Oliver Wight and Board International help clients to plan for success

24 June 2024 Consultancy.uk 5 min. read
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International consultancy Oliver Wight and enterprise planning technology platform Board International have launched a strategic partnership to help companies make the most of real-time data insights in their planning. According to Oliver Wight EAME CEO Kirsty Braines and Board International CEO Jeff Casale, the combination will allow clients to enjoy a streamlined and holistic adoption of integrated planning practices.

The global economy remains in the grip of a number of increasingly complex crises. On top of the lingering impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, heightened inflation, escalating geo-political tensions and other supply chain disruptions mean businesses must have a broad understanding of a number of different issues, if they are to survive and thrive.

To that end, Oliver Wight and Board International have teamed up to provide a modern approach for businesses to better negotiate the key challenges of their times. The strategic partnership combines the holistic solutions provided by Oliver Wight’s process and change management experts, with Board International’s enterprise planning platform.

Kirsty Braines and Jeff Casale

Kirsty Braines and Jeff Casale

Explaining how this collaboration can help make the difference for clients around the world, the leaders of both firms recently spoke to executive news site CEO Today. 

Noting the current difficulties other leaders face, Jeff Casale, CEO of Board International, suggested that one of the greatest barriers they must overcome to improve their decision-making is to secure a supply of accurate, real-time data. Suggesting that too many executives at multinational companies were still “emailing spreadsheets around with critical information”, he argued that firms must move beyond this outdated mode of business – which is slow, and prone to errors.

“I’ve seen it myself repeatedly,” he stated. “You’re sitting there in a planning meeting, suddenly millions of dollars are missing, and it was because something crashed or a decimal moved.” Casale recalls. Such failures create “existential risk” for companies, he warns.

Similarly, Oliver Wight EAME CEO Kirsty Braines has witnessed moments with clients where despite amassing large amounts of data, many struggle to extract meaningful insights. 

“Many organisations that we work with have started to create data lakes, but they don’t know how to fish from them,” Braines suggested.

Integrated planning systems

Expanding on where Oliver Wight and Board International can therefore be of service, Braines and Casale noted that the way to overcome these shortcomings was two-pronged. First, firms need to invest in integrated planning systems, combining internal and external data into a “single source of truth”. To that end, Board’s enterprise planning platform, combines business intelligence, planning, and predictive analytics, to help users anticipate market trends, model different scenarios, and align strategic, financial, and operational planning.

But deploying such a system is easier said than done – and as with any business transformation, partnering with external experts is an important step on the road to success. That’s where Oliver Wight’s best practices around Integrated Business Planning (IBP) come in.

Braines continued, “The integration is multifaceted. It’s not just the integration of the right people being involved with the right processes, with the right technology at that middle-management and executive level. It’s the integration all the way through so that there’s confidence throughout that organisation.”

At the same time, adopting the technology is only the start of the process – and bosses must be aware that they cannot simply hope to return to being passive observers in the future. They must use the integrated planning infrastructure to play an active role in leading their organisations in the long-term. 

This is a problem both Braines and Casale have come across before. Traditionally business leaders are used to being consumed by short-term planning to ensure everything is going well with their firm – but this reactive fire-fighting can leave no time or resources focused on guiding the company’s overall direction and strategy. This means many companies struggle to establish a clear process and obtain reliable information, inhibiting further strategic planning. 

Stay on the bridge

Noting an anecdotal example from her work as a consultant, Braines illustrated this point by bringing up a client that condensed its original three-year targets into a single year while maintaining a “very aggressive strategy” for the following three years. But even with an ambitious plan in place, the CEO had remained stuck in the “engine room” rather than “on the bridge”, meaning the company’s plans have remained stuck in operational details, and are not helping to steer the business in its intended direction.

“Quite a lot of that is around the assumptions of what’s going to happen because nobody’s got a working crystal ball,” said Braines, explaining what tends to derail a firm’s new plans. “It is more about ensuring that we’re capturing what we believe is likely to happen to us based on that environment and our internal capabilities.”

Even so, while nobody can see the future for certain, the data-collection and real-time insights delivered by Oliver Wight IBP Powered by Board can help prepare for many more eventualities ahead of time. To that end, Braines noted that documenting a firm’s assumptions against actual data is vital, as it can providing a reference point against which to track events as they unfold. 

She continued, “This way, we can course-correct and ensure that we are still making the most appropriate and optimum decisions for the future of the business.”

As the global economy shows no signs of becoming any calmer in the approaching era, Oliver Wight and Board’s solutions will be one important way in which businesses can do just that. Forward-thinking CEOs using cloud-based planning platforms and IBP processes are quickly alerted to changes, and can therefore adapt their plans accordingly.