FP&A It Forward recently polled its Insights Advisors, a diverse international group of Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A), executive and business leaders, to learn their organization’s biggest FP&A priority(ies) for 2020, as well as, the expected increase in FP&A Happiness that will come in regards to the organization’s improved capabilities, processes and technologies once the initiative is completed.
Thank you to all Insights Advisors who participated in this independent research on 2020 FP&A priorities. If you’re interested to participate in this ongoing research, we would appreciate your involvement! It is not too late to sign-up as an Insights Advisor and contribute to this ongoing research.
Some of the Insights Advisors provided additional details on their FP&A initiatives for 2020 and have given us permission to share this with you. I bet many of the comments will ring true for you. It is good to know that you are not alone and we hope that these additional comments will encourage you in your own journey towards FP&A Happiness!
Key 2020 FP&A Priorities
Amongst the 65% of business professionals who indicated a single key FP&A area of priority for 2020, responses were split fairly evenly across the board with 17% selecting planning, forecasting or reporting; and 14% prioritizing analysis. The remaining 35% of business professionals selected multiple key FP&A areas of priority for 2020, bringing the total for each area, to between 33% and 40% each as the chart indicates.
FP&A Happiness Gap
Overall, the business professionals surveyed indicated that they expect their happiness with their organization’s FP&A capabilities, processes and technologies to increase once the key FP&A initiative(s) is completed. In fact, FP&A Happiness is expected to increase in the range of 31% to 52% as the chart above reflects.
Looking at this another way, these 2020 priorities are expected to move more than a few respondents from being unhappy or even okay to truly happy with their organization’s FP&A capabilities, processes and technologies. While the changes vary somewhat between FP&A area, 47% to 57% of respondents are expecting to FP&A Happy in 2020!
FP&A Practitioner Comments on Key Initiatives
Planning & Forecasting
Improve analysis and forecast initiatives by having an interdisciplinary integration in the cost model base of the annual forecast and budget process.
Automate the FP&A process, as well as, our reporting process which is in Excel to focus on more value-added tasks.
Looking to better forecast growth through linking of data, costs, dependencies and the eventual operating increases and revenue increases.
As a professional services firm, we need time to train new team members before assigning them to customer tasks. Capacity planning based on sales and implementation schedules allows us to hire in time to get the training completed before a capacity failure affects our ability to service our customers.
The initiative will enable the organization to accurately predict our financial and business KPIs which in turn enable the business leaders to make timely action plans and take informed decision to tactically steer the operations that lead to improved profitability and cash.
The current forecasting process is incredibly de-centralized and involves the manual distribution of Excel spreadsheets. Our current initiative to be able to capture forecast information with less headaches, less room for manual error, more visibility into the forecast amounts year over year in a fraction of the time that the current process takes.
We recently made an acquisition to triple the size of the company (by number of locations and EBITDA). At the end of Q3, we integrated them on to our Accounting system. During Q4, we will be going through the transition to ensure we are reporting the same across all locations. Starting in 2020, we will be budgeting and reporting for each location (at this time, we have been reporting regionally for the acquired locations).
We would hope that our forecasts would be more consistent with our actual results reported. More accurate forecasts.
For better planning and monthly analysis, a better solution than Excel is required. With this solution, we expect to make a clearer budget, with drill-down analysis and a better quality from details descriptions.
Reporting & Analysis
Planning to use more resources from ERP system, developing more meaningful reports and improved analysis while using different available techniques.
Improve reporting, planning and analysis for financial statement preparation.
Accurate, complete, consistent and timely reporting is critical in a rapid change and challenging environment.
Embarking on strategic planning for growth. Will continue to use Excel and QuickBooks for modelling and reporting. We use Sisense as a business intelligence tool for reporting.
The goal is to move the culture towards data-based decisions by developing procedures and tools that provide insights.
Better utilisation of existing product, mainly through users being able to refresh reports for themselves.
Data & Integration
We are at a stage when we collect large amounts of data from our clients for analysis, but it is quite challenging to have it scrubbed and organized in the way we need it to upload to our proprietary system for analysis. We learned that regardless how good of a system you have if you put ‘garbage in’ you get ‘garbage out’. Hence, Excel is still the base of scrubbing the data before uploading. This is very time consuming and takes away from the time to analyse and report on that data. Hence, we must focus on how we take the data in and then how we produce exception reports to ensure its accuracy in the system.
Other FP&A Challenges for 2020
Cultural change management will be the most significant barrier.
We have the resources and tools but nature of our business model and lack of support from business units are the concern. We are working on it though.
Some tracking and reporting functions are difficult to accurately follow on a day to day basis. This leaves us with inaccurate information which impacts our job planning decisions, and causes additional effort to research and try to dig for details.
Survey respondents were asked a series of brief questions on a 10 point scale, such as, “For the selected FP&A priority(ies), how happy do you think you will be with your organization’s capabilities, processes and technologies once the initiative is completed?”
Depending on the respondent’s score, three categories of people can be distinguished:
Happy – respondents giving a 9 or 10 score
Okay – respondents giving a 7 or 8 score
Unhappy – respondents giving a 0 to 6 score
The survey results reported above are based on 42 Insights Advisor respondents.
If you value independent research on business planning, reporting and analysis and are interested to participate as a volunteer Insights Advisors, we would appreciate you signing-up as an Insights Advisor today! The time commitment is very minimal, less than 1 minute to sign-up, then less then 20 seconds a few times a year. As per the sign-up details, you will not be added to any other email lists and will not be contacted for sales related purposes. You have our promise on this.
If you would like to contact FP&A It Forward and explore how our solutions may help you optimize planning and performance management at your organization, we would very much welcome hearing from you.