Chances are, you don’t even own a road map anymore. If you do, it’s likely living out the years buried in the glove box of your car, never to be unfolded again.
Of course, GPS has largely put paper maps out of business—and for obvious reasons. Among other benefits, GPS provides real-time information—and can even offer forward-looking guidance for a new and better route when there is roadwork or a traffic delay ahead.
A similar dynamic is at play when it comes to FP&A forecasting. Most companies base their long-range forecasts on static planning processes, rather than more relevant, dynamic plans that reflect the complexities of the business. Relying on a forecast that doesn’t enable continuous monitoring of company performance, instead of upgrading to the GPS of FP&A—the rolling forecast—is like using an old-school road map to guide you on a cross-country trip.
Forget things that go bump in the night. For financial professionals, it’s reporting errors that are the stuff of nightmares. You carefully compile data and crunch formulas, only to find a typo has thrown your findings off. Or a department head has tweaked a formula in one of the team’s many spreadsheets, radically shifting the reports. Or—just as bad—you spend hours double- and triple-checking everything, and all that wasted time means you give short shrift to the actual analysis.
Sound familiar? If so, it’s time to rethink how you prevent reporting errors. These five steps will keep mistakes from weaseling their way into your presentation slides.
What’s your New Year’s resolution? Join a health club? Start eating better? Read more books?
Yes, we know: Asking people about their resolutions might be considered impolite. But when we recently conducted an informal survey of our customer community about what finance resolutions they’re setting for 2017, they were more than happy to share their goals.
The responses ranged across the board, but a few clear trends did emerge. So without further ado, here’s what we learned.
There’s more pressure than ever for finance teams to deliver accurate, updated forecasts. But increased volatility in the economy and business landscape can make that especially challenging. So what do you do when unforeseen factors disrupt your numbers? Don’t panic.
Here are three proven ways you can get back on track.
Set aside the product coming out of your finance and accounting department for a minute and think about the process: How much time do team members waste chasing down late information? Or double-checking spreadsheets to make sure they sum properly? Or frantically slogging through data to meet a deadline—without a second to spare for deeper analysis?
Some companies are transforming how their finance team works—by slashing waste and maximizing efficiencies. In other words, they’re applying lean principles, an approach that many associate more with the auto industry or manufacturing plants than FP&A. But it turns out that lean has been widely and successfully introduced in non-manufacturing environments for years.
Whether finance leaders are presenting to the board or to the C-suite, stakes are high. Yet too often the finance team pulls together presentations with outdated tools, which ensures results will be stale, sloppy, or downright wrong.
And whether it’s an annual presentation or a one-off ask, a giant audience or a small gathering, having the wrong info glowing on the slide is a surefire way to look like a novice, no matter how much time your team has poured into the data.
Ready to put those lousy presentations to bed? Here are three main reasons finance leaders flop when standing at the front of the room—and how you can make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
Adaptive Insights founder and chairman Rob Hull headed down to Orlando, Florida, recently to host a panel at the annual conference of the Association for Finance Professionals (AFP). His very timely topic was “The three technology shifts that are changing the role of FP&A.” The subject appears to be a top-of-mind issue among finance professionals: The session attracted a standing-room only crowd.
Disruption is one of today’s most popular buzzwords, and it shows no signs of slowing down in 2017. No matter how long companies have been in business, many claim that their technology, platform, or business will completely disrupt whatever industry it’s in.
But while those organizations may have a disruptive mindset, they don’t necessarily have a growth mindset. They focus on earnings and short-term numbers instead of long-term growth and value creation. And they use the same tried-and-true business processes that companies have used for decades—processes that will hamstring their growth while the competition leapfrogs ahead.
Excel is like a lot of useful but familiar tools—use it long enough and it becomes a habit. You take the well-worn path of actions and approaches to get the job done, even if they are not necessarily the fastest and most effective ways to get the best results.
Mastering Excel is key to gaining what every finance professional needs to succeed: More time. By working faster and more efficiently in Excel, you can free up extra time to support the strategic priorities of your organization. And that could help you move up the corporate ladder.
When we ask CFOs what keeps them up at night, their top response is usually “missing the numbers.” But here’s the thing: What really worries them is not knowing whether they’re going to miss the mark. Finance leaders simply don’t have the big picture of revenue and sales—and that’s what keeps them tossing and turning.
To solve this problem, forward-thinking CFOs are moving to a modern, integrated planning process that unifies finance and sales departments, helps them collaborate closely, and as a result, allows better, more accurate revenue forecasting and sales planning.