Not only does data need to be accessible in real time, it also needs to be visualized and ready to use for decision-making, Tam said. Gone are the days of spending hours manually manipulating and cleansing data to prepare for analysis.
“We see next-level FP&A teams being able to leverage technology to have that data ready to use,” she added.
And to use the data means organizations will need talent with skills that go beyond core financial know-how, such as accounting and technical financial skills. FP&A teams also need to think about how they can become strategic thought partners and, ultimately, value creators.
“It’s important to seize the right technology to drive insights and an acute focus on talent to really be a next-level FP&A team,” Tam said.
Tackling the Talent Equation
Filling next-generation FP&A teams with the right talent will demand creativity from CFOs, especially as more traditional finance tasks become automated.
Insight generation, deep analysis, and problem-solving skills are some of the traits finance leaders should focus on for the future, Tam said. Such roles will only increase in importance amid environments that are growing in complexity.
“There’s definitely a role on FP&A teams for both breadth and depth of experience,” she said.
In a tight labor market, finding the right people could also involve investing in developing existing talent, as well as tapping team members with nontraditional backgrounds, Tam added. “CFOs are going to need to take some creative steps to think about how to solve for those skills in the future.”
Visualizing the Role of Technology
While enabling next-level FP&A teams requires investments in technology, the road to digital transformation isn’t as simple as adding a budget line. A well thought-out roadmap is essential to understanding what parts of the finance function make sense to automate for greater efficiency, Tam said. “We often recommend organizations start, particularly within finance, with some of the more transactional, more routine areas—such as accounts payable, general ledger accounting—because those are activities that tend to be easier to automate.”