Catalyst has robust planning tools that allow you to streamline your forecasts and sales plans. This article provides a full tutorial on mastering profitability planning in Catalyst.
This article contains the following topics:
- Planning overview
- Quick tips
- Getting started
- Planning basics
- Volume planning
- How to use the Planning page
- Making edits in the interface
- Making edits in Excel
- Important note about item planning
- Top-down volume planning
- Bottom-up volume planning
- Detailed volume planning via export
- Profitability unit of measure
- Rate planning
- Rate type definitions
- Recommendations and callouts
- How to create a planning scenario
- Actuals through and prepopulating fields
Often thought of as Volume Planning and Rate Planning:
- Volume Planning allows for individual users within an organization to forecast sales based on gross sales or unit volume. The volume of units sold may be planned at the item and/or the customer level. This tool is particularly useful for members of the sales team as it provides an easy way to create a bottom-up budget build.
- Rate Planning lets you manage your selling price, standard cost and similar things. Catalyst can basically store the rates so that if you make a volume change, the sales will recalculate automatically.
Read on for detailed steps and recommendations for how to plan in Catalyst using the Profitability Planning module.
- Fixed represents a predetermined amount that remains constant over a specific period, be it per month, per customer, or per item. It can be a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of gross sales.
- Selling unit refers to a specified dollar amount attributed to a particular quantity of items. This is often used for price planning or cost estimation.
- % of Gross Sales planning approach takes your gross sales data and multiplies it by a percentage that you define. You can enter this percentage in the respective columns to create a dynamic planning model.
Recommendations for Uploading Data
To streamline the process of uploading data for your profitability budget, follow these steps:
- Navigate to the Rate tab within Catalyst.
- Select your desired scenario and all relevant rate types.
- Access Excel options and choose Advanced Export. This will allow you to export data for all companies and profit accounts. Please note that if you don't use this method, you may be limited in your selections to only one company and one profit account when using Catalyst filters.
Understanding the differences and capabilities of the Customer and Item planning pages is crucial:
- In the Customer page, you won't find a drillable item. However, you can still choose this option in the Advanced export feature.
- The Item page is identical concerning customer planning. Both the Customer and Item pages allow you to plan at volume or quantity, rather than focusing on rates like selling price or gross sales fixed amounts.
- Rate is a powerful planning area that offers more flexibility and options than just volume. It is a versatile tool for managing various aspects of your profitability budget.
When it comes to planning your budget, consider the following recommendations:
- If you want to disregard volume and focus on fixed amounts per period, use the Fixed ($ amount per period) planning feature available under the Rate tab. This is the simplest way to plan your budget, particularly when you have projected gross sales or revenue totals broken down by month, customer, item, and more.
It doesn't matter whether you upload the Rate or Volume (qty) data first. However, to ensure the planning module is fully functional, both need to be uploaded, unless you are exclusively using Fixed planning under the Rate tab.
Before you can begin to plan, budget, or forecast you'll first have to create a scenario for your plan. To learn how to create a new planning scenario, click here or scroll to the bottom of this article.
Once you've done that, you'll be ready to review your loaded data and start planning on that scenario.
Basics of Planning
- Item Planning allows users to plan at the item level from a Selling Unit or Gross Sales perspective. The user will be able to plan at the Item ID (lowest level) or at any level of the Primary Item Hierarchy. If planning at a higher level than the Item ID, Catalyst has the ability to spread the new planned figures down to the Customer ID and Item ID level (e.g. Top Down approach).
- Customer Planning allows users to plan at the customer level from a Selling Unit or Gross Sales perspective. The user will be able to plan at the Customer ID (lowest level) or at any level of the Primary Customer Hierarchy. If planning at a higher level than the Customer ID, Catalyst has the ability to spread the new planned figures down to the Customer ID and Item ID level (e.g. Top Down approach).
- Customer + Item Planning using the “Detailed Export” option, users have the ability to plan at the Customer / Item combination from a Selling Unit or Gross Sales perspective.
- Rate Planning allows users to input rates in 3 different ways – Per Selling Unit, % of Gross Sales, and Fixed. The rates can be customer specific, item specific, or both.
Volume (Item or Customer) Planning
Volume planning allows for individual users within an organization to forecast sales based on gross sales or unit volume. The volume of units sold may be planned at the item and/or the customer level. This tool is particularly useful for top-down or bottoms-up planning. To access this module, click Planning and then select either Item or Customer.
- Reminder: Before beginning your planning, ensure you've already created a corresponding planning scenario.
- Select your filters. Each planning page will have a similar output where the user will need to select their preferred filters at the top of the page. Select the right Scenario (e.g. budget, forecast, or plan) that you want to plan on and edit. Click Apply Filter. Hint: The more specific you are in the filter the quicker the data will load.
- To edit something click the edit button in the actions column. See below for edit application definitions. Alternatively, to edit lines in Excel, select the Excel Options and Export option. When Export, you can choose basic export, detailed, or advanced, with each allowing you to plan at a high or detailed level.
Making Your Edits in the Interface
When you attempt to edit a field in the interface, you'll be given options to tell Catalyst how to apply your adjustment to the selected period, such as by entering an absolute amount, creating a net change to the existing amount, or by a net percentage change to the existing amount.
- Abs: Electing to make an “Abs” change or absolute edit will change the entire value of the cell. (e.g. A field containing 300 would be modified to 500 if it received an absolute edit of 500.)
- Net: A “Net” change adjusts the amount up or down by the amount of the edit being made. (e.g. A field containing 300 would be modified to 800 if it received a net change of 500.)
- %: A “%” change adjusts the amount up or down by a percentage of the existing amount. (e.g. A field containing 300 would be modified to 330 if it received a % edit of 10.)
Making Your Edits in Excel
If you prefer using your Excel skills to make all of your edits, that's possible too. You can edit the volume at the overall level, or at the customer or item level for a given scenario by using the Export function under the Excel Options menu.
The upload sheet that's downloaded is then tied directly to your filtered page in Catalyst, so you can make all of your edits there and upload them back into Catalyst using the EBM Office Bridge ribbon.
If making changes at the individual customer or item level, the user can export the detail using the “Advanced Export” button, select “Detail”, “Export”, make the necessary changes within the excel document, and then upload the changes back into Catalyst using the “Upload” button on the planning page.
Changes made at the overall level (above) will be reflected in item or customer level detail (below) and vice versa.
Important Note About Item Planning
Note: If you are planning at the Item level (rather than at a higher level of granularity) and the Item(s) doesn't already exist in the Item hierarchy, you will need to add the Item(s) to the Item hierarchy in the Administration > Manage Hierarchy section of Catalyst first, otherwise you'll receive an error message.
Top Down Volume Planning
On this page you can plan at the highest level (by plan by period) under the first Volume Planning section (see image below) or you can plan out volume at the item or customer level based on expectations under the detail section.
The same top-down functionality you find in the Financial Planning section holds here as well. If you want to make a more summarized top-down change, Catalyst can push it down for you. For example, lets say you don’t necessarily want to adjust the SKU mix, but you want to adjust sales targets to bring those up towards the back half of the year, Catalyst will apply the increase down to the customer ID and item ID level based on the proportion that’s already there.
Bottom Up Volume Planning
Alternatively, say you do want to adjust the SKU mix or get more granular in some other way, Catalyst can apply your targets from the bottom up. Each item or customer period change you make will flow up towards the top of the pyramid.
Detail Volume Planning via Export
When exporting the detail volume planning, the user will see the ability to load data at a customer & item level by month. The company and scenario must also be specified. An additional column with this export is the Planning UOM column.
This allows the user to load volume at any Profitability Unit of Measure that’s built into the system. For example, instead of loading data by Selling Unit, it could be loaded as Pounds or Cases, which would then be converted back to Selling Units using the rates defined in the Profitability Unit of Measure page.
Profitability Unit of Measure (UOM)
To view the profitability units of measure, go to the Planning page, click on Profitability Unit of Measure within Planning Administration, and click the drop down for To Rate Type.
When loading volume at a different rate type than selling unit, the system requires that a Profitability Unit of Measure rate for that item exist in the system. The user will be aware of this issue when attempting to upload volume planning detail with a Planning UOM other than Selling Unit. Upon upload, the system will decline the upload with the message that a Planning UOM rate does not exist in the system for certain items. If this error occurs, the user should do the following:
- Download the items list on the Profitability Unit of Measure page into excel.
- Do a lookup from the planning detail to the list of items in the Profitability Unit of Measure page.
- Any item that exists in the planning detail that is NOT in the Profitability UOM page will need to get added. A rate will also need to get added.
- Add these items to a profitability UOM detail sheet, include the correct conversion factor, then upload into Catalyst.
The Rate Planning module allows you to manage your selling price, standard cost and similar things. Catalyst can store the rates so when volume changes, the sales will recalculate automatically. For example, if you decide to bring sales up in July to 80,000 units, Catalyst will recalculate the sales for you at the customer and item level, as well as recalculate the cost, the pounds, the gross margin, etc.
Rate Type Definitions
- Fixed: Fixed amount per period or gross sales per month per customer or per item.
- Selling Unit: $ amount per quantity.
- % of Gross Sales: Takes what you have in Gross Sales and multiplies it by percentage. You enter the percentage in each column.
Recommendations and Callouts
- Recommendation: To pull down a comprehensive upload sheet, go to the Rate tab, select your scenario and all rate types, then select Excel options > Advanced Export to export all companies and profitability accounts, otherwise you are limited in your selections to one of each in the Catalyst filters.
- Callout: The main difference between Customer and Item planning pages is that in the Customer page, you don't have the option to drill down to the item level, although you can choose that in Advanced export selection under Excel Options. The same is true for the Item planning page in respect to customer. Both let you plan at Volume or Quantity (rather than rate, like selling price or gross sales fixed amounts).
- Callout: Rate allows for all the other planning areas outside of volume and is most flexible.
- Recommendation: Use Fixed ($ amount per period) planning under Rate to disregard volume. This is the easiest form of planning a budget and can be used when you have a projected gross sales or revenue total broken down by month and customer/item etc.
How to Create a Planning Scenario
To add a new planning scenario, navigate to the Scenario page in Administration, then click to Add Scenario in the lower right corner of the page. The following page will display with the following fields.
- Begin by first typing in the name of the scenario in the Description field, then a Short Description. For example, if you were creating a 2022 3+9 Forecast, the Description would be “2022 3+9 Forecast” and the Short Description could be “2022 3+9F”.
- Next, select the fiscal year this scenario relates to. This will align the budget/forecast scenario with the fiscal calendar dates.
- Then, select Scenario Type “Budget” or “Forecast”. The logic in Catalyst is the same for these two scenarios, but the option for budget and forecast is given for the user to be able to differentiate what the annual budget is versus a partial-year forecast.
- Select your Sort Order, which simply defines where the scenario appears in the order of scenarios in the scenario summary page and in the cubes.
- Choose if you want to Lock or Unlock the scenario, making it available to edit.
- Define how often the scenario should be refreshed (daily is usually fine).
- Check the appropriate boxes beneath Scenario Availability so the data appears where it should in Catalyst and the cubes.
Actuals Through and Prepopulating Periods
When creating a budget or forecast scenario, the user has the option to prepopulate the scenario with data from other scenarios, as well as link certain periods of data to Actuals.
The Actuals Through Period dropdown found above the Locked/Unlocked option, lets you link your new Budget or Forecast to your Actuals by selecting a month from the dropdown. If Actuals updates in those months, the planning scenario will update accordingly. Those periods are also not able to be edited in planning.
An additional option is to prepopulate scenarios with data from other scenarios (e.g. other budgets or forecasts you've already created and used).
A use case for this would be when creating a 2021 6+6 Forecast, the user could prepopulate the first half of the year with Actuals, and then the second half of the year with the 3+9 forecast. Then the user would be able to review and modify the second half of 2021 based on the 3+9 assumptions instead of starting with blank periods. Below is a screenshot on how to prepopulate scenarios.
Note: The Actuals Through dropdown can be set to “None”, and the scenario can still be prepopulated with Actuals. The difference with this approach is (1) the scenario will not be linked to actuals, so if actuals data changes, this scenario will not update; (2) the data in the months where Actuals are prepopulated can be edited unless the user locks these periods for editing.