After working with so many finance functions in a wide variety of industries, one common challenge they are constantly facing is how to conduct good planning and analysis that is valued by their internal customers, be it sales, IT, marketing, manufacturing or supply chain.
The plethora of data, tools and techniques available to finance professionals is also overwhelming at times.
Nevertheless, there are some basic ‘keys’ to FP&A that ensure that the finance professional becomes that ‘trusted advisor’ providing high quality planning and analysis to their business colleagues.
- Clean, high quality transactional data –
- make sure you have quality data coming in.
- One touch accounting –
- Data should be entered once or captured automatically
- Two day close or less –
- you need time to think and understand your numbers. Getting bogged down in closing the books will limit that time
- Automated reporting –
- you shouldn’t be generating any financial statements in excel in this day.
- Ruthless prioritization of work –
- time is fixed for everyone. Make sure you focus on what’s going to make you and your company succeed.
- Define the service levels with your partners –
- it will allow you to better acheive 5 based on where you fit into their process and work flows
- Keep your tools sharp and organized –
- make sure you leverage the most recent solutions from your software providers (i.e. Microsoft). They have built in functionality that can automate previous manual tasks.
- Ensure everyone understands the process –
- this will help reduce stress and focus the discussion on what to do as opposed to what are the numbers.
- Ensure you understand the difference between reporting and analysis
- Phil Searle has a very good article explaining this differenct (http://www.the-financedirector.com/features/feature1972/)
- Focus on becoming a key part of the governance process and performance management to help drive growth
- Cristiano Busco, Elena Giavannoni, Angelo Riccaboni, Davide Franceschi, and Mark L. Frigo had a great article in Strategic Finance in 2007. You can read the summary here. http://mgt.ncsu.edu/erm/documents/LinkingGovernancetoStrategySynopsis.pdf
- Ensure you understand the business model your organization is, including key revenue or cost drivers
- If you simply generate reports or key in data, your job can be automated now.
- Helping everyone understand and improve your business model will ensure long term job security
There are many more techniques that can be leveraged to allow you to move to a trusted advisor within your firm. Don’t be afraid to try. And if you feel you need some help, just give us a call. We have been helping finance functions transform themselves into performance managers and coaches for over 25 years now.