I was shocked, over the weekend, to discover that it’s been more than 10 years since I posted The Future of Business Planning Software here on this blog. I wrote then:
As time goes on, more people are going to use planning as process to manage their businesses better. More will see the power of regular plan review, regular plan-vs.-actual analysis, regular milestones management, and using it all to manage teams and priorities. As this happens it will improve the quality of business planning software as well as of business planning. We’ll all start to look at built-in plan-vs.-actual analysis, regular plan reviews, and software that makes that happen.
Okay, so I’m an optimist. Instead of what I predicted (yeah, rose-colored glasses, I suppose), business planning is still, 10 years later, obscured by myth and misunderstanding. Experts who should know better are still advising people against business planning when what they mean is the wrong kind of business planning, the use-once-and-throw-away formal business plan full of painfully-perfected summaries and descriptions.
And what I said would happen was, definitely, what should have happened; and what should happen still. Better late than never. These things seem self evident to me:
Will businesses finally pick up on this idea? I hope so. If you want to improve management and steer your business better, the right kind of business planning develops focus, priorities, accountability, and execution. And business plan software is going there already.
In regards to software, I’m happy to report that Palo Alto Software has made my 2006 predictions self-fulfilling prophecy. LivePlan connects to your QuickBooks or Xero accounting software and does plan vs. actual analysis automatically; plus this year vs. last year too.