How to Improve Your FP&A Process Right Now

How to Improve Your FP&A Process Right Now

FP&A Teams Have the Wrong Focus

According to a recent report by Adaptive Insights, CFOs want their employees to spend less time on collecting and preparing data and more time on forecasting and analysis. The survey revealed that financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams are currently spending 53% of their time on reporting and data gathering alone.

“Reporting, whether it’s on actuals or forecast or planning should be quick. We shouldn’t be spending a lot of time on that,” says Jim Johnson, CFO of Adaptive Insights. “We should be spending much more time on the model that’s supporting it. The predictive analysis, the key performance indicators and the stuff that is really important for the company.”

There is a good reason why employees should spend more time on analytics. Oracle found that businesses who were effective at integrating financial and operating data, using analytics in processes and utilizing predictive analytics outranked their peers by 70% on profit and revenue.

How Can You Improve Your FP&A Process?

 

Implement a Dynamic Planning Process

First of all, your business need to incorporate a FP&A process that allow for flexibility. Rolling forecasts, for example, is one way to ensure you are adapting to market forces. Since rolling forecasts ultimately is an approach where you add or drop data on a rolling basis, you consequently have real-time insights to your performance against your predictions. APQC reported that an organization can save a median of 25 days on the annual budgeting cycle by using rolling forecasts.

“It makes no sense to use a 19th-century tool to manage 21st-century company in a volatile global economy,” argues Steve Player, a program director at the Beyond Budgeting Roundtable. “In the old days, the CFO sat in the back of the ship recording what happened. Now, the CFO stands on the bridge looking forward and adjusting for variables.”

Traditional annual budgets have limits. They often take too long to prepare, and when completed the data is already out of date. Rolling forecasts offer continuous updates to your data and a longer horizon with data up to 12-18 months ahead. Thus, you have much more accurate data and reliable insights. This, as a result, allows you to take more strategic decisions about your business.

 

Related: How to Improve Your Sales Forecast Accuracy

 

Make it Easy for Employees to Collaborate

Collaboration among employees and management is crucial for your business. First, they help you realize your goals, but they can also aid in reducing hidden costs. According to research by CEB, hidden budgeting and forecasting costs may prevent companies from realizing their full potential of investments in FP&A improvements.

How do businesses encourage collaboration? There’s one simple answer. Leverage technology.  Cloud-based software is a great solution for companies that have data that needs to be shared and aggregated by more than one employee. In addition, cloud software also allows for employees to access the same data from virtually anywhere. Finally, most cloud-based software providers offers integration with other enterprise systems, which allows you to have one source for your performance management.

 

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

 

Conclusion

While you may think your business is doing well enough, your competitors are advancing by implementing better FP&A processes like the ones discussed above. Don’t wait, instead, invest in FP&A processes that will help your business achieve outstanding results and reduce hidden costs.

DOWNLOAD FREE eBOOK!

Financial controllers are increasingly taking on the role of financial operating officer. You’re ensuring that finance runs smoothly and that there are not surprises on audit day.

But what does “running smoothly” really mean?

Download this eBook to learn six ways that today’s best-in-class controllers follow to successfully meet and overcome challenges in the profession.

DOWNLOAD
Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Predicted to Takeover

Forrester reported last summer that they estimate that cognitive technologies such as robots, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation will replace 7% of US jobs by 2025. Additionally, Gartner has predicted that one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines within ten years. Moreover, McKinsey & Co found in an analysis that “as many as 45% of the activities individuals are paid to perform can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.”

AI Takeover – What Does it Mean?

AI takeover is not a new concept; it has served as the main theme in many movies over the last decades; such as the Terminator and Matrix film series. However, science fiction films have mainly focused on true AI takeover (taking control over the planet over the human race).

There are mixed opinions on to what extend of AI takeover will happen and whether it is good for the labor force or not. Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s most known scientists, said in 2014 that he believes that “computers will overtake with AI at some within the next 100 years. When that happens we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours”. Whether it will happen in that time frame or not, one cannot argue with how technology has disrupted the labor force in the past decade.

Does AI Remove or Create Jobs?

Technology has, in the past 10 years, created jobs that never existed before; such as app developer, social media manager, and cloud computing services. Technology has also allowed humans to become more productive and created more opportunities for consumer empowerment. But is this going to be the case with AI?

Fully developed AI systems will essentially perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence. Thus, machines would be able to learn autonomously, make decisions and interact with the world via sensory capabilities.

Related: 3 Key Tech Benefits in Healthcare

Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Accenture predicts that 80% of accounting and finance tasks will be automated in the next five years. What does this mean for the future of accounting professionals?

AI is going to change the accounting profession. But rather than replacing accountants, it is simply going to alter the tasks of accountants. Bernard Marr, an author specializing in business, technology and big data, wrote in a recent article for Forbes that “it is high time for every accountant to reflect on their job, identify the opportunities machine learning could offer to them, and focus less on the tasks that can be automated and more on those inherently human aspects of their jobs”.

Ultimately, accountants need to stay ahead of the technology curve and figure out what tasks they can automate. This, as a result, will allow for more time on tasks that still require human intelligence. Robots will not replace accountants anytime soon; however, AI will definitely disrupt and change the profession.

Related: Cloud Software – The Competitive Advantage

What are you doing to stay ahead of the technology curve?

3 Key Tech Benefits in Healthcare

3 Key Tech Benefits in Healthcare

Technology is disrupting markets in significant ways by reducing costs, making systems and processes more efficient and empowering customers. The healthcare industry, which had $3.2 trillion in expenditures in 2015 (nearly 18% of total GDP) in the U.S., is expected to be able to reduce costs by $300 billion by simply implementing new technology. Before going into the key tech benefits in healthcare, we will briefly discuss the different technology solutions that are already making an impact.

Related: How do CFOs Keep Up with Technology Changes?

Artificial Intelligence

Commercialization of big data and machine learning has introduced AI to the healthcare industry and it’s believed to change the way diagnoses and treatment of patients are carried out. A study by Frost and Sullivan in 2016 projected that the AI market in healthcare will grow by 40% and reach $6.6 billion in 2021. Additionally, Frost and Sullivan also projects that AI can improve outcomes by 30-40% and reduce treatment costs by 50%. Ultimately, AI is expected to allow the health industry to automatically diagnose and recommend treatments to patients. The fact that implementing AI will reduce costs makes it even more enticing.

Mobility

By 2018 it is estimated that 65% of all interactions with healthcare facilities will be via mobile devices. In November 2016, StatCounter also reported that, for the first time, there are more users around the world that are accessing the Internet from mobile devices than from desktop computers. Needless to say, the increase in mobile usage among customers is something that the healthcare industry is taking advantage of. Mobile usage has also enabled the new concept Telemedicine, where patients can get in touch with their physicians from remote locations by simply joining a conference call.

Cloud Access

Cloud technology has changed healthcare facilities in multiple areas by for example allowing employees get real-time guidance through information systems. More importantly, cloud access has allowed healthcare facilities to safely store data and for a reduced cost. Hospitals, in particular, have to store massive amounts of data on patients on a daily basis that they ultimately use to make strategic and informed decisions about treatments.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

Main Tech Benefits in Healthcare

Technology will continue to disrupt the healthcare industry going forward, and there is a reason for it. Digital approaches offer enticing benefits for both healthcare facilities and patients.

1. Reduced Cost

Technology will reduce costs, both for businesses and customers. Businesses want to maximize profits, customers want to pay less money. All in all, it works out for everyone.

2. Better Care

Technology approaches such as cloud software allows physicians to make better informed decisions in tough times, which ultimately can improve treatments of patients and outcomes. Healthcare facilities want to treat patients so they can live longer lives and patients want to receive the best care possible. Technology makes this possible.

3. Empowered Patients

Finally, technology also empowers the patients, who no longer have to schedule their days around a doctor’s visit. Technology has essentially allowed healthcare facilities to become more patient-centric.

Conclusively, technology in healthcare offer many innovative approaches to grow and save money at the same time. What are your thoughts on technology as it relates to healthcare? Do you agree on the benefits listed above or do you see other potential benefits with technology in healthcare? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Our CPA Day of Service

For the last six years, the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants (NCACPA) have challenged its members to give back to the community by participating in the CPA Day of Service. The idea came originally from one of NCACPA’s Board of Directors...
Read More

How to Improve Your FP&A Process Right Now

FP&A Teams Have the Wrong Focus According to a recent report by Adaptive Insights, CFOs want their employees to spend less time on collecting and preparing data and more time on forecasting and analysis. The survey revealed that financial planning and analysis...
Read More

8 Signs You Might Need the Cloud

If you haven't already, it is time to consider switching over to the cloud. Gartner recently released a report on cloud computing where they predicted that by 2020, a corporate "no-cloud" policy will be as rare as a "no-internet" policy is today. In order to stay...
Read More

Sage Announces Acquisition of Intacct for $850m

On Tuesday, Sage Group, a U.K. based technology company, announced that they are acquiring Intacct Corporation. It is the largest ever acquisition by Sage, who will be purchasing Intacct for $850 million. The transaction will close within the next few weeks. Going...
Read More

7 Ways Technology Helps Your Nonprofit Grow

There are over 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States, including public charities, private foundations, and other types of nonprofit organizations such as chambers of commerce. According to a report by PNP Staffing Group, the nonprofit sector has grown 20% in the...
Read More

Cloud Accounting Software: Ultimate Guide

What is Cloud Accounting? Intuit's eBook "The Appification of Small Business" projects that 78% of small businesses will depend on cloud technology in 2020. Furthermore, Technavio's report on the global business accounting software market 2017-2021 estimates that the...
Read More

3 SMB Budgeting Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

Small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) often have budget and staffing constraints - making it even more important to have accurate forecasts and budgets. Yet, SMBs tend to make small mistakes that often result in a financial loss - or worse - closing up for good. To...
Read More

Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Predicted to Takeover Forrester reported last summer that they estimate that cognitive technologies such as robots, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation will replace 7% of US jobs by 2025. Additionally, Gartner...
Read More

How to Improve Your Sales Forecast Accuracy

What is Forecasting and Why is it Important? Forecasting is an essential part of every business as it helps you avoid unforeseen issues and manage your business more efficiently. The sales forecast is especially important, as it serves as the base for your company's...
Read More

4 Top Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Consider SaaS

What is SaaS? As discussed last week in our Beginner's Guide to Cloud Computing, software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a method where businesses purchase software via a Web-based service. The main difference with this method, from purchasing software the traditional way, is...
Read More
Business Intelligence is a Competitive Advantage

Business Intelligence is a Competitive Advantage

It’s the first day of the month, the finance and accounting teams are reconciling balance sheet accounts, recognizing revenue, accruing expenses, and recording financial transactions. Everybody is busy working against the clock to have the financial statements ready on time. Then, a request from the senior management team arrives. They want a series of sales reports so they can decide when to launch the new product line. This is a situation where a Business Intelligence (BI) solution would’ve been very handy. But let’s start with the basics.

What is Business Intelligence?

Business intelligence is the set of strategies, processes, applications, data, products, technologies and technical architectures which are used to support the collection, analysis, presentation and dissemination of business information.

Business Intelligence Systems

To implement BI, you need BI systems. These are solutions created to collect, store and analyze data for informed decision-making. These systems are particularly useful for evaluating customer or brand profitability, carrying out statistical analysis, undertaking inventory evaluation, and being part of a market research project.

Good BI solutions, at a minimum, include reporting with multidimensional aggregation and allocation, real-time information, reliable integration with the data sources and key performance indicators.

Challenges of BI Systems

Quite often, data is scattered in disparate systems such as accounting, forecasting, sales, customer relationship management (CRM), project management, inventory, etc. So, when a company decides it’s time to implement a BI tool, a big project must be launched. Not only because the new system needs to be implemented, but also because the IT department needs to create programs and processes to feed the BI tool with data extracted from all these systems.

Writing interface programs with instructions to extract data from a system requires extensive knowledge of the database. This means you need an experienced IT programmer in staff—or hire an expensive consultant—for each system that has data needed by the BI solution.

Then comes the problem of deciding how often to refresh the data in the BI system. Should it be weekly? Nightly? More than once per day? Unless you refresh the data in the BI database as soon as a transaction occurs in the originating systems, the BI information will never be real-time.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

ERP Solution with Integrated BI functionality

These issues don’t exist in an integrated solution with business intelligence capabilities. Software like this acts as the trusted system of record and depository of most of the financial and operational data. It offers the whole spectrum of core financial modules and it can be extended with fully integrated Intacct modules such as project accounting, time and expense management, contract revenue management, contract and subscription billing, inventory management, and more.

And built in the solution, multiple software companies offers the business intelligence components required to make smart and informed decisions:

  • Multidimensional aggregation and allocation. Thus, you can tag transactions to as many dimensions as needed. These dimensions can then be used on reports as criteria to sort, filter and aggregate.
  • Real-time reporting. Being an integrated system, all modules update a single database. Once a transaction is entered in any module, it is available for viewing and reporting. No IT interface programs and no IT experts are required.
  • Reliable integration with the data sources. Most systems offers pieces of software (APIs) that allow easy integration of third party systems with the database and functions.
  • Key performance indicators optimization. Most software solutions integrates dashboards that provide real-time access to key information and indicators that can be customized to meet the needs of the business.

Is your company at a stage where BI solutions are being considered? If you’re interested in learning more, check out the free whitepaper below on how to successfully launch a BI initiative.

Learn Secrets to Drive A Successful BI Initiative

A 2014 report by Dresner Advisory Services, the Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence Market Study, surveyed more than 1,200 IT and business professionals at companies of all sizes, from around the world, about their use of BI.

The study revealed that companies that achieve BI success follow five common best practices. We share these approaches to help you launch and drive a successful BI initiative at your organization — before your competitors crack the code first and pass you by.

GET FREE PDF
How Do CFOs Keep Up with Technology Changes?

How Do CFOs Keep Up with Technology Changes?

Changing Technology and Financial Pressure

Rapid change in technology has put a lot of pressure on finance and accounting teams. CFOs have increased responsibilities and their role is evolving. As a result, boardroom-level strategy is now as much of a focus as the balance sheet. Robert Half Management Resources recently released a survey with over 2,200 US companies of all sizes where they asked CFOs the following question:

“In general, what would you say is the single greatest pressure facing your accounting and finance function?”

Their responses were:

  • Keeping pace with changing technology
  • Meeting regulatory compliance mandates
  • Harnessing and managing big data
  • Finding and keeping skilled staff

Thus, based on the survey conducted by Robert Half, it seems that the greatest pressure CFOs are currently facing is changing technology. Leading financial managers should be able to look at a problem from many points of view and find a solution among disparate notions as a result. Therefore, gaining visibility into data and turning it into information is key. If data isn’t accurate, information and perceived solutions are flawed, or even worse, your solution only leads to further problems and you lose credibility.

7 Ways for CFOs To Keep Up with Technology

Paul McDonald (senior executive director for Robert Half), James C. Bourke (CPA/CITP/CFF, a partner in a large CPA firm) and Jeff Drew (Senior Editor at CGMA Magazine) have come up with seven tips that are especially relevant for CFOs to keep up with changes in technology.

  1. Hire financial staff with strong technology knowledge.
  2. Interact with in-house IT staff and outside consultants who are trusted technology experts.
  3. Attend conferences featuring sessions on current and emerging technologies.
  4. Set up RSS feeds with specific technologies as keywords.
  5. Join and become active in technology user groups.
  6. Collaborate with other CFOs at companies that use the same technologies.
  7. Meet with fellow CFOs to discuss technology issues.

How do you keep up with the pace of change in technology at your business? Do you employ any of the methods listed above?

Why Excel Can Be Bad for Your Business

Why Excel Can Be Bad for Your Business

Why Do Businesses Use It?

The main reason a businesses still rely on Excel is familiarity with the program and the extremely low cost. When it was first released it had a huge impact on the way businesses operated, as it greatly reduced the time it took to maintain financial records

Today; however, the situation is very different. The business world has changed, but many businesses continue to use it for a multitude of different purposes for which it was not intended, and at which it is not very good.

Can It Be Bad for Your Business?

Close to 90% of Excel spreadsheet contain errors. Ray Panko, professor of IT management at University of Hawaii wrote in his article What We Know About Spreadsheet Errors that “spreadsheets, even after careful development, contain errors in 1% or more of all formula cells… in large spreadsheets with thousands of formulas, there will be dozens of undetected errors”.

The reason why errors occurs with Excel is because every file is created by a person, and people make mistakes. Additionally, the opportunity for mistakes grows as the files get bigger and more employees are involved in editing the file.

There are multiple examples of Excel blunders that have caused businesses billions of dollars due to errors in Excel. Business Insider reported in April that almost one in five large businesses have suffered financial loss due to excel errors. JP Morgan, for example, lost $6.6 billion due to alleged manual copying and pasting of incorrect data with multiple Excel spreadsheets.

How Can You Avoid Errors?

Ask yourself the folllowing questions regarding your company’s use of Excel:

  1. Will the spreadsheet be used by more than 2 people?
  2. Is the information contained in the spreadsheet critical to my business?
  3. Do I rely on this information to make my company or department operate effectively?
  4. Do I need multiple copies of the data for concurrent access or for data security concerns?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of the questions above, the good news is that you can replace Excel with other cost-effective alternatives. Cloud-based and SaaS licensed products have lowered the cost and commitment of replacing Excel to a point that most organizations will be able to find a solution suitable.

Download our free guide to Why Financial Planning Belongs in the Cloud below.

LEARN ABOUT FP&A IN THE CLOUD

DOWNLOAD FREE PDF