Is the recession bottoming out or will things get worse? Is a comeback bounce around the corner, or are we looking at the dreaded "L-shaped" recovery where business remains stuck at a depressed level? More to the point, what is your company going to do about whatever scenario plays out?"If ever there's a time for planning, it's now. Not only when the economy is declining, but also when things may turn up." Those are the words of Greg Schneider, vice president of marketing Adaptive Planning, which is announcing Release 6.0 of its Software as a Service (Saas) product, including multi-dimensional financial planning model, integration with NetSuite, and a new benchmarking initiative.
According to Adaptive Planning, the percentage of its clients who have re-planned, re-forecast, or created what-if scenario at least three times last quarter has doubled from 14% last year to 28% now. And half expect to do even more what-if planning in the future.
That comes as overall confidence slows its deterioration, with only 53% saying conditions are worse now than 6 months ago ï¿¼ compared to 86% who felt that way last quarter. Almost half (48%) expect conditions to improve in next 6 months ï¿¼ only 15% were optimistic last quarter. Interestingly, midsize companies were more optimistic than large enterprises, 58% to 31%. Just as important, business uncertainty remains high, and there's no agreement on when a recovery might arrive.
The Cube Sheet Adaptive Planning's new Multi-Dimensional Cube Sheet makes it easy to create sophisticated models that track volume and price assumptions for multiple geographies, product lines, customers, product SKUs, time periods, and other dimensions.According to CEO and president Bill Soward, the data input required is no more complicated than a typical Excel spreadsheet, but drop-down boxes, search, and other techniques let you change the underlying assumptions and reconfigure the model in multiple dimensions. Howard says this functionality is common on expensive business intelligence systems like Cognos, Hyperion, and Business Objects, but very difficult to do on the Excel spreadsheets used by many small and midsize companies.
Benchmarking The Benchmarking initiative is designed to track how companies are evolving their plans in ITE (in this economy), Soward said. Adaptive Planning is starting with software companies, and has signed up about a third of its 65 companies in this sector to provide information on some 50 different metrics.
Those companies will receive free quarterly reports starting this year, and hopes to expand the pilot program to the non-profit sector next. The key, Soward said, is to demonstrate the value of the project's attempt to define the collective wisdom -- especially concerning the rate of change, which he feels will be more enlightening than any raw numbers. Ideally, Soward said, the project creates a set of leading indicators that companies can use to make better projections. At the same time, Soward added, Adaptive Planning must reassure participants that it can protect their confidentiality.
The Benchmarking program includes both forward- and backward-looking perspectives, and Adaptive Planning has licensed third-party data on backward-looking metrics from 10,000 companies to add depth to portions of the benchmarks.
From any perspective it's hard to tell what's going on right now. But if you want your company to surivive this recession and emerge in a strong position, you had better make sure you're doing all you can to stay prepared for any economic eventuality.