The FP&A Trends Webinar. Five Critical Roles for Building a World-Class FP&A Team
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By Monika Piekarska, Data Visualisation Expert at Bank for International Settlements – BIS
Monika Piekarska is a Director of LabMP Ltd Data Visualization Consulting in the UK. She educates finance on communicating data impactfully.
LabMP Ltd provides data storytelling for business leaders to trigger effective communication across the organisation through reporting, BI tools, slide decks.
Monika Piekarska’s Linkedin profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/monika-piekarska/
On the 9th of March, Larysa Melnychuk hosted an inspiring webinar about FP&A Data Visualization: Moving from Insight to Impact where three senior professionals focused on discussing three pillars of FP&A storytelling:
This article explains what is behind these components:
Professor Hans Rosling, a great statistician and data visualization popularizer, compares data analytics to music.
“Most of us need to listen to the music to understand how beautiful it is. But often that’s how we present statistics: we just show the notes, we don’t play the music”.
The power of data visualization is the ease to digest the large dataset quickly. In a couple of seconds, you can grasp complex information. That allows you to make better-informed decisions.
Stephen Few, a thought leader in information design, says data visualization is a way to shape effective presentation.
“To find signals in data, we must learn to reduce the noise – not just the noise that resides in the data, but also the noise that resides in us”.
Science proves the benefits of visual analytics. Applying IBSC-compliant reporting and data-rich presentations guarantee higher data literacy in your organization. A laboratory study with the Technical University of Munich proves the benefits of IBCS. 61% fewer errors in reading reports and 46% faster in decoding the data.
Jürgen Faisst, a Managing Partner at IBCS Institute, clarified why CFOs don’t like colourful data visualization and shared a couple of recommendations on how to make business communication more effective:
During the webinar, hundreds of attendees from the FP&A industry took part in the poll and described the current state of their reports and dashboards. Only 2% has already implemented IBCS-compliant reports. 54% see potential in establishing a consistent data presentation. There are still areas of improvement, and the FP&A industry is on an excellent way to achieve it.
After defining standard notation to your reports, you can jump to the next level. The narrative in data visualization moves you to data storytelling in FP&A. Ron Monteiro, Corporate (Senior) Director of Finance at Kruger Products L.P., explained best practices in FP&A dashboarding.
There are three effective data visualization considerations for FP&A:
What can FP&A do to tie in visualization and storytelling?
1. Understand the data. Storytelling will always be a critical skill for FP&A. Data is hard evidence that covers current business scenarios. It is up to you what dataset you find the most insightful to FP&A leaders. As an FP&A storyteller, you enable a quick understanding of the business issues and call to action (CTA).
2. Develop the key message. Effective data presentation happens when you are empathetic to your audience. Always think of the audience first. Formulate the story in your mind. If you have a significant variance in variable cost, it is worth adding an explanatory chart to answer the why question. Answer essential questions to develop the key message:
3. Select the right charts. Visuals support the storyline. Proper graphs, charts, and comments are tools for the audience to tell a story with data quickly.
74% of webinar attendees admit they present FP&A data in Excel or PowerPoint. Surprisingly only 21% use BI tools. It is a massive opportunity in the FP&A industry to move into smart solutions that enable collaboration and storytelling.
Michael Lengenfelder, Vice President Application Design at Unit4, told the audience how technology puts FP&A reports to the next level. Michael shared a set of data visualizations that suit IBCS. The key characteristic of a successful tool is the integration of all necessary collaboration and data presentation features in one application.
The webinar speakers shared some advice with the FP&A Trends community. It is important to get familiar with reporting standards. Firstly, find out what standards work well for your business case. Do you need to speed up processes? Do you want to improve communication? Learn how to adapt it.
FP&A professionals should also communicate findings. Become an FP&A storyteller based on your data and find the right level of detail for your planning.
Finally, find sustainable software to enable FP&A storytelling and support collaboration.
We would like to thank our global sponsor Unit4 for great support with this FP&A Trends Webinar.
To watch the full webinar recording, please check out this link.
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