Workday Planning: An Essential Tool for Financial Planning & Analysis

April 11, 2018 Dan Haigh and Matt Welch

“Technological innovation is indeed important to economic growth and enhancement of human capabilities.” - Leon Kass

Traditional Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) staff and departments generate reports and data extracts through Excel. The result is typically a collection of disjointed spreadsheets, which require formatting with calculations and protection areas to ensure consistency. These sheets are parsed and distributed to departmental managers manually, through individual emails. 
The FP&A team then spends the next few weeks tracking down managers for updates, resend worksheets, guide users through the process, answer questions about how to enter information into the excel workbooks, and send more data to help managers make decisions. 

And once all spreadsheets were (finally) filled out and returned, FP&A would then have the arduous task of compiling the sheets back into a summarized plan to be reviewed again by management. To do this, every sheet would be loaded into the financial system — either manually or by (yet again) reformatting the sheets for upload. 

The reality is — this archaic process rarely, if ever, goes smoothly. 

FP&A gets more secure

Fortunately, Workday has introduced a new planning process simplifying the creation of financial and headcount projections. It adds highly-requested functionality and is scalable for organizations of all sizes. 

Through Workday Planning, the FP&A team members are an integral part of the process, through a security group called Planning Administrator (PA). FP&A PAs are now more akin to orchestra conductors — they conduct or administer the planning process.  

Workday created a complete process with tools in the application to help the FP&A PA generate an initial plan, which can be based on user-defined assumptions (e.g., salaries for the year will increase three percent, based on last year’s actuals). Both actual information, and prior budgetary information, can be combined to create the base plan. 

Goodbye Excel and other spreadsheets

Workday has incorporated the same helpful, streamlined functions, analysis, and visualizations in the new Planning tool that you can expect from traditional spreadsheets, while also supporting static values and formulas, and allowing for data to be entered directly into the Workday Workbooks. 

And since all data remains within the Planning tool, access to any sensitive data can be controlled using Workday security. Users only see data they have permission to access. Translation: goodbye Excel!  The Planning tool secures and leverages ledger account, headcount, FTE, and compensation data within Workday. 

Organizational and collaborative planning

Along with the new Planning Administrator security group, Workday has a new role-based security group, called Organization Planner, to support decentralized planning. Any user that needs to develop a budget for their organization can be assigned to this role. Budget workbooks are no longer emailed, but become an inbox item within Workday that can be tracked. 

During the budgeting process, the Planning Administrator will develop and generate a Plan Structure that allows you define the dimensions for ledger accounts, cost centers and other values that can be used to distribute to the Organization Planners. For example, if you want Cost Center Managers to receive the Plan Workbooks, each Cost Center Manager is designated with the role of Organization Planner.

When the Plan Workbooks are distributed by the Administrator,  they will appear in appropriate manager’s Workday inboxes, for them to work on. Additionally, these Cost Center Managers will only receive spreadsheet(s) for their own cost center(s). No more email!  

Tracking down data becomes easy

Inbox items can be tracked by the Plan Administrator. The recipient inbox items can also be configured to receive past due notifications automatically. Once the user submits the (optionally approved) worksheets, they are included automatically as part of the master plan.

Lastly, the entire process occurs within Workday. This process leverages Workday’s native Business Process Framework tools, so that routing and approvals can be configured throughout the planning cycle.  Version control is carefully maintained within the tool. 

Once all worksheets have been submitted, the summary plan is finalized by the Administrator in Workday. There are no issues with unfiled accounts or cost centers, because all master data derives from Workday throughout the process. 
Workday has taken key features that make its HCM and Financials applications powerful, and leveraged them in Planning to make the process faster and simpler. Now there’s more time for review and analysis to make the best plan possible.

If you’d like to learn more about Appirio’s Workday solutions, read more on our hub.

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