For quite some time CFOs and the finance community have been talking about transforming the finance function, becoming better business partners and focusing on the value-add, strategic activities.
At the core of that transformation is FP&A, as activities like business planning, business unit strategy, investment allocation and predictive analytics become important to fulfil finance’s new, expanded position within the company.
But to do that, FP&A itself must transform and change from its traditional flux analysis and flash reports to a much more modern and cutting edge department within the company. When starting to embark on your own FP&A Transformation journey, there are a couple of principles you need to keep in mind.
As a child, I identified the word “artificial” to playing surfaces in professional baseball and football stadiums. While growing up the word “artificial” expanded to items like sweeteners. Now as a professional the word “artificial” applies to work.
In regard to work, the word “artificial” applies to artificial intelligence. Simply written, artificial intelligence is machines thinking on their own. Machines thinking on their own present a number of anxieties in the workplace. Perhaps the most significant anxiety is the loss of work. Loss of work within factories is more than an anxiety, it is a reality. Loss of work within offices may become as prevalent as within factories. These statements apply to work within facilities but can be restated into more precise terms like functions such as FP&A.
A couple of weeks ago I joined the meeting of the Amsterdam FP&A Board where we discussed the subject of the FP&A analytical transformation. In the course of the meeting the participants mentioned their current main concerns, some of which such as Data ownership, Data quality, and Business Glossary (‘Speaking the same language’). This surprised me. Why? Because these topics are ‘hot’ topics of Data Management (DM) with no common vision on the subject.
As a result I decided to write several articles on these topics for FP&A professionals. The main purpose is to share some knowledge and practical experience and to start a discussion about these subjects.
We live in a modern, technological world where data, or more accurately insights from data, can drive competitive advantage. From identifying opportunities for optimisation and efficiency to generating a greater understanding of customers and prospects, it should be every company's aim to use their data to influence their decisions and future strategies to gain the advantage in their competitive market.
The London FP&A Board was created on the 19th September 2013 to guide the development and promotion of best practices in financial planning and analysis (FP&A). In May 2016 we took our first, yet successful step in our international expansion plans by launching Stockholm FP&A Board. By the end of 2017, individual board chapters will have been established in 15 cities in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the USA and Australia in order to identify and support new global trends, skillsets, and thought leadership in FP&A.
On 26 April 2017 the FP&A Board gathered in Stockholm for the third time to interactively discuss one of the biggest challenges of moving Financial Planning and Analysis to the next level and undergoing the transformation that is long overdue. FP&A Analytical Transformation became the main focus of 18 senior finance practitioners’ attention from such companies as Baxter, CGI, Danone, Electrolux, Hitachi Data Systems, MSD, Tele2, Philips, etc.