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.
There are so many ways to graph information, and many of them are not just labor-intensive, but cognitively ineffective – area charts, especially the particularly evil pie chart (more on that some other time!), frequently fall into that category. But even if you’ve chosen one of the more effective ways of graphing information, also remember that graphs work best when you’re trying to make a single, critically important point. One of the highest arts, if you want to be an FP&A star, is choosing the chart type that makes that one point most effectively.
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.
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…” 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.
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.