In the world of FP&A, there’s no shortage of things to worry about. Some issues are global in reach. Others come at you at rapid pace from just down the hall. Yet whether they originate on another continent or from a cubicle on the second floor, these challenges can consume your time, bog down your team, and keep even the most experienced CFO up at night.
It’s time to attack worry with action. Here are three key stressors today’s CFOs face, and some steps you can take to move toward an active planning approach that makes your team more strategic and productive, and allows you can get a better night’s sleep.
1. The frantic speed of change
Data by its nature, perpetually expands in the digital age. Consider a report from Aureus Analytics that projects that the world’s data volume will grow by 40% per year—and by a whopping 50 times by 2020. Of course, that’s just one part of the equation. Something needs to then be done with the information make it useful and actionable. As the report states: A key for any company was being able to have “speedy insights at key decision points.”
Yet, that is easier said than done. In Adaptive Insights’ CFO Indicator Report Q1 2017, 77% of CFOs admitted that major business decisions have been delayed due to stakeholders not having access to data in a timely manner. The reality is, you have to be ready to pivot quickly and plan and forecast efficiently to keep your company competitive. You want data that you and your people can analyze from multiple angles quickly and easily.
The only to the growing mountain of data and swift changes, is to work in ways that allow you to keep pace with that change. The problem is you are most likely mired in a static planning environment. With static planning, FP&A gets bogged down in logging in figures, checking spreadsheets or navigating legacy systems. You are always making compromises between trying to offer strategic insights and analysis and simply getting work done on deadline. With active planning, you have a fast, easy and powerful answer to effectively navigate and leverage data, not be crushed by it. You can move toward dynamic rolling forecasts and getting timely data needed to make key business decisions.
2. Your job is changing—dramatically
As a CFO, you know your job has shifted away from pure numbers and towards being more strategic adviser to help the business grow. According to a 2016 survey from Kaufman Hall, 90% of CFOs feel the need to do more with data to help upper management make critical decisions.
It doesn’t stop there. Because the scope of the job has changed, there’s the need to now work across departments. You need to get people on board and help them make their own decisions. What’s essential is a common language and more meaningful collaboration.
So, the expectations have grown. To meet them requires a new approach that moves away from finance being order-takers and becoming more strategic partners. To do that requires moving to cloud-based technology solutions that can consolidate data into a single source of truth for your organization, and allow you and your team to generate strategic insights.
Of particular value is the capability to quickly do scenario planning that allows you to assess the impact of changing market conditions or make strategic decisions that help drive the business. You and your team can start collaborating more and more effectively with business leaders across the organization. The bottom line—you can be proactive instead of always being in reactive mode. That’s not only good for your business, but also your career.
3. You can’t attract top talent
Millennials, you might have heard, don’t mind switching jobs—21% did so in the last year, according to 2016 Gallup report. And not to pile on, but 71% of the 21- to 37-year-old generation are either not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. That makes them the least engaged generation in the workplace.
But here’s the good part. Since they’re willing to leave a company, you can recruit them. And what they’ll jump for, the thing they want the most, is the chance to learn and grow. They care about that more than having an office that’s fun, a workplace that’s informal, even more than how much they’re paid.
Creating an active planning environment is, again, is a key ingredient if you want to win the talent war. Active planning assures that your team isn’t bogged down in spreadsheets or at the mercy of IT. Instead, you can focus on deeper analytics and developing strategic insights that help drive business results and engage business partners. In turn, that will keep your team engaged and challenged. That helps boost retention.
Not only that, it also aids in recruiting the best talent. When job seekers learn that they will be able to use their skills and talents, and grow professionally, you start developing a reputation as a prime destination for talent. People will want to join your team. And once they are on board, they will want to stay.
No doubt, there will always be worries and challenges if you sit in the CFO seat. But moving to an active planning solution can make those worries far more manageable, and ensure you’ll sleep better at night.