planning SAP BW + BW Integrated Planning, Frontend planning SAP BO
  • Backend planning SAP BW/4HANA + BPC, Frontend planning SAP BPC
  • Planning using SAP Analytics Cloud
  • Third-party solutions (Arcplan, ...)

Business planning: This is how we support you

In the area of business planning, we support you in the following fields:

Development of an overall planning process including partial goals (incl. expert advice).

  • Selection of IT tools for specific planning scenarios and analysis of standard coverage options 
  • Joint design of the planning process and development of the concept of modern planning applications using SAP planning tools
  • Design and implementation of planning applications, test support and personal post-implementation support
  • User training to ensure successful implementation of the solution

In this process, we will closely cooperate with your specialist and IT departments in order to develop tailor-made solutions. Of course, our experts will contribute their expertise and ideas. This will be done however as part of a consulting approach, since planning requirements and goals should be defined according to the needs of a specific company and, as a rule, no pre-designed solution will lead to the intended result.

Any questions on SAP BI consultancy offered by Rödl & Partner?
Michael Natterer (+49 [911] 59796 119) will be happy to assist you!


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Michael Natterer

Head of SAP BI & Analytics

Associate Partner

+49 911 180787 40

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