This is the second of a short series of pieces about the benefits that digital financial transformation brings to enterprise planning.
In the first piece in this series, we discussed the challenges that disruptions, such as Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, present to finance. There seems to have been a steady stream of them in recent years with many suggesting such discontinuities represent a ‘new normal’; a period that the US Army War College suggested has four primary characteristics – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity - or VUCA if you’re a fan of acronyms. It has certainly captured popular imagination in that it sums up everything we have been through in the last few years and are inevitably going have to face up to in the future such as the relentless drive to lower costs, rapidly changing demographics, shifting geo-politics and a myriad of game-changing technologies. All of this is presenting businesses with new challenges about how to anticipate, make decisions constantly course change in this new ‘VUCA’ world. So in this piece I'll discuss:
the emergence of the fp&a professional
The expectations of how the finance team would help the business navigate in a ‘VUCA’ world started to change a generation ago with the professional accounting bodies promoting a vision of the traditional management accountant being transformed into a business partner responsible for providing senior management with the financial analysis and insight they need to make operational, financial and strategic decisions to keep the business tightly aligned with changes in their business environment. Job titles changed with UK-based accounting bodies quickly adopting the term Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) Professional for those in the finance function responsible for the forecasting, budgeting and analytical processes.
the 6 c's of the new fp&a operating model
However, changes in job titles are not enough, because if they are to deliver on the long-held promise of delivering value to the business, then the core FP&A processes need to change too, becoming:
- Continual or event-driven rather than calendar-driven.
- Comprehensive non-financial planning, such as sales and operational planning, can be easily incorporated alongside more traditional with financial planning and budgeting.
- Connected so that even the smallest amendment in an operational planning model ripples through to other planning models in real-time.
- Collaborative with users sharing data and plans in a secure environment.
- Capacious so operational planning models can incorporate large amounts of multidimensional data.
- Community-owned so planners themselves can manage all aspects of the FP&A process rather than having to rely on IT specialists.
However in reality, few finance teams have made significant progress in transforming their core FP&A processes. This is understandable because until recently there were no planning and budgeting solutions capable of supporting anything other than traditional line-item collection and consolidation. Many are still firefighting with laborious and inflexible legacy systems or doing workarounds on a plethora of interlinked spreadsheets that compromise productivity, agility and data integrity.
But there is a way to break the log-jam. In recent years the advent of user-friendly, real-time, cloud-based planning platforms, such as that of Anaplan, has given finance teams the opportunity to make their FP&A processes fit for purpose. With both non-financial and financial planning data held securely in one place and a real-time calculation engine capable of processing vast amounts of data in real-time, FP&A professionals can now transform their core processes and confidently step into that long-promised role of business partner.
Profit& has helped many companies achieve the speed and agility they need to succeed in the VUCA world, the most pertinent example being helping one replace a myriad of unconnected spreadsheets by connecting Anaplan directly to their CRM system so that they can rapidly produce a rolling short-term revenue forecast based on qualified sales opportunities and reforecast their 3-year plan on a weekly basis. We’ll talk about many more organisations that have transformed their FP&A processes in subsequent articles in this series. Meanwhile, take a look the Connected Planning: The Key to FP&A Transformation to learn more about how a connected planning platform, such as Anaplan, can transform your FP&A processes. .
In the third in this series about the benefits that digital financial transformation I look at how to produce truly action-orientated long-range plans.
If you’re interested in seeing how Anaplan can increase the efficiency in FP&A, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be able to answer all of your questions and explain the processes we use to bring cohesion and effectiveness to financial planning and analysis.