Rolling Planning

The term "rolling planning" describes a form of planning in which the planning already done is reviewed and, if necessary, updated after certain time intervals throughout the year. In other words, corporate management is adjusted to current conditions during the year. 

Definition: What does  "rolling planning" mean?

Rolling planning or rolling sales planning is a sub-type of sales planning. It describes a periodic form of planning that updates and revises the company's current planning based on new data and forecasting methods at defined regular intervals. The idea behind it is not to base the business on the previous year, but to adjust plans and resources according to current economic developments and the industry. Typically, the forecast period extends 12 to 24 months into the future. 

The concept of rolling planning

Rolling planning usually complements annual planning, as the latter is usually too inflexible and too far ahead. In contrast, rolling planning provides forecasts more frequently and at an earlier stage, allowing deviations to be identified in good time. This, in turn, lays the foundation for quick reactions to achieve the set goals faster. Planning and forecasting therefore tend to become more accurate as a result of rolling planning and its shorter timeframes. Resources in the company can thus be deployed and utilized in a targeted manner. Activities in the near future are planned more precisely and intensively than later periods. 

How is the rolling planning carried out?

Rolling planning is based on a constant number of periods. For example, if the forecast period is 12 months, another month is added at the end of each month. In this way, forecasts can always be made 12 months into the future. Rolling forecasts typically include at least 12 forecast periods, but may include 18, 24, 36, or more.  

In smaller companies, rolling planning can be done using an Excel tool. But once planning becomes more complex, companies are better served with software that enables rolling planning. Automatic forecasting makes sales planning work much easier. 

These steps will help you implement rolling planning: 

  • Define goals 
  • Define forecast horizon 
  • Determine level of detail and data source 
  • Determine who is responsible for the process 
  • Create possible scenarios 
  • Select tools/technologies 
  • Evaluate/measure actual and estimated forecasts 

What are the benefits of a rolling planning process? 

Rolling planning is particularly helpful in companies that are in a dynamic market environment because the forecast values are always up-to-date, allowing strategic planning and operational planning to be carried out on the basis of detailed and meaningful figures. Planning is regularly adjusted to changing conditions, which is why forecast deviations can be quickly identified. This results in the following advantages: 

  • Greater planning reliability 
  • Reduced time and personnel requirements 
  • High accuracy of forecasts 
  • Agility: Adjustments can be made quickly and flexibly to adapt to trends and changes 
  • Refine the company's financial plan and overall strategy  
  • Track financial and operational performance 
  • Reduction of risks 
  • Help in strategic decision making 
  • Monitoring cash flow 

What are the disadvantages of rolling planning? 

This type of planning can also have some disadvantages: 

  • Time and resource intensive process 
  • Difficult and costly implementation 
  • High complexity in implementation 

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