Finance Practitioners Share Their New Year’s Resolutions

Typewriter with white paper page on wooden table. sample text 2017 New Year's Resolutions. vintage style toned picture--for finance and FP&A, forecasts

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.

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2017 is the year we improve collaboration

Respondents have different reasons for resolving to get more budget owners involved in the planning process. Some want to reduce ad hoc reporting requests that nibble away at the team’s time. Others are counting on self-service reports to generate greater ownership and a deeper sense of collaboration across the business units. “We plan to continue building partnerships and working cross-functionally with the business,” said a senior FP&A manager at a marketing technology company.

In reality, all of these goals may be interrelated: 79% of CFOs say lack of time presents the biggest collaboration challenge, according to the Adaptive Insights CFO Indicator Q3 2016 report.

2017 is the year we embrace cube sheets

Multiple scenario planning is the ultimate modeling tool for modern FP&A teams, because it allows them to react quickly to internal or market changes. In our poll, several finance pros pointed to the embrace of cube sheet functionality in Adaptive Planning as a top resolution for 2017. With cube sheets, finance teams can create spreadsheets with up to 10 dimensions, drastically simplifying the planning of large volumes of data.

When CFOs were asked how they could provide the most strategic value during a possible economic contraction, 48% pointed to multiple scenario planning, according to the Adaptive Insights CFO Indicator Q1 2016 report.

2017 is the year we kick spreadsheets to the curb

Three in 10 CFOs manage data from five or more sources, according to a 2015 global survey of more than 400 CFOs, conducted by Adaptive Insights. Roughly two-thirds anticipate the amount of data their teams will have to manage will climb by at least 26% over the next five years. For teams saddled with manual processes, that data deluge means more time spent updating and verifying—and a markedly higher probability of errors.

Savvy finance pros aren’t waiting any longer to move from manual spreadsheets to more automated processes. Many respondents said this will be the year they automate more—and reap the benefits.

2017 is the year we pick up the forecasting pace

The idea of relying solely on an annual plan—that takes months to build and can be out-of-date on day one—seems almost antiquated. As the market shifts or internal realities evolve, that static forecast can become nearly impossible to hit. More than 40% of CFOs miss their topline forecasts by 7% or greater, according to our CFO Indicator Q3 2015 report.

Luckily, rolling forecasts are gaining ground at companies of all size and across industries. Underpinned by real-time, integrated data, rolling forecasts can increase speed without sacrificing data accuracy. Setting up a regular cadence for rolling forecasts was a top resolution for several finance leaders in our informal poll. “Our resolution is to continually work on and fine tune our budget process all year,” said a Canada-based accounting manager.

There’s no resolution rule that says the finance team can make only one change, of course. Our poll showed many finance professionals were eager to embrace multiple resolutions and to keep moving the needle on how the finance function runs, collaborates, and drives strategy for their companies.

Looking to the year ahead, one finance leader summed up her feelings in a word: “Excited!”

Watch the webcast, “Cloud Computing for Real-World Finance”

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