You’ve spent a career mastering both your craft and the tools it takes to accomplish it. That’s why most finance teams stick to their spreadsheets and static planning methods. However, those old tools and processes can only take you so far. Static planning leaves little time for the strategic, big picture analysis that can be the real game changer for the bottom line, not to mention your journey up the corporate ladder.
If you want your career to advance beyond juggling spreadsheets, you need to play a role in defining strategy and measuring its success. It starts by collaborating with stakeholders and team leaders to understand their business needs. Only then can you deliver the relevant data and insightful analyses that will build trust with business managers and establish your value to the team.
It’s not a matter of choosing between spreadsheets or corporate performance management software. It’s a matter of using the right tool for the job. A hammer is perfect for driving a single nail or for a small project; if you need to roof an entire house, it’s smarter to go with the nail gun. It’s the same with FP&A. Having both spreadsheets and strategic financial resources as your disposal gives you the power and flexibility needed to be most effective. If you limit yourself to just spreadsheets, you'll be ill-equipped to handle complex tasks like building sophisticated models that scale as your business grows or deploying rolling forecasts across an organization.
The smartest way to advance your career is to be a trusted partner to non-finance team members and leadership. If you can simplify the numbers so others can take action you'll always have a seat at the table. However, without the right tools it's difficult to provide the strategic financial analysis, data visualization, or targeted reports needed to contribute. Increase your visibility by improving your ability to identify risks, discover areas of opportunity, evaluate what-if scenarios, and communicate the story behind the numbers.
By providing accurate, real-time data to business managers, you can create flexible models that allow you to quickly and easily test a range of variables and scenarios. Things like automatic report generation and data visualization make information easier to digest and analyze, while collaborative capabilities allow you to improve visibility and build trust. When you can deliver relevant data and visuals that support better decision making, you become a more valuable partner to the business, and increase the value of your personal brand.
Software that makes the planning process collaborative, comprehensive and continuous allows you to engage in what we call "active planning". Benefits of active planning include:
When you have these 3 components, we call it "active planning"
I now have more time to analyze the data and have meaningful discussions with each of our operations—for example, where costs can be reduced and incomes maximized. In this way, we have been able to be far more strategic, with time to share learning experiences, identify opportunities, and ultimately add value to the business.
Peter Cannan, Group Financial Controller