Sharing FP&A Best Practices in a Live, Open Forum

Sharing our internal FP&A model allows our FP&A peers to see how our software solutions work in real-life, real-time situations.

This article was written by Tony Acosta, formerly Manager, Financial Planning & Analysis at Adaptive Insights, a Workday company.

There’s a quiet revolution occurring in FP&A. Finance professionals are ditching their back-office stereotypes. They are collaborating more, generating faster, more relevant insights, and playing a more visible role to develop strategy and deliver better results. And they are asking questions—plenty of them—as they work to learn and develop best practices at their organizations.

I get a weekly reminder of this ongoing FP&A insurgence as a member of the finance team here. For the last several months, I’ve hosted our interactive FP&A Roundtable, a weekly online gathering of finance professionals to discuss finance best practices, tools, and advice for getting the most out of Workday Adaptive Planning.

Moderating a roundtable is a role I never expected to play, but one I have grown to enjoy. While the traditional FP&A path has been a largely solitary endeavor, more and more I see practitioners who are eager to collaborate and build an engaged community around our shared challenges and opportunities.

You’ll Learn from Real-World Examples

Here’s what makes this FP&A Roundtable particularly unique: It’s hosted exclusively by our internal FP&A team. As a result, we bring our in-the-trenches experiences to the table each week. Specifically, we share the FP&A model we have built to better manage our own organization’s current financials and KPIs, provide vision into our short-term trajectory, and strategize for the long-term success of our organization.

Sharing our internal FP&A model allows our FP&A peers to see how our software solutions work in real-life, real-time situations, as opposed to a PowerPoint presentation. We can talk through how we address problems and how we use FP&A tools to collaborate in new ways with partners throughout our entire organization. On any given week, the roundtables can go in just about any direction and cover the full gambit of topics, from reporting tips to topline forecasting and pipeline analysis. Over the last several months I’ve seen three key areas of focus emerge as participants discuss their challenges.

Challenge #1: Better Data Integration

Integrating data these days is clearly the key catalyst for FP&A to make a bigger impact on the business—and the bottom line. Yet it remains a big challenge—in our CFO Indicator Report Q4 2016 60% of CFOs identified data integration as the technology hurdle that most stands in the way of gaining actionable reporting information. Whether it’s flowing data in from spreadsheets, Salesforce, or other platforms, we often spend time during the roundtable showing and sharing some relatively simple steps to greater, more seamless and automated integration with Adaptive Insights. After all, once you have the majority of your data in one place, representing a single source of truth for your company, you can operate more efficiently. These efficiency gains provide finance professionals the time and tools for more insightful analysis, enabling them to become even more strategic participants in the organization.

Challenge #2: Going Beyond Spreadsheets

Better data integration lays the foundation to be able to take Workday Adaptive Planning to the next level—and that typically means going beyond Excel spreadsheets. During the roundtable, we hear how users are currently integrating Excel to varying degrees with Workday Adaptive Planning to work more efficiently and generate more relevant financial reports and forecasts. Workday Adaptive Planning users share how they have stretched beyond doing only revenue planning to build out a dynamic model that allows them to quickly generate reports, dive into forecasting, do scenario planning, and perform in-depth analysis.

Challenge #3: Leveraging Financial Dashboards

Financial dashboards do a great job of turning data into actionable insights. During the roundtable discussions, you can view our dashboards, visualizations, and charts to get a sense of the power of self-service interactive dashboards. Visuals that would take quite a long time to build in Excel can be created in minutes using dashboards. For example, you can easily see variances in waterfall charts, or personalize dashboards using relevant KPIs. And of course, dashboards help make it easier to communicate and craft the narrative behind the data and then show it in ways that help aid decision-making and foster collaboration.

Shared Resources in the FP&A Community

What really inspires me during these roundtable discussions is when an existing customer shares his or her experience or passes on a tip with the wider group about how they solved a problem. These unscripted moments underscore the value of collaboration and the willingness of FP&A pros to share their expertise and experience.

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