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.”
Keeping your company at the forefront of its field means having the ability and confidence to make hard-fast decisions. Success depends heavily on making the right decisions and executing them with speed and efficiency, giving you a serious competitive advantage over the market.
EY conducted a survey that revealed 81% of senior executives indicated they needed to improve their decision making speed and get greater insight on their business. They also recognised that their team made too many decisions based on intuition, and wasted time working on mechanical tasks and unnecessary detail.
The process of remaking decisions wastes a considerable amount of time. There is an art to making good decisions the first time.
On 11th May 2017 the Zurich FP&A Board gathered 36 senior finance practitioners from such leading local and global companies as Barry Callebaut, Cembra Money Bank, Citrix, Credit Suisse, Ecolab, EF Education First, GE, Gedeon Richter, MAN Diesel & Turbo, Medtronic, Quintiles IMS, Swissport, TE Connectivity, Xylem, etc. The important subject of Effective FP&A Organisational Structures became the main focus of the third FP&A Board meeting in Zurich.
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.