A Deloitte survey of 600 global finance leaders, as highlighted in CFO.COM, found that: "companies spent nearly half their time creating and updating reports, and just a fraction of that time devoted to uncovering insights in the data — insights that could prove vital to the business”.
How do you get more value from data and quickly?
Use a people first approach
In professional services one of the main topics currently is: how to best leverage data and analytics to close the gap. There are many different variables and trends within segments, what is consistent is that their needs to be a people first approach. People within professional services are usually the most important asset. It is crucial to have a positive people experience, one that enables better decisions to be made with confidence and quickly. One of the most common challenges in achieving this is mindset and resilience to change. As organizations are under time pressure, what can be relatively simple to do with the technology now available, is often even simpler not to do. However, this has a cost, by not embracing change and not positioning people and teams to best manage and navigate change the price to be paid is likely to be significant.
Integrate your planning approach
This is a method of achieving results and to get the buy in required within an organization. If data is incorporated into one solution, driving performance becomes easier. This not only adds value by increasing collaboration and improving communication, it creates a sense of belonging and alignment of people and processes. Which is critical in today’s business environments, furthermore it enables a forward-thinking approach with one single source of truth that supports and improves planning cycles and provides real-time visibility for best- and worst-case scenarios, including dashboards for quickly providing an overview and highlighting the metrics that matter in the context of your organization furthermore allowing for the best advice to be given and appropriate action to be taken.
Why? Uncertainty, the speed of change is increasing
The cadence of which planning has previously taken place in many cases is no longer enough. Leaders need easy access to real-time insights popping to the top of their inbox on any device, anytime, wherever and whenever they need them. This is no longer a nice to have, organizations and their people must have the flexibility, to be able to confidently take appropriate action and quickly.
A current example of this is the Coronavirus (COVID-19), how flexible and quickly are you able to plan for various different scenarios This can be any type of situation that can have a major impact. Are you proactive or reactive in your planning? Can you quickly trust the data your decisions are being made on? How long does it take to make changes to get the answers you require?
Business starts with planning, however, businesses unless new are most in cases not static. People are looking at finance and technology to provide answers to these types of questions, and quickly as they provide insights into what state an organization is currently in.
Organizations need to be able to easily get access to and fully trust the data decisions are made on to be able to navigate change and turn plans into action quicker.
To simplify this concept let's refer to it as:
TEG – Time to Execute Gap
The cadence of planning and execution needs to align with or be less than the speed of change. Simply put, if the speed of change is greater than an organization’s ability to plan and execute, there is a risk that the planning and the decision-making that it was based on is no longer valid and relevant at the point of time the execution is due to take place. This creates pain and frustration if planning is based on data from manual transactions and multiple versions of the truth, not only is this highly inefficient, it restricts the quality of information and the speed of which it is available. Making it more challenging to accelerate business results.
Examples of this could be:
“When forecasting sales numbers for manufacturing high-value products. At this point, up-to-date and accurate information is required to plan the amounts of products to be produced, and any errors can have a serious impact”.
Or when looking at:
“How many employees need to be assigned and, in some cases, employed based on upcoming projects.”
There are, of course, more examples depending on the context.
So, ask yourself how well prepared your organization is when going at rapid velocity, to navigate change and uncertainty while simultaneously accelerating business results.
Finance are the ideal candidate to lead organizations through change and uncertainty, to partner with businesses and steer organizations towards success, however for that to happen, there needs to be more transformation and less administration. We all only get 24 hours in a day, technology when used well can help FP&A leverage their time and knowledge, to focus on what really matters and close the time to execute gap.
The article was first published on LinkedIn.