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FP&A Data Visualization: Don’t Skip ANY of These Questions!

Randall Bolten, longtime Silicon Valley CFO, author of "Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You” and adjunct professor at U.C. Berkeley Extension

Data visualization – or graphing, to use a more plebeian synonym – is one of the hottest buzzwords in FP&A today… right up there with “big data” and “predictive analytics”. It can certainly be an immensely powerful tool for helping your audience grasp your most important points. And it’s getting more powerful – in addition to good old Excel’s already-lengthy list of graphing capabilities, there’s an increasing number of excellent data visualization software products.

London FP&A Board: Are Fancy Visual Aids Worth the Investment?

By Neil Ainger, GTnews

Some time ago, the FP&A Board in London saw members debate whether fancy business intelligence (BI) software tools are a wise or even necessary investment. The general consenus was that boardroom members often don’t want to see complicated graphs, instead preferring to see the numbers in a flat 2D table.

“I’ve worked for a chief financial officer [CFO] who hated graphs,” said one senior FP&A professional. “As a finance person, he wanted numbers, not graphs. He even got his PA to print off a dynamic clickable dashboard I produced! A lot of a presentation depends upon who you are presenting to. I’ve certainly adapted my technique and tools depending upon who is listening.”

FP&A Trends TV Series: Presenting Numbers Effectively

Presenting Numbers Effectively

In this episode of the FP&A Trends Video Series, Randall Bolten, author of "Painting with Numbers" talks about how to effectively present numbers for FP&A professionals. Presenting numbers is communicating, and therefore there are certain tips to make sure it is done correctly.

Mastering Dashboards to Build Value

By James Myers , Global Finance Executive and FInance Transformation Consultant

Dashboards have become a powerful tool for FP&A to share insight and gain respect. When designed correctly, they deliver a clear message on what’s working and what’s not, and the actions to take to fix the issue. Technology now enables us to create dashboards in minutes, allowing us to share information in ways we could never before…you must leverage this technology! The big question has moved from “How do we create dashboards?” to “How do we harness this powerful tool to drive business behavior?” Do it right and you win the day for FP&A!

Are You an Ethical Numbers Presenter?

Randall Bolten , longtime Silicon Valley CFO, author of "Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You” and adjunct professor at U.C. Berkeley Extension

In recent posts we’ve seen how tiny changes in the way we present numbers can have a huge impact on how well the information is understood. In this post, we look instead at how those little things can affect how your integrity or your ethics might be perceived

For our example, consider a slide from an investor presentation I found online (click here for the original document). Just for the record, the company (Constant Contact – Nasdaq: CTCT) looks at first glance like a perfectly fine company; I’m only commenting on how they present some of their information.

RANDALL BOLTEN grew up in Washington, D.C., the son of a CIA intelligence officer and a history professor. He is passionate about the importance of presenting financials and other numerical information in a cogent and effective way, and in his current life is the author of Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You (John Wiley & Sons, 2012).

He is a seasoned financial executive, with many years directing the financial and other operations of high-technology companies. His experience includes nearly twenty years as a chief financial officer of software companies.

He has held the CFO position at public companies BroadVision and Phoenix Technologies, and at private companies including Arcot Systems, BioCAD, and Teknekron. Before his CFO positions, he held senior financial management positions at Oracle and Tandem Computers.

He received his AB from Princeton University, headed west to earn an MBA at Stanford University, and ended up staying in Silicon Valley. 

In addition to writing Painting with Numbers, he currently operates Lucidity, a consulting and executive coaching practice focused on organizing and presenting complex financial information. He divides his work time between Glenbrook, NV and Washington, DC, and maintains an office in Menlo Park, CA.

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