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FP&A Trends

Visual FP&A: Is Graphing the Right Choice?

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 this article, we address an important question: Which is the most effective way to impart your key information – a table or a graph? 

Ultimately, when considering how information should be presented, the only criterion any FP&A professional should consider is how well that information will be understood by his/her audience. It’s not about your skill using the software tools, or about how “pretty” the information is, nor even what some in your audience claim about their cognitive preferences. (e.g., “I’m a visual person.”) And the first, and perhaps the most important, question to ask yourself is whether your information really lends itself to data visualization.

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.

7 Reasons Why Good Financial Business Partnering Starts with Cash Flow

By Michael J. Huthwaite, Founder and CEO of FinanceSeer LLC 

Does your organization view Finance as a business partner, one who provides value-added insight that helps grow the business?  Or does the business tend to perceive Finance as the constant “deal-breakers”, who routinely throw up hurdles and are quick to say “no” anytime a business expert has a new idea or growth initiative?

As Finance leaders, we need to do a better job of leading efforts to educate the business on the importance and simplicity of Cash Flow.  In a world where we are being told to be better “ storytellers ”, we must realize that Cash Flow is a fact, not fiction.  Let’s lead with the simple truth.        

A good sketch is better than a long speech – 5 benefits of data visualisation tools

By Ian Yates,  Managing Director at Barcanet

“A good sketch is better than a long speech…” a quote often attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte.

Companies are collecting, organising, storing, and analysing data from hundreds of sources, and the volume is increasing exponentially. But this data is only relevant if it can be used to drive outcomes and make timely business decisions. So it is essential to you can understand and evaluate the data quickly, and this is where data visualisation comes in.

The Rolling Forecast Philosophy: Time to Abandon the Budget?

By Ernie Humphrey, CEO at Treasury Careers

Rolling Forecasts are an essential tool for financial planning and analysis (FP&A), with the potential to radically transform the traditional corporate budgeting process. If implemented properly, a rolling forecast expands planning horizons, reduces planning cycles, and helps in executing organizational strategies. 

I hear you want to be an FP&A professional. Well then you need….

By Amrish Shah, Snr Finance & Operations Director, The Netherlands

Yes, exactly. What does it take to become a good or even great FP&A professional? Beyond the more technical elements required, for example, an affinity with numbers (not unimportant!), with information systems and so forth.

What I want to list is in my experience those QUALITIES that I have found in people who I have worked with, worked for and who have worked for me in an FP&A domain that I found to be particularly effective in driving the FP&A agenda forward within their responsibility domain. I deliberately do not want to use either the word skills nor competencies, as these two words are fraught with misunderstanding and tend to create more confusion then clarity.