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For startups, a well-written business planning document is important to source capital from banks and venture capitalists. A business plan also provides a clear direction for business growth . But how else does planning affect businesses? What does a good business plan contain? Let's look at the answers.
Business planning definition
Simply put, business planning is the process of developing a roadmap aimed at achieving a business goal. It involves key stakeholders coming together to brainstorm ideas and strategies and collating them into a formal, written document known as a business plan.
A business plan is an official document that outlines a business's core activities, objectives, and roadmap to achieving its goals. For example, if you are starting a new bakery, a business plan would include information about your products, marketing strategies, and financial situation. .
A good business plan helps a business focus on its short-term and long-term goals, and outlines the specific steps needed to achieve them. In summary, business planning is a key process that businesses undertake to achieve their goals and success.
Importance of a business plan
A good business plan is critical for any business, providing a roadmap for achieving success and ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned and working towards the same goals. It helps businesses make more informed decisions, secure funding, and track their progress over time. Here are some points summarising the importance of a business plan:
- A business plan helps a company track its growth and stay in line with its stated business objectives. If something is going off track, the managers can review the business plan and steer things back in the right direction.
- A good business plan notifies investors how the business is operated and if it is worth investing in. It attracts investors and sells them the idea of your business.
- A business plan provides a unified working structure among employees and business owners. It keeps employees and business owners on the same page about strategic actions needed to be taken.
- A well-crafted business plan can help startups attract investment or get loans without a proven financial record. It provides investors and lenders with an understanding of the company's goals, strategies, and financial projections.
Elements of a good business plan
A business plan should include key elements that help to provide a complete overview of the business and its plans for success. Here are some important elements that should be included in a typical business plan:
- Executive Summary
- Business Description
- Market Analysis
- Products and Services
- Marketing and Sales Strategy
- Management and Organization
- Financial Projections
- Funding Requirements
1. Executive summary
This business planning element provides a brief description of the business. It gives information on the business leadership , its employees, operations, and location. It also provides the business mission statement, goals, and vision.
2. Company description
This section provides a detailed description of the business, including its mission, vision, and goals. It should also include information about the industry and target market.
3. Market analysis
Good business planning requires a well-written market analysis showing demand and supply. A SWOT analysis provides detailed information on business strengths and weaknesses along with details on the business competitor and market opportunities available.
A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool used by business owners to identify a business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the market. Conducting a SWOT analysis will guide you on what you do well, identify your weak points, maximize your opportunities, and avoid threats.
An example of a good business plan market analysis is presented in a SWOT analysis carried out by a local shirt production company called 69 Shirts (a fictional company).
Table 1. SWOT analysis example
4. Products and services offered
This element provides a description of the products and services offered by a business. It includes production information, information on patents (if available), research and development, product or services pricing, and consumer benefits.
Blooming Boutique is a retail female clothing brand located in Delaware, US. 1 By following different generations' fashion trends, and monitoring target customers' fashion preferences, the brand intends to produce female fashion wear that is appealing to customers. They also use styles, colours, and different fashion fits to draw attention to the consumer while satisfying their sartorial needs.
5. Marketing and sales strategy
This element provides information on how the business intends to distribute its products and services, for example, what marketing strategies and channels they will use. Fundamentally, it shows how a business intends to build and keep its audience.
Again, let's take the example of 69 Shirts. Here's a possible marketing strategy:
- Using social media marketing and influencer marketing - the business aims to reach the audience by telling the story behind the products and how they can help the customers. The company also focuses on price, product distinction, product promotion, and customers’ feelings.
- Running a guerrilla marketing campaign in train stations and on public transport - this is done with the aim of letting people know as much as possible about the products and how beneficial and memorable it will be for them to own the product.
6. Management and organisation
This section should describe the management team and the organization's structure, including the roles and responsibilities of each team member.
7. Financial plans
Here, the business projections and estimates are included for startups, and for an established business, balance sheets, financial statements , and important financial information should be added. It should also include a break-even analysis , which shows the level of sales needed to cover all expenses. Well-prepared financial calculations can attract investors, banks, and venture capitalists.
If the business needs funding, this section should outline the funding requirements, including how much funding is needed, what the funds will be used for, and how the business plans to repay the funding.
This section should include any additional information that is relevant to the business plan, such as market research reports, product specifications, and legal documents.
Plan length varies, as does the type of plan, but a document usually ranges from 15 to 20 pages.
Business planning process
A business plan is just one step of the business planning process. The steps of the business planning process below will help you understand it:
- Define the business goals: The first step in business planning is to define the goals that the business wants to achieve. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
- Conduct market research : The next step is to conduct market research to understand the target market, competition, and industry trends. This research can help the business identify opportunities and threats, and refine its strategy accordingly.
- Identify resources: The third step is to identify the resources that the business needs to achieve its goals. These resources could include finances, personnel, equipment, and facilities.
- Develop strategies: Based on market research and resource assessment, the business can develop strategies to achieve its goals. These strategies should be aligned with the business's strengths and opportunities, and address any weaknesses or threats.
- Create a business plan: The strategies can then be translated into a formal business plan, which outlines the business's core activities, objectives, and roadmap to achieving its goals. The business plan should include detailed information about the products or services, market analysis, marketing and sales strategy, as well as financial projections.
- Implement the plan: Once the business plan is complete, the next step is to implement it. This involves executing the strategies and tactics outlined in the plan, and monitoring progress towards the business goals.
- Evaluate and adjust: The final step is to evaluate the progress towards the business goals and adjust the plan as needed. This ensures that the business remains on track to achieve its goals and adapts to changes in the market or business environment.
Advantages and disadvantages of a business plan
While creating a business plan is a critical step in launching and running a successful business, it's important for managers and business owners to remember that there can be drawbacks. Advantages and disadvantages of a business plan are as follows:
Business planning - Key takeaways
Business planning is a process of developing a roadmap aimed at achieving a business goal.
A business plan is written documen t showing a business's core activities, objectives, and business roadmap to achieving its objectives.
The importance of a business plan can be seen in the organized growth of a business. It allows business owners to track business growth and stay in line with the business objectives.
Some crucial elements needed in business planning are executive summary, business description, market analysis, products and services, marketing and sales strategy, management and organization, financial projections, funding requirements.
Business planning process usually involves the following steps: define business goals, conduct market research , identify resources, develop strategies, create a business plan, implement the plan, evaluate and adjust.
- Blooming boutique, bloomingboutique.com, 2022.
- Jared Lindzon, The importance of a business plan, waveapps.com, 2022.
- Susan Ward, What is business planning, thebalancesmb.com, 2020.
- Staff, Business plan basic elements, bizally.com.au, 2022.
- Rich Longo, Why you need a business plan, sbdc.duq.edu, 2019.
- Staff, Effective business plan, lancasters.uk.net, 2022.
Frequently Asked Questions about Business Planning
--> what is a business plan.
A business plan is an official documen t showing a business's core activities, objectives, and business roadmap to achieving its objectives.
--> How to make a good business plan?
To make a good business plan, it's important to research the market and industry trends, set specific and measurable goals, develop a clear strategy, and create a well-organized and detailed plan that includes financial projections, marketing strategies, and plans for potential challenges. It's also crucial to review and adjust the plan regularly to ensure it remains relevant and effective.
--> How is a business plan structured?
A business plan usually has the following structure:
--> Why is a business plan important?
A business plan is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it enables companies to secure funding from investors by providing a clear roadmap of the business's goals and strategies. Secondly, it provides a framework for companies to work towards their objectives, monitor progress, and adjust course as needed. Lastly, it helps companies anticipate and address potential challenges that may arise in the course of business operations.
--> What are the three main purposes of a business plan?
The three main purposes of a business plan are:
- To serve as a roadmap for achieving the business's goals,
- To attract funding and investment from investors or financial institutions, and
- To provide a framework for managing and monitoring the business's performance over time.
Final Business Planning Quiz
What is business planning?
Business planning is a process of developing a roadmap aimed towards achieving a business goal.
The document used by stakeholders to collate ideas into a formally written document that summarizes the business current state, the state of the business market, and steps to improve the business performance is called ……
A business plan
What is a business plan?
A business plan is an officially written document showing a business core activities, objectives, and the business roadmap to achieving its established objectives.
Give two importance of a good business plan
A. The importance of a good business plan can be seen in the organised growth of a business. It allows business owners to track business growth and stay in line with the business objectives.
B. A business plan also gives investors an idea of how the business is operated and if it is worth investing in. A good business plan attracts investors and sells them the idea of your business.
What is the first element of a business plan?
What information does the executive summary provide?
This executive summary provides a brief description of the business. It gives information on the business leadership, its employees, operations and location. It also provides the business mission statement, goals and business vision.
A business budget usually includes ….,.
A business budget includes cost from paying staff, production processes, marketing, expanding, logistics, development, researching and all other business related expenses.
What does a SWOT analysis show about a business ?
A SWOT analysis shows a business strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the business.
A good business plan helps a business focus on its short term and long term goals, and it also helps business owners focus on the specified steps put in place to help the business succeed. True or False?
A business plan is the same for all types of business.
Financial plans are not a part of business plan.
SWOT analysis is a way to carry out a market analysis.
Market analysis and marketing strategy can be used interchangeably.
A good business plan can help startups attract investment or get loans without a proven financial record.
What is the difference between market analysis and marketing strategy?
Market strategy provides information on how a business plans to distribute its products or services while market analysis gives details on business strengths, weaknesses along with market threats and opportunities.
Business planning is a process of ________ aimed towards achieving a business goal.
developing a roadmap
A business plan is an ________ showing a business core activities, objectives, and the business roadmap to achieving its established objectives
officially written document
A good business plan only helps the business focus on its short term goals.
A good business plan can help a company to:
Stay in line with the business objectives
Executive Summary is the description of the products and services offered by a business.
Good business planning requires a well written market analysis showing demand and supply.
SWOT analysis stands for ________ .
strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the market
________ includes cost from paying staff, production processes, marketing, expanding, logistics, development, researching and all other business related expenses.
A business budget
A company generating a revenue of £150,000 from a business with a total cost of £80,000 per year. How much profit does it earn?
£150,000 - £80,000 = £70,000.
Variable cost = Output x Variable cost per unit output
What is not a business variable cost?
production materials expenses
- Business Operations
- Influences on Business
- Human Resources
- Operational Management
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More explanations about Introduction to Business
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- Educational Resources
- Business Solutions Articles
What Is Integrated Business Planning and Why Is It Important?
Think of modern integrated business planning, or IBP, as a mashup of supply chain optimization, financial planning and analysis (FP&A) and operational best practices, powered by a companywide culture that’s all about delivering the speed, savings and responsiveness today’s consumers demand while managing risk.
Note that IBP as a fuzzy, buzzword-laden process methodology has been around for years. It’s usually implemented by expensive consultants in sprawling, global corporations that know they need to unify siloed sales, supply, financial and operational resources — before more nimble competitors relegate them to the former Fortune 500 list.
We’re here to argue that IBP deserves a second look for any company that wants to maximize profits and minimize the risks associated with growth. No six-figure consultant required.
What Is Integrated Business Planning?
On paper, IBP is a process for aligning a company’s business goals with its finance, supply chain, product development, marketing and other operational functions. Think parts suppliers that work with automakers and need to constantly retool to accommodate design changes, or food producers operating on razor-thin margins that must manage both uncertain supply chains and fickle customer tastes.
Lag, and a competitor is standing by to take that business. Move quickly but in a disjointed manner and you may keep customers, but at the expense of higher cost of goods sold (COGS) and lower profitability.
For example, consider PickerBots, a fictional maker of custom machinery for manufacturing and warehouse operations. When the company launched in 2017, it found a niche in restaurant supply, but when that business slowed significantly in 2020 the founders decided to retool. Rather than simply changing up its marketing, the firm set out to revamp its business strategy. A top-down scenario planning exercise led to realigning its R&D, demand forecasting, profitability and revenue analysis, supply chain planning and marketing and sales strategy.
The company culture was already strong on innovative thinking, but the founders realized that the link between strategic planning and day-to-day operations could use improvement. Enter a new COO with the chops to align operations with product demand planning and sales and marketing while weighing in on financial targets and budgets.
- In a company that embraces IBP, there’s a direct line from purchasing, production and inventory to sales and marketing to financial targets and budgets.
- A key IBP benefit is that materials are bought at the right price, at the right time and in just the right quantity to fulfill market demand.
- Successful IBP delivers closer collaboration and more trust among departments, leading to improved decision-making.
- IBP may require significant cultural change and cannot be successful without unwavering commitment from the executive team.
Integrated Business Planning Explained
Many organizations mistake IBP for a supply-chain-centric exercise. While linking supply chain planning with other departments, from sales and operations through finance, is important, that’s just one element.
IBP aligns business g oals and financial t argets with decisions and execution across the entire business.
There is overlap with financial planning and analysis (FP&A). Because an IBP initiative gathers data from across the enterprise, companies get better at predictive analysis. Now, when purchasing forecasts a parts shortage, supply and operations can adjust before customers are affected.
It’s also not a one-and-done exercise. PickerBots’ new COO advises looking a minimum of 36 months out. Leaders will need to keep their eyes on that long-range plan while continually reviewing, revising and communicating financial and operating results. What supply chain gaps have opened up, and how can we close them? Do we need to update our scenario planning? Are we tracking the right financial KPIs?
A crucial element of IBP is that it integrates financials with operations. Here’s a structure that PickerBots plans to follow.
Why Is Integrated Business Planning Important?
Companies that undertake IBP realize a number of practical benefits, including reduced holding costs, more responsive customer service and demand fulfillment, shorter time to market for new products and an improved correlation between demand planning and fulfillment.
After PickerBot’s scenario planning and strategy session, the company decided to jump into the emerging collaborative robot, or cobot, market. A collaborative robot is designed to safely interact with human workers. PickerBot’s leaders believe demand will increase for “pick and place” cobots with fine motor skills for use on manufacturing lines as well as in agricultural settings.
Now that the company has its strategic direction, the COO wants to focus on three higher-level concepts before delving into more practical areas, like financial planning and analysis and supply chain optimization. That’s because without goal-setting, PickerBots won’t be able to define success.
Alignment and accountability
All executives must agree on three things: What are our corporate goals? What does success look like for each? How will I and my team contribute and be accountable?
The company’s goals are grouped into four areas: industry-focused, operations and supply chain, financial and marketing and sales. The management team will review all goals to make sure they align with strategy and are both actionable and achievable.
Industry-focused goal: Offer the most innovative cobots on the market
What success looks like: Develop a product that can match or exceed a human worker in its ability to pick fragile crops without damage.
Who will execute: The R&D team
Financial goal: Diversify revenue streams
What success looks like: Minimize dependence on one market/industry. Add a services arm to generate recurring revenue from maintenance contracts, powered by sensors built in to all new products.
Who will execute: Cross-functional led by CEO and finance
Other goals might be “control costs at each step and deliver cobots to customers on time and to specifications” with an expectation to lower COGS by 10% and raise the company’s Net Promoter Score by 25% within one year. Or for sales, “find 10 new customers for the company’s agricultural cobots and bundle maintenance contracts with each sale.” That ties back to revenue diversification.
An important point: Every manager is accountable for every goal, not just those that lie within their purviews.
Informed decisions and actions
Planning across PickerBots’ supply chain was disjointed, with engineers purchasing materials direct and little central planning or cost control. As part of the IBP process, the company will adopt sales and operations planning (S&OP) principles to improve its supply chain and logistics.
Actionable goals here include building visibility into how each department is working and tying the impact of decisions to financial goals. For example, by having R&D build in sensors that can automatically collect and transmit data on a cobot’s operational status, PickerBots can proactively perform preventative maintenance so the devices are almost never down — an important selling point and a way to contribute to maintenance income.
Organizationwide, divisions need to focus less on their own needs and view actions through the lens of all goals. That means the company needs to collect a lot of timely data and use it to issue reports so managers can make better decisions, more quickly. That may require an investment in ERP and other software.
All department heads will take part in a monthly business review, where the group will assess progress in achieving the company’s objectives. The strategic plan is also available to all staff members, and quarterly all-hands meetings will be held to gather ideas and insights and walk through KPIs.
Four success metrics for the IBP process include:
1. Getting all stakeholders to buy in to corporate goals so that everyone agrees and understands what the business wants to achieve and how it will get there. There are clear responsibilities for each function in the pursuit of goals.
2. Basing business decisions on data. The integration of finance into product, demand and supply functions is key here, as are selecting the right KPIs.
3. Tying decision-making to outcomes and improving accountability. Because every department is responsible for providing accurate numbers and projections, there’s less risk that the CFO and finance team are left holding the bag if revenues fall short.
4. Shifting the culture to embrace cross-functional collaboration. An IBP process encourages openness and trust, and as a result more deeply engages and empowers employees. As an action item, each R&D and manufacturing team member will spend a week annually accompanying sales reps on customer calls.
What Is the Difference Between S&OP and IBP?
The term “IBP” was coined by management consultancy Oliver Wight to describe the next iteration of the sales and operations planning (S&OP) process Wight developed in the early 1980s.
The big difference between IBP and S&OP is that the latter has become the domain of supply chain and logistics specialists, particularly those involved in supply-and-demand balancing and planning. S&OP is execution-focused and involves a traditional budgeting process.
In contrast, IBP takes a more cross-functional and holistic approach to weaving business goals through every function. As a result, in theory, supply chain management is proactive and optimized.
IBP includes S&OP processes but because it involves cultural change, without executive buy-in, IBP will not be successful.
Some major differences between S&OP and IBP are:
6 Steps in the Integrated Business Planning Process
Now that its goals are set, PickerBots can take the next steps in its IBP journey.
1. Determine what is holding the company back. Is it a lack or growth or profitability? Is the product portfolio too complex? Has the business lost competitiveness in its space? For our manufacturing firm, the main problem was overfocus on one niche market.
2. Engage and educate employees. Once leadership buys in to goals, that enthusiasm must trickle down through the ranks. Unless everyone is committed to integrated business planning, success will be elusive. The COO recognizes that a formal employee engagement program will keep workers invested in the success of the business and actively working to meet strategic goals.
3. Set up a tiger team. IBP success comes from tight coordination, constant communication and accountability for KPIs. It’s a cultural shift that will take time to propagate throughout the business. To jumpstart things, PickerBots identified engaged employees within each functional area and assigned them to a daily 20-minute standup call. Now, say a shipment of RFID readers needed by manufacturing will be two weeks late. The purchasing team member shares that information promptly so that sales can manage customer expectations and finance can account for delayed revenue. If the problem recurs, the company can seek out new suppliers. No more surprises.
4. Establish a project/product prioritization process. IBP takes discipline. Only projects that forward the company’s strategic goals get resources. Same for products. That might mean sunsetting a line that’s still selling but lacks growth potential. All managers who require resources or have a product or service launch idea fill out a cost-benefit analysis template that is tailored to reveal whether expected benefits and costs align with goals. Leadership prioritizes using this process. No more sacred cows.
5. Expand the finance team’s influence. Finance needs to sit in on product planning, supply chain optimization and sales strategy meetings. Specifically, choose a finance team member well-versed in FP&A functions. FP&A professionals inform major decisions made by the executive team and collect and analyze financial data from across the organization to create reports that reveal whether goals are being met — and if not, why not? How do we fix the problem? Like many smaller firms, PickerBots doesn’t have a dedicated FP&A staffer, so the head of finance assigns an accounting team member who knows the business and has an aptitude for data collection and number crunching.
6. Adopt technology and tools to support IBP. If the forecasting process is seen as a quarterly or annual exercise imposed by finance and yielding little benefit to departments, IBP can’t succeed. Companies with static, point-in-time budgets need to adopt rolling forecasts to make sure the business stays on track. And, finance teams need to be able to easily access the data they need from each operational area. Both rolling forecasts and better use of data require technology and a commitment to transparency. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.
Traditional vs. Rolling Forecasts
5 tips to succeed at integrated business planning.
Some ways the COO plans to set PickerBots up for success include:
1. Sell IBP as a way to bring order from chaos. For example, large companies, especially those that have engaged in a number of mergers and acquisitions, may have thousands of SKUs and product codes. One big manufacturer Oliver Wight worked with used IBP to whittle 120,000 item numbers down to about 10,000 and reduce inventories by 50% while improving on-time, in-full delivery by up to 20%. For a smaller company, IBP can prevent ever getting in a situation where it needs to slash 90% of SKUs.
2. Adopt a continuous improvement mindset. All parts of any production or service system, particularly people, are interconnected, inform one another and are mutually dependent on generating successful outcomes. This practice’s origin comes from Kaizen, a Japanese term meaning “change for the better.” Originating in Japan, the business philosophy looks to continuously improve operations and involve all employees, from assembly line workers to the CEO. It’s a way to reinforce IBP.
3. Get buy-in from the CIO. PickerBots’ CIO came up through the ranks of manufacturing IT and is familiar with the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM), which has overlap with IBP. That went a long way in communicating the benefits of IBP and freeing up budget for technologies that can make IBP work, like ERP, enterprise performance management (EPM), supply chain management and real-time-capable accounting and finance software — especially important to realize the “one set of numbers” value proposition.
4. Apply risk management principles. Disasters large and small happen. While the zen of IBP skews toward positive and upbeat, make sure department heads are doing scenario planning and what-if analyses to model operational risk — like overdependence on one market. Consider assigning your tiger team a secondary function as a crisis management strike force.
5. Don’t forget HR. Labor is likely your company’s biggest operating expense, so ensure that it’s working for your IBP effort, not against it. A human resources professional can identify traits in applicants — like team players who are data driven and comfortable with transparency — that predict whether they will be contributors to IBP success.
Benefits of Integrated Business Planning
Research shows that the main benefit of implementing IBP is increased revenue, followed by forecast accuracy and improved Perfect Order Delivery rates.
Three additional key benefits:
Real-time insights: Once companies have instituted rolling forecasts, for example, finance can more quickly and accurately answer questions on spending and cash flow. Expect more accurate KPIs across the board.
Ownership: The flip side of accountability is that in a company fully embracing IBP, all employees assume responsibility for meeting all goals. So you’d better make sure that authority to make decisions is decentralized and tied to responsibility for outcomes, because there are few bigger morale killers than accountability without the power to effect success. Companies can further nurture a culture of ownership by tying rewards to meeting or exceeding goals.
Improved customer satisfaction: While more on-time, in-full deliveries make customers happy, that’s not the only way IBP improves Net Promoter Scores. Better planning yields better insights into what customers want, and a strong company culture often leads to improved customer empathy and its associated benefits.
Integrated Business Planning Adoption Challenges
Where a business starts with IBP depends on its maturity. Companies with dog-eat-dog cultures and highly siloed processes have a lot of work to do. These tend to be firms with traditional top-down management structures, static annual budgeting with little ability to generate forward-looking projections and dated business plans that are misaligned with current customer needs.
While all are thorny structural challenges, a leadership team that’s averse to placing trust and decision-making authority at lower levels of the organization is in even worse shape. Companies with autocratic, command-and-control styles must be willing to decentralize authority if they hope to realize IPB’s benefits.
Even businesses with mature, integrated processes and egalitarian cultures often get tripped up by “top down” versus “bottom up” KPI reporting and budgeting. IBP requires businesses to focus less on finance developing a top-line budget and then handing departmental budgets down from on high. Rather, they need to become comfortable with a bottom-up process, where departments start with a plan of what they want to achieve, calculate what it will cost and then feed a number up to the finance team, which uses that input to calculate the total budget.
Companies not already using at least a somewhat flexible budgeting process are likely to find this shift difficult. One way to jump-start the transformation might be a modern form of zero-based budgeting.
Steps of Zero-Based Budgeting for 2021
- Create a strategic vision for ZBB: Identify cost targets, relevant KPIs and goals.
- Evaluate business units to select ZBB candidates (also referred to as “decision units,” or any organ of the business that operates independently with its own budget).
- Start selected budgets from scratch (i.e., from zero).
- Each decision unit provides “decision packages,” which break down each activity in terms of its objective, funding needs, justification in the context of company goals, technical viability and alternative courses of action.
- Evaluate each proposed item to determine its value-add to the company and whether the entire cost is justified. What does the expenditure bring back to the company?
- Prioritize costs based on company goals. Reduce or cut expenses in areas that no longer produce significant value.
- Allocate funds among areas that are productive and aligned with the business’s growth drivers.
Elements of Integrated Business Planning
Integrated business planning takes place at a regular cadence; every month is most common, so we’ll use that in our example.
These steps are standard for IBP consultants, adaptable to most industries and bake in the PickerBots COO’s virtuous cycle of market research and strategic planning, R&D and manufacturing, demand forecasting and predictive analysis, profitability analysis, supply chain optimization and marketing and sales strategy.
1. Product management review. This includes all elements of product portfolio management. A cross-functional team meets monthly to review the overall status of all of product-related projects: Are they on track? Have we identified new risks and opportunities? Are the most high-value products or services prioritized? The goal is aligning the product portfolio with business goals and making sure needed raw materials and manufacturing floor capacity are lined up. Product managers revise as needed and publish an updated master plan, along with the resources it’ll take to deliver any changes.
2. Demand planning picks it up. This is a cross-functional process that helps businesses meet customer demand for products while minimizing excess inventory and avoiding supply chain disruptions. Demand planning can increase profitability and customer satisfaction and lead to efficiency gains. This team brings together members of sales, marketing and finance to determine whether they’re targeting the right markets, the right way. They work up an optimized demand plan. Relevant KPIs include sales forecast accuracy, inventory turns, fill rates and order fulfillment lead times.
3. Then, the ball goes to the supply planning team. These supply chain experts work out the optimal way to meet projected demand in a cost-effective way. The key is to have visibility into complex supply chains; a formal supply chain visibility (SCV) project helps spot and fix weaknesses, such as inventory shortfalls or order fulfillment issues, before they become major problems. Lower cost of goods sold (COGS) is the North star.
4. The integrated reconciliation team pulls together the initial product, demand and supply plans and consolidates them into one holistic business plan based on a 24- or 36-month projection; for iterative updates, teams highlight material changes. Decisions that could not be made by individual teams are prepared for executive review.
5. The executive team resolves conflicts and rolls the updated plan out to the entire company.
Integrated Business Planning Components
The components of integrated business planning comprise three buckets: Plan, execute and monitor and adjust.
Specific actions falling into each bucket vary depending on the consultancy or technology supplier. Some are more aligned with supply chain planning, while others center on S&OP or financial planning with plug-ins to other functional areas. Others are very industry-specific.
Let’s look at Oracle’s IBPX (Integrated Business Planning and Execution) for Manufacturing solution as an example. Key components include:
- Top-down and bottom-up, driver-based planning and forecasting
- Risk modeling for M&A and strategic initiatives
- Full financial statement structure for strategic and operational planning
- Predictive and prescriptive analytics and planning
- A preseeded S&OP process
- Near-real-time demand and supply balancing
- Real-time backlog management
- Automation of predictions and correction actions based on actuals
- AI-enabled operational planning, such as for sales territories and quotas
- IoT and sensor data flows integrated with automated decisions
Items like backlog management and enhanced support for IoT and sensor data are important to manufacturers like PickerBots. A retailer might be more interested in advanced inventory management. What’s important is that any solution, whether purchased as a suite or pulled together by an integrator or in-house team, supports the ability to do long- and medium-range and short-term planning based on a single, up-to-date data set that’s accessible to all authorized stakeholders.
Also look for the ability to easily model “what-if” scenarios, robust budgeting and costing and a roadmap to advanced technologies like AI and predictive analytics.
Integrated Business Planning Examples
We mentioned the Oliver Wight customer that whittled 120,000 SKUs down to about 10,000. That firm, Uponor Group, looked to IBP after a string of acquisitions left it with swelling inventories, an extremely complex portfolio and a lack of communication between siloed functions and far-flung locations. The Finnish company sells products for drinking water delivery as well as radiant heating and cooling equipment and has 3,900 employees in 30 countries. Uponor had a hard time getting a singular view of financial information across its subsidiaries, and each unit had its own practices for inventory management. Small events, such as holidays, would drive some sites to build up “just in case” inventory, and double-stocking in warehouses was common. Subsidiaries in different countries had different SKUs for the same items, and R&D was localized, with no collaboration across the company.
Upinor focused first on its supply chain and implemented S&OP processes, then advanced to IBP the following year. The results have been an increase in net sales of $1.1 billion euros, a 30% improvement in on-time in-full deliveries, a 50% reduction in inventories and increased visibility.
U.S.-based technology provider Juniper Networks also undertook an IBP project focused on implementing a digital supply chain with IBP, where the business planning process would extend S&OP throughout the supply chain, product and customer portfolios, customer demand and strategic planning.
Since undertaking the project, Juniper’s lead-time attainment is up 55%. and its inventory costs are down by 15%, allowing it to realize a positive ROI on the IBC project.
History of Integrated Business Planning
Oliver Wight developed S&OP in the 1980s as a methodology for a client that wanted to balance supply-and-demand volume. In the years since, the process evolved to integrate financials, inventory and new-product introductions.
The consultancy renamed S&OP as integrated business planning in the late 1990s to reflect the process of integrating all functions of the business behind one optimized plan. Since then, a newer term, “enterprise integrated business planning,” has emerged. EIBP includes scenario planning and extended supply chain collaboration and discusses how large companies will adopt new technologies, such as AI, big data and advanced analytics.
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Applications of Integrated Business Planning
IBP makes planning and operations much more transparent, so it’s ideal for companies moving to “just in time” manufacturing. It’s also predictive, once a company builds up some data. That can help with customer satisfaction.
PickerBots, as an example, found that it typically sees constrained supply chain capacity for motherboards in Q3. With that insight, sales and marketing can work to encourage customers to take delivery of systems in Q2 or Q4, manufacturing can prebuild products and supply chain leaders can work on alternate sources for parts that pose challenges.
Looking ahead to the future of IBP, we expect it to help companies:
- Work on ever-longer-range strategy planning, modeling and M&A activities with a higher degree of confidence.
- Detect and notify stakeholders of unanticipated events before they impact the business by using advanced technologies, including real-time sensor information and machine learning (ML) pattern recognition.
As companies build comfort with automation, advanced IBP systems can be set to take action based on analysis without human intervention. Consider a chain of bakeries; a system plugged into a long-range weather forecast system might detect a tropical storm that could raise the price of vanilla and automatically order extra.
Cloud-based technology such as ERP underpins all these advances. For example, PickerBots always set its sales goals monthly. But often these plans were delayed to let the executive team review and approve any changes, meaning operations was caught unawares. A tool like NetSuite Planning and Budgeting automates planning processes and centralizes company financial and operational data, so finance teams can disseminate updates quickly.
The next frontier? Expending IBP to business partners and suppliers, even customers. But first, companies need to get their own cultural and technology houses in order.
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Why Is Strategic Planning Important?
- 06 Oct 2020
Do you know what your organization’s strategy is? How much time do you dedicate to developing that strategy each month?
If your answers are on the low side, you’re not alone. According to research from Bridges Business Consultancy , 48 percent of leaders spend less than one day per month discussing strategy.
It’s no wonder, then, that 48 percent of all organizations fail to meet at least half of their strategic targets. Before an organization can reap the rewards of its business strategy, planning must take place to ensure its strategy remains agile and executable .
Here’s a look at what strategic planning is and how it can benefit your organization.
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What Is Strategic Planning?
Strategic planning is the ongoing organizational process of using available knowledge to document a business's intended direction. This process is used to prioritize efforts, effectively allocate resources, align shareholders and employees on the organization’s goals, and ensure those goals are backed by data and sound reasoning.
It’s important to highlight that strategic planning is an ongoing process—not a one-time meeting. In the online course Disruptive Strategy , Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen notes that in a study of HBS graduates who started businesses, 93 percent of those with successful strategies evolved and pivoted away from their original strategic plans.
“Most people think of strategy as an event, but that’s not the way the world works,” Christensen says. “When we run into unanticipated opportunities and threats, we have to respond. Sometimes we respond successfully; sometimes we don’t. But most strategies develop through this process. More often than not, the strategy that leads to success emerges through a process that’s at work 24/7 in almost every industry.”
Strategic planning requires time, effort, and continual reassessment. Given the proper attention, it can set your business on the right track. Here are three benefits of strategic planning.
Related: 4 Ways to Develop Your Strategic Thinking Skills
Benefits of Strategic Planning
1. create one, forward-focused vision.
Strategy touches every employee and serves as an actionable way to reach your company’s goals.
One significant benefit of strategic planning is that it creates a single, forward-focused vision that can align your company and its shareholders. By making everyone aware of your company’s goals, how and why those goals were chosen, and what they can do to help reach them, you can create an increased sense of responsibility throughout your organization.
This can also have trickle-down effects. For instance, if a manager isn’t clear on your organization’s strategy or the reasoning used to craft it, they could make decisions on a team level that counteract its efforts. With one vision to unite around, everyone at your organization can act with a broader strategy in mind.
2. Draw Attention to Biases and Flaws in Reasoning
The decisions you make come with inherent bias. Taking part in the strategic planning process forces you to examine and explain why you’re making each decision and back it up with data, projections, or case studies, thus combatting your cognitive biases.
A few examples of cognitive biases are:
- The recency effect: The tendency to select the option presented most recently because it’s fresh in your mind
- Occam’s razor bias: The tendency to assume the most obvious decision to be the best decision
- Inertia bias: The tendency to select options that allow you to think, feel, and act in familiar ways
One cognitive bias that may be more difficult to catch in the act is confirmation bias . When seeking to validate a particular viewpoint, it's the tendency to only pay attention to information that supports that viewpoint.
If you’re crafting a strategic plan for your organization and know which strategy you prefer, enlist others with differing views and opinions to help look for information that either proves or disproves the idea.
Combating biases in strategic decision-making requires effort and dedication from your entire team, and it can make your organization’s strategy that much stronger.
Related: 3 Group Decision-Making Techniques for Success
3. Track Progress Based on Strategic Goals
Having a strategic plan in place can enable you to track progress toward goals. When each department and team understands your company’s larger strategy, their progress can directly impact its success, creating a top-down approach to tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) .
By planning your company’s strategy and defining its goals, KPIs can be determined at the organizational level. These goals can then be extended to business units, departments, teams, and individuals. This ensures that every level of your organization is aligned and can positively impact your business’s KPIs and performance.
It’s important to remember that even though your strategy might be far-reaching and structured, it must remain agile. As Christensen asserts in Disruptive Strategy , a business’s strategy needs to evolve with the challenges and opportunities it encounters. Be prepared to pivot your KPIs as goals shift and communicate the reasons for change to your organization.
Improve Your Strategic Planning Skills
Strategic planning can benefit your organization’s vision, execution, and progress toward goals. If strategic planning is a skill you’d like to improve, online courses can provide the knowledge and techniques needed to lead your team and organization.
Strategy courses can range from primers on key concepts (such as Economics for Managers ), to deep-dives on strategy frameworks (such as Disruptive Strategy ), to coursework designed to help you strategize for a specific organizational goal (such as Sustainable Business Strategy ).
Learning how to craft an effective, compelling strategic plan can enable you to not only invest in your career but provide lasting value to your organization.
Do you want to formulate winning strategies for your organization? Explore our portfolio of online strategy courses and download the free flowchart to determine which is the best fit for you and your goals.
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What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates
Updated: September 02, 2021
Published: September 01, 2021
In an era where more than 50% of small enterprises fail in their first year, having a clear, defined, and well-thought-out business plan is a crucial first step for setting up a business for long-term success.
The business plan is an undeniably critical component to getting any company off the ground. It's key to securing financing, documenting your business model, outlining your financial projections, and turning that nugget of a business idea into a reality.
Business plans are a required tool for all entrepreneurs, business owners, business acquirers, and even business school students. But … what exactly is a business plan?
In this post, we'll explain what a business plan is, the reasons why you'd need one, identify different types of business plans, and what you should include in yours.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a documented strategy for a business that highlights its goals and its plans for achieving them. It outlines a company's go-to-market plan, financial projections, market research, business purpose, and mission statement. Key staff who are responsible for achieving the goals may also be included in the business plan along with a timeline.
What is a business plan used for?
The purpose of a business plan is three-fold: It summarizes the organization’s strategy in order to execute it long term, secures financing from investors, and helps forecast future business demands.
Business Plan Template [ Download Now ]
Working on your business plan? Try using our Business Plan Template . Pre-filled with the sections a great business plan needs, the template will give aspiring entrepreneurs a feel for what a business plan is, what should be in it, and how it can be used to establish and grow a business from the ground up.
Purposes of a Business Plan
Chances are, someone drafting a business plan will be doing so for one or more of the following reasons:
1. Securing financing from investors.
Since its contents revolve around how businesses succeed, break-even, and turn a profit, a business plan is used as a tool for sourcing capital. This document is an entrepreneur's way of showing potential investors or lenders how their capital will be put to work and how it will help the business thrive.
All banks, investors, and venture capital firms will want to see a business plan before handing over their money, and investors typically expect a 10% ROI or more from the capital they invest in a business.
Therefore, these investors need to know if – and when – they'll be making their money back (and then some). Additionally, they'll want to read about the process and strategy for how the business will reach those financial goals, which is where the context provided by sales, marketing, and operations plans come into play.
2. Documenting a company's strategy and goals.
A business plan should leave no stone unturned.
Business plans can span dozens or even hundreds of pages, affording their drafters the opportunity to explain what a business' goals are and how the business will achieve them.
To show potential investors that they've addressed every question and thought through every possible scenario, entrepreneurs should thoroughly explain their marketing, sales, and operations strategies – from acquiring a physical location for the business to explaining a tactical approach for marketing penetration.
These explanations should ultimately lead to a business' break-even point supported by a sales forecast and financial projections, with the business plan writer being able to speak to the why behind anything outlined in the plan.
3. Legitimizing a business idea.
Everyone's got a great idea for a company – until they put pen to paper and realize that it's not exactly feasible.
A business plan is an aspiring entrepreneur's way to prove that a business idea is actually worth pursuing.
As entrepreneurs document their go-to-market process, capital needs, and expected return on investment, entrepreneurs likely come across a few hiccups that will make them second guess their strategies and metrics – and that's exactly what the business plan is for.
It ensures an entrepreneur's ducks are in a row before bringing their business idea to the world and reassures the readers that whoever wrote the plan is serious about the idea, having put hours into thinking of the business idea, fleshing out growth tactics, and calculating financial projections.
4. Getting an A in your business class.
Speaking from personal experience, there's a chance you're here to get business plan ideas for your Business 101 class project.
If that's the case, might we suggest checking out this post on How to Write a Business Plan – providing a section-by-section guide on creating your plan?
What does a business plan need to include?
- Business Plan Subtitle
- Executive Summary
- Company Description
- The Business Opportunity
- Competitive Analysis
- Target Market
- Marketing Plan
- Financial Summary
- Funding Requirements
1. Business Plan Subtitle
Every great business plan starts with a captivating title and subtitle. You’ll want to make it clear that the document is, in fact, a business plan, but the subtitle can help tell the story of your business in just a short sentence.
2. Executive Summary
Although this is the last part of the business plan that you’ll write, it’s the first section (and maybe the only section) that stakeholders will read. The executive summary of a business plan sets the stage for the rest of the document. It includes your company’s mission or vision statement, value proposition, and long-term goals.
3. Company Description
This brief part of your business plan will detail your business name, years in operation, key offerings, and positioning statement. You might even add core values or a short history of the company. The company description’s role in a business plan is to introduce your business to the reader in a compelling and concise way.
4. The Business Opportunity
The business opportunity should convince investors that your organization meets the needs of the market in a way that no other company can. This section explains the specific problem your business solves within the marketplace and how it solves them. It will include your value proposition as well as some high level information about your target market.
5. Competitive Analysis
Just about every industry has more than one player in the market. Even if your business owns the majority of the market share in your industry or your business concept is the first of its kind, you still have competition. In the competitive analysis section, you’ll take an objective look at the industry landscape to determine where your business fits. A SWOT analysis is an organized way to format this section.
6. Target Market
Who are the core customers of your business and why? The target market portion of your business plan outlines this in detail. The target market should explain the demographics, psychographics, behavioristics, and geographics of the ideal customer.
7. Marketing Plan
Marketing is expansive, and it’ll be tempting to cover every type of marketing possible, but a brief overview of how you’ll market your unique value proposition to your target audience, followed by a tactical plan will suffice. Think broadly and narrow down from there: Will you focus on a slow-and-steady play where you make an upfront investment in organic customer acquisition? Or will you generate lots of quick customers using a pay-to-play advertising strategy? This kind of information should guide the marketing plan section of your business plan.
8. Financial Summary
Money doesn’t grow on trees and even the most digital, sustainable businesses have expenses. Outlining a financial summary of where your business is currently and where you’d like it to be in the future will substantiate this section. Consider including any monetary information that will give potential investors a glimpse into the financial health of your business. Assets, liabilities, expenses, debt, investments, revenue, and more are all fair game here.
So, you’ve outlined some great goals, the business opportunity is valid, and the industry is ready for what you have to offer. Who’s responsible for turning all this high-level talk into results? The “team” section of your business plan answers that question by providing an overview of the roles responsible for each goal. Don’t worry if you don’t have every team member on board yet, knowing what roles to hire for is helpful as you seek funding from investors.
10. Funding Requirements
Remember that one of the goals of a business plan is to secure funding from investors, so you’ll need to include funding requirements you’d like them to fulfill. The amount your business needs, for what reasons, and for how long will meet the requirement for this section.
Types of Business Plans
There’s no one size fits all business plan as there are several types of businesses in the market today. From startups with just one founder to historic household names that need to stay competitive, every type of business needs a business plan that’s tailored to its needs. Below are a few of the most common types of business plans. For even more examples, check out these 11 sample business plans to help you write your own .
1. Startup Business Plan
As one of the most common types of business plans, a startup business plan is used for brand new business ideas. This plan is used to lay the foundation for the eventual success of a business.
The biggest challenge with the startup business plan is that it’s written completely from scratch. Startup business plans typically reference existing industry data and explain unique business strategies and go-to-market plans.
2. Business Acquisition Plan
Believe it or not, investors use business plans to acquire existing businesses, too — not just new businesses.
A business plan for an existing company will explain how an acquisition will change its operating model, what will stay the same under new ownership, and why things will change or stay the same. Additionally, the business plan should speak to what the current state of the business is and why it's up for sale.
For example, if someone is purchasing a failing business, the business plan should explain why the business is being purchased and what the new owner will do to turn the business around, referencing previous business metrics, sales projections after the acquisition, and a justification for those projections.
3. Business Repositioning Plan
When a business wants to avoid acquisition, reposition its brand, or try something new, CEOs or owners will develop a business repositioning plan.
This plan will:
- Acknowledge the current state of the company.
- State a vision for the future of the company.
- Explain why the business should (or must) be repositioned.
- Outline a process for how the company will adjust.
Companies planning for a business reposition do so – proactively or retroactively – due to a shift in market trends and customer needs. For example, Pizza Hut announced a plan to drastically overhaul its brand, as it sees the need to shift from dine-in to delivery – a decision resulting from observing years of industry and company trends and acknowledging the need to reposition itself for the future of its sector.
4. Expansion Business Plan
Expanding a successful business venture into another location typically requires a business plan, as the project may focus on a new target market and demand more capital.
Fortunately, an expansion business plan isn’t like a startup business plan in that it starts from scratch. Instead, this type of plan references sales, revenue, and successes from existing locations. However, as great as a reference as these points can be, it's important to not be too reliant on them since it's still a new business that could succeed or fail for a myriad of reasons.
Getting Started With Your Business Plan
At the end of the day, a business plan is simply an explanation of a business idea and why it will be successful. The more detail and thought you put into it, the more successful your plan – and the business it outlines – will be.
When writing your business plan, you’ll benefit from extensive research, feedback from your team or board of directors, and a solid template to organize your thoughts. If you need one of these, download HubSpot's Free Business Plan Template below to get started.
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Business planning is developing a company's mission or goals and defining the strategies you will use to achieve those goals or tasks. The process can be extensive, encompassing all aspects of the operation, or it can be concrete, focusing on specific functions within the overall corporate structure. What Are the 4 Types of Business Plans?
Business planning is a process of developing a roadmap aimed at achieving a business goal. A business plan is written documen t showing a business's core activities, objectives, and business roadmap to achieving its objectives. The importance of a business plan can be seen in the organized growth of a business.
March 16, 2021. Think of modern integrated business planning, or IBP, as a mashup of supply chain optimization, financial planning and analysis (FP&A) and operational best practices, powered by a companywide culture that’s all about delivering the speed, savings and responsiveness today’s consumers demand while managing risk.
Benefits of Strategic Planning 1. Create One, Forward-Focused Vision Strategy touches every employee and serves as an actionable way to reach your company’s goals. One significant benefit of strategic planning is that it creates a single, forward-focused vision that can align your company and its shareholders.
A business plan is a documented strategy for a business that highlights its goals and its plans for achieving them. It outlines a company's go-to-market plan, financial projections, market research, business purpose, and mission statement.