December 20, 2021

Integrated Business Planning and Process Management

Many firms’ planning procedures are disjointed, resulting in a lack of visibility and efficiency across all departments. This leads to a significant loss of time, energy, and money. It is important for all types of companies to establish a suitable operations system and processes so they can better track their inventory, save money, and offer better services to their customers.  However, times are changing, and forward-thinking businesses are embracing digital transformation and implementing an integrated business planning (IBP) strategy. In this article, we’ll look at what IBP is and the advantages of using it. We’ll focus on the importance of integrated business planning, forecasting, and process management, as well as the necessity for enhanced business intelligence. 

business consultant

What Is Integrated Business Planning?

Integrated Business Planning (IBP) is a straightforward method for making sound decisions as it creates the structure for an organization to define its key strategies and critical performance benchmarks. The structure in which the organization defines its key strategies and critical performance benchmarks provides a common starting point for drawing up operational plans for core functions such as trading and supply chain teams. A key characteristic of the IBP process is that it drives alignment of these plans towards common goals and assumptions at top and corporate levels and ensures that the bottom-up foundations of operational plans are reconciled and agreed upon.

IBP is an approach that incorporates financial and operational data from across the organization, taking into account the best practices of managing and leveraging them. It brings together financial and operational information by connecting strategic planning with sales, operational, and financial plans, and allows businesses to maximize their output by increasing visibility of resources, optimizing capabilities, and improving overall performance. An organization can use IBP to create a shared go-to-market strategy that all departments can support. 

IBP symbolizes the progression of Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP). It is a process that promotes the alignment of all functions throughout a business. It generates readiness for alternate outcomes, drives strategy deployment, and improves supply chain collaboration. It also enables management to plan and manage an organization by synchronizing strategic and tactical goals each month and allocating vital resources, people, equipment, inventory, materials, time, and money in the most lucrative way possible. 

What Is Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP)?

The S&OP method has been around for quite some time, and the procedure has changed throughout time. Over the years, many companies have relied on Sales and Operations plans (S&OPs) to align processes along their supply chain. As S&OP has matured in value and perception, it has become an effective tool for extending the benefits of these plans throughout the supply chain. Integrated Business Planning (IBP) has evolved from a concept originally developed for S&OPS to reflect more of the overall picture of the supply chain. Many companies have incorporated S&OP principles to foster collaboration, but there is still a lack of consistency across the board.

sales and operations planning

Businesses must start with people, process, and technology to be successful in S&OP., orchestration, organizational pull, and leadership are required for all three to work in some form of coordination. This is where the process’s long-term viability is jeopardized. The optimal scenario for the S&OP process is to balance supply and demand while focusing heavily on the supply chain and operations.  It rarely aligns with commercial, marketing, or financial strategy. In the growing pressure to manage costs, expand product portfolios, and enter new markets, a financial analysis on the implications of supply chain decision-making is crucial. Traditional sales and operations plans (S&OPs) are not enough to provide business leaders with insights into the financial trade-offs behind critical supply and demand management decisions.  For this reason, the use of Integrated Business Planning is recommended by thought leaders to take business performance to the next level. 

Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) Vs. Integrated Business Planning

S&OP and IBP’s goal is to come to an agreement on a single operating plan, to which the management team’s executives are held accountable in the allocation of critical resources such as people, equipment, inventory, materials, time, and money to most effectively satisfy customers in a profitable manner. 

The most significant distinction between S&OP and IBP is that IBP begins with the executive level. The IBP process conducts a review each month or planning cycle, in which the management team analyzes the most recent projections, potential gaps in attaining business and strategic objectives, gap closing solutions, and resource predictions to execute the plan. 

IBP provides a planning basis that replaces the traditional monolithic annual financial planning process with an agile and easy approach. The structured process involved in building an IBP approach allows companies to focus on making well-informed decisions and take the best action on these decisions. In addition, IBP enables a company to incorporate insights from supply chain forecasts, financial projects, and strategic plans, regardless of how financial, supply, demand, and value chain functions need to be modeled. This enables an agile and responsive adaptation of operational business plans. Now that we’ve established what IBP can mean for your business, we’ll guide you through the process step-by-step.

The Integrated Business Planning Process

Step1: Determine what is preventing the company from progressing.

analyzing results

Is it a lack of profitability or growth? Is the product line-up too complicated? Is the company no longer competitive in the market? 

The IBP process firm begins to  look at it in terms of the company’s entire health and welfare, rather than optimizing a function at the cost of the company’s total benefits over time. Companies that get the most out of IBP use it as a cross-functional, collaborative management approach led by the executive team for running the business. In today’s fast-changing environment, the IBP process provides the organization with the essential nimbleness to deal with and handle business difficulties. The IBP system makes it easy to find discrepancies between predicted and actual performance, allowing for quick fixes and, in some cases, resource shifts. Better resource use and accurate forecasting allow IBP to conduct a demand review cycle to identify the trade-offs.

Step 2: Educate and engage your personnel. 

Once the top team commits to a set of goals, the enthusiasm must filter down through the ranks. Success will be elusive until everyone is dedicated to Integrated Business Planning. A structured employee engagement program will keep employees committed to the company’s success and actively strive to achieve their business goals effectively. IBP success is based on close collaboration, frequent communication, and KPI responsibility. It’s a cultural transformation that will take time to spread across the organization. 

Step 3: Create a system for prioritizing projects and products. 

project prioritization

IBP requires self-control. You should set budgets or invest only on projects that help the organization achieve its strategic goals. The same can go for products. That could mean retiring a line that is still profitable but has limited growth potential. 

Step 4: Product planning, supply chain optimization, and sales strategy meetings should all include finance. 

Choose a finance team member who can help the management team make important choices by collecting and analyzing financial data from all around the company to develop reports that show whether or not goals are being met and determine the options for resolving any issues. The strategic plan can run over different time horizons based on which department represents its part of the plan. IBP enables businesses to extract data from supply chain projections, financial reports, and strategic plans and integrate it into their business plan. Finances can be included in the strategic plan as strategic revenue targets for the organization. 

Step 5: Adopt IBP-supporting technology and tools.

IBP will fail if forecasting is perceived as a quarterly or annual task enforced by finance and providing no benefit to other departments. Rolling projections are necessary for businesses with static, point-in-time budgets to ensure that they stay on track. Finance teams must be able to quickly obtain the information they require from each operational area. Technology and a commitment to transparency are required for both rolling predictions and better data utilization. 

improving business processes with technology

Barriers in Integrated Business Planning

  • Integration is problematic due to technological and process frameworks. The structure of traditional software solutions varies, making integration difficult. Cloud-based technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are the source of removing technological barriers, which traditional methods continue to play a significant role in discouraging companies from using IBP. 
  • A diverse skill set is required. Modeling a complex supply chain sometimes necessitates difficult code and provides no visualization; therefore, optimization strategies present obstacles.
  • Within the organization, there are various cultures. Understanding another unit’s objectives while attempting to achieve one’s own seems unattainable.
  • Tools for managing linear scenarios like optimization can’t reproduce real-world complexities or recognize that what-ifs aren’t linear. Scenario analysis helps companies integrate their supply chain plans for finance, production, procurement, sales, and marketing. IBP enables companies to find optimal scenarios in addition to optimizing the existing business method. 
  • Spreadsheets are used as a key planning tool, but continuing to use spreadsheets as-is creates an inflexible resource that is unable to integrate and align corporate goals. 
  • Data quality, access, and management are all hampered by inflexible solutions. Solutions are built to work in a specific way, frequently in opposition to the company, which means that data access, quality, and administration are all dependent on the system

Benefits of Integrated Business Planning

Overcoming the obstacles to IBP implementation begins with an awareness of the benefits that IBP offers. An integrated business platform can help the organization overcome these obstacles by allowing it to improve its decision-making capabilities. Let’s delve deeper into the benefits:

Strategy Alignment

process planning and performance tracking

IBP aligns strategic goals with financial and operational activities. It enables departments to see where their actions fit into the overall picture and collaborate toward a single goal with complete visibility of what the organization intends to achieve.


This procedure creates transparency over the relationship between different departmental outputs. This allows a single shared view of data and the ability to run scenarios to see how an increase or decrease in production quantity, headcount, sales, marketing campaigns, and other factors affect financial results and other departmental outputs. 


IBP also ensures more accountability. It lets employees become more aware of their actions and their influence on the company and understand how their efforts contribute to the shared go-to-market strategy.


IBP provides better insights after a corporation has accumulated enough data, making planning and operations considerably more transparent, improving customer satisfaction as a result. By using new technology, such as real-time sensor data and machine learning (ML) pattern recognition, you can detect and notify stakeholders of unplanned occurrences before they have an impact on the organization. All of these advancements are dependent on cloud-based technologies, and they help streamline planning procedures and centralize financial and operational data so finance teams can swiftly distribute updates.

Why Adopt IBP

For companies to succeed with IBP, they need to advance their decision-making end-to-end to optimize their financial returns. IBP is a procedure that reflects end-to-end business goals by taking into account each business silo and its numerous activities. Enterprises obtain a single holistic plan that unites the business through IBP, which connects corporate performance management, financial planning procedures, and operational planning systems in a smooth manner. This business plan improves business alignment by discussing performance strategies and aids in the quantification of business risk, allowing businesses to react to new problems quickly.

adopting integrated business planning

Integrated business planning is the optimal solution for companies that use scenario mapping, have complex supply chains, and want to effectively achieve their business goals. It involves the use of data-based forecasts for planning the supply chain, operation, sales, and marketing. Companies that switch to integrated business planning software solutions will benefit from the tools they need to match supply and demand and optimize their business plans for future success. They can include demand planning software, demand forecasting software, and supply chain software to support forecasting and analysis.    

Planning your business is important because it leads you to make changes and decisions about your business based on future projections. Many have observed that the traditional format of business planning does not work in today’s integrated and connected world, which is why there is no better time to integrate this new planning method into your organization and take advantage of the IBM platform. Contact us at Universal Creative Solutions to get started on your business plan and strategy today.

Our services

Leaders, Organizations, and Individuals come to Universal Creative Solutions with their WHY - their vision for the world, their company, their product, or their path in life.

We help them plan and achieve their WHY by coupling it with the HOW - a pathway to making that vision a reality. We clarify the concepts or objectives, break down the goals into the required assets, stakeholders, and key results, as well as provide or connect them to any needed resources and consulting services every step of the way.

Whether you need a structured plan or a dedicated partner to help you achieve your goals, Universal Creative Solutions is honored to work towards better solutions together.