By now, it’s clear that CFOs are expected to do far more than provide accurate reporting. When seeking out strategic advice, CEOs turn to their finance chiefs a whopping 72% of the time. But just as finance leaders must become trusted advisors, the amount of data they must manage is exploding. By 2020, digital data will hit 44 trillion gigabytes, which would fill a stack of iPads extending to the moon more than six times.
As the pace of change continues to accelerate, then, CFOs must act as pilots, according to a recent PwC white paper. That means stepping into the cockpit and guiding their businesses through turbulence, aided by cutting-edge dashboards that allow them to develop “what-if simulations” and make mid-course corrections when necessary.
These new, real-time dashboards allow not just the finance team, but a wide variety of stakeholders across the company, to update operational information and engage with data in far more impactful ways.
Remember “Who Moved My Cheese?” the classic business book that used some mice to exemplify the challenges and opportunities presented by change in the workplace?
Well, when it comes to FP&A in recent years, the cheese has not only moved. You could make a sound argument that it’s been eaten as well.
Put another way, CFOs and finance pros are dealing with a double-whammy spawned by swift and unprecedented change. For starters, the amount and complexity of data to be managed and analyzed has grown exponentially. Yet beyond that lies another seismic shift in the expectations of FP&A—the increasing demand to effectively collaborate with internal partners on an ongoing basis to improve planning and decision making, and, ultimately, drive better business results.
Key to that effort is moving away from static approaches to planning and toward an active planning model. Active planning involves generating broad and deep engagement of the planning process across the organization.
Here are five actions that can help you get started on the path to better collaboration.
You know it’s coming—that dreaded request for yet another corporate report. And it can sometimes feel like the team is simply going through the motions, methodically generating report after report, serving up numbers that the board, top management, business unit VPs, and others need to understand the health of the organization.
But the growing mountain of operational and financial data stored across disconnected systems is making it increasingly difficult to deliver actionable information to these stakeholders.
Our CFO Indicator Q4 2016 report explored the reporting process with over 400 global CFOs, seeking to understand the key reporting challenges that must be overcome if CFOs and their teams intend to elevate the value of the reporting function. Our results show that while most CFOs (85%) claim to have direct access to the data they need, many are spending too much time gathering that data, confirming its accuracy and consistency, and formatting reports so that they can be digested by those outside of finance. This leaves very little time for the value-added analysis that stakeholders need to inform strategic decision-making. Continue reading →
There’s no doubt about the goal of your annual budget: Provide a foundation for the upcoming fiscal year, and as the year progresses, track corporate performance against it.
No problem, right? The challenge is, traditional budgets are often unresponsive to market changes. That means targets are not consistently aligned to strategy, long-range plans don’t support overall objectives, and accountability is unclear.
The annual corporate financial plans that have long been a business staple seem almost quaint in the context of today’s breakneck business pace. The hottest new concept is corporate performance management, known as CPM, an evolution of business intelligence that gathers data from around the organization in a closed-loop process of continuous adjustment. The intent is to make the company more nimble and responsive to changes in its environment.
Adaptive Insights Inc. was one of the first companies to provide a cloud-based CPM solution and, with more than 3,000 customers, has broken into a market that includes some of the largest software vendors. It has raised $176 million in the process. Its chief competitor, Anaplan Inc., has raised $234 million and recently lured Red Hat Inc. CFO Frank Calderoni to become president and chief executive.
In an interview with SiliconANGLE, Tom Bogan, CEO of Adaptive Insights, said these moves testify to the promise of the CPM market.
Analytics is arguably one of the top tools driving business today. As the discipline matures and technology advances, many companies are finding analytics to be an absolute necessity to better gauge a wide range of factors that directly affect their business—from customer demand to weather patterns.
But is finance at the center of the analytics revolution? According to a recent study, only 30% of respondents say FP&A is a priority where accessing information and analytics capabilities is concerned. In other words, the very people who need the tools the most don’t appear to have access to them. This makes it challenging for FP&A to drive analytics if they don’t have what’s necessary to succeed.
When ZAGG missed its guidance estimates of net sales by 33% a few years back, the mobile accessories company turned to Adaptive Insights for a cloud finance solution that enables active planning—planning that’s collaborative, comprehensive, and continuous.
Today, ZAGG has the analytics and insights it needs to understand key business drivers and quickly develop accurate product forecasts. Continue reading →
Sometimes the first step toward solving a problem is defining it. Give it a name, and the challenge becomes easier to get your hands—and head—around.
Then, if you can identify the clear solution, well, now we’re talking.
That’s the process we recently underwent at Adaptive Insights. We focused on identifying the near-universal problem that vexes FP&A: How can FP&A become more invested in the strategic analysis aspect of finance and engage operations in the planning process?
You know the drill. Finance does most of the work while others are called upon to “submit input.” The process is considered drudgery by many and a necessary evil by others. In addition, it prevents finance pros from adding optimal value to their organizations or reaching their full potential.
What’s inefficient, hinders corporate progress, and stifles productivity? You guessed it—the financial budgeting process.
In an era where the modern CFO is steadily emerging as a strategic force—armed with real-time data and game changing insights—it’s clear that old-school, static budgeting procedures just don’t make the cut. An active budgeting process, on the other hand, is collaborative, comprehensive, and continuous—and can increase buy-in and accountability throughout the organization.
There is a burning need for FP&A teams to become more strategic partners to business. When we surveyed more than 300 finance leaders for the Adaptive Insights CFO Indicator Q2 2016 report, 75% said they wanted their teams to have a significant and strong impact on their organization—but only 46% believed they could have that kind of impact by 2017. What was the disconnect? The chief reason cited was a lack of time for strategic planning.
With 2017 now underway, it’s clear that visionary finance leaders need to reimagine the very ways that FP&A teams function and collaborate—and usher in a new shift in culture. Kerman Lau, vice president of finance at Adaptive Insights, and Hitesh Peshavaria, a partner and advisory leader at Deloitte, recently discussed this in a webinar. They offered practical steps that FP&A leaders can take to realize a culture of analytics—where FP&A spends less time on manual and transactional tasks, and more time on analysis and generating strategic insights.