“The only thing constant is change”- Heraclitus
Heraclitus, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, was onto something when he said, “the only thing constant is change.” This idea of perpetual transformation holds true no matter what country, continent, or era you live in. It is the only thing we can truly rely on.
Big data is one such change catalyst, particularly in the world of work. And yet, despite the influence of big data on many industries and roles, the world of FP&A has scarcely been affected. While this department leads the direction of an organization, change in this unit has been sparse. Teams rely heavily on Excel, just as they did some twenty years ago. Forecasting and analysis continue to depend on individual knowledge instead of leveraging the power of the large datasets available today.
Why is this the case? Paradoxically, it is the importance of FP&A that makes change in this domain so slow. The information involved is crucial, time is limited, and disrupting the way things are done may bear negative consequences. In turn, teams continue to depend on Excel. They carry on relying on messy methods of work that they feel they simply can’t live without. However, in a world where data and analytics are increasingly merging with organizational functions, FP&A has much to gain.
FP&A units need to embrace the wind of change. But what exactly does change look like for FP&A? We’ve outlined some key benefits of embracing change below:
Strategic planning and cushy support for decision makers
Today, analysts spend endless amounts of time gathering and putting together data. This means they spend too much time on consolidation of information, and too little time trying to understand what it all means. With easy access to data, analysts have more time to focus on what matters- analysis and modelling. And in turn, decision makers spend less time analyzing the data and more time deciding what to do with it.
Reporting and analysis made easy Automation, automation, automation. It’s written three times because it’s that important. The integration of automated processes means you save tons of time that otherwise would have been wasted. As previously mentioned, this also means your analysts do more of what they are paid to do- analyze.
Improved financial planning Finally you have greater visibility and coordination between budgets. The process of comparing, contrasting, and combining budgets becomes more agile, flexible, and fast. With real-time systems linking to business data, automated financial processes such as forecasting can be a game-changer for your business.
Since incorporating new technologies is vital for the success of your business, we’ve outlined below the top platforms we feel can help your business adapt to modern times.
BI Platform: Power BI, a business analytics service by Microsoft, is a collection of software services that work in unison to turn unrelated sources of data into visual insights. No matter what the format of your data, Power BI helps you easily turn your numerical data into powerful visualizations. You can effortlessly create reports and dashboards with its simple to use interface.
Financial Planning and Analysis Solution: DataRails designed a solution that helps finance departments change the way they work without feeling the aftershock. While finance reporting is practically unanimously done with Excel, working with Excel can be messy. DataRails offers a platform that lets you keep working the way you’re accustomed to with Excel while simultaneously improving the data collection and consolidation process. Their aim is to help you embrace the benefits of big data, while ensuring that the change process involves minimal backlash.
Sales and Operations Planning System: Anaplan’s cloud-based, enterprise Saas platform helps transform the way business decisions are made. Anaplan’s finance solution allows you to align corporate objectives with financial plans, thereby giving you the power to better manage decisions and improve collaboration.