The AFP 2022 Conference Planning Task Force recently met to review all educational session submissions and select the final session lineup for each of the six tracks. Because we’re too excited to wait until this fall to share the information with you, below are some highlights of the sessions we’re most interested in on the topic of Financial Planning & Analysis.
“The broad scope of submissions this year from experts in the FP&A space covers everything from systems and AI to the people aspects, very distinct ends of the spectrum,” said Jaime Dzerve, FPAC, senior finance manager, Verizon Enterprise Solutions.
A running theme throughout the submissions this year appears to be one of structure. At this point, most organizations understand the value of FP&A and are at the very least trending toward partnership with their internal team. “This year we’re seeing a move beyond the partnership to put a structure in place — AI or some other type of system — to ensure success, which means your business is getting the insights they need,” said Dzerve.
“In times of uncertainty, such as we're facing right now, we always come back to the fundamentals,” said Kristine Karlsen, FPAC, Strategy & Corporate Development, WGL. “What makes FP&A strong to begin with? We're seeing that theme throughout the conference, while branching out into what the future holds, and how do we adapt to it without losing focus of the financial values.” Two sessions that stand out as speaking to the financial values theme are: How to Quantify the Value of Major Projects and Integrated Budgeting and Forecasting to Prepare for Any Scenario.
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When asked if there is, among the submissions, a solution found to a problem you’re currently experiencing at work, Joe Groat, FPAC, director of FP&A, U. S. Steel had this to say: “I’m most excited about the utopian EPM solution session. We're in the middle of a transformation right now, thinking about reduced forecast cycle times, increased accuracy, and getting the most out of enhanced analytics to leverage the technology and the data that's available to help make decisions more rapidly. And with better data, I'm looking forward to that.” A couple of other sessions Groat, and those of you in the same boat, may find valuable are: Integrated Operational Execution & Financial Planning at Covanta and Finance: Superstar of Organizational Transformation.
“I’m excited about the round tables,” said Karlsen. “Gaining insights from the practitioners as to what they have seen out in the field there is tremendously helpful to bring back to our own organizations.” Here’s a sneak peek with two of the round tables we’re particularly excited to share: Zero to 60: Get Your System Implementations & Upgrades Running Well and How to Do Less in Order to Do Better.
“Another session focuses on how to put strategy back into your plans which is a particularly interesting and timely topic,” said Karlsen. “Strategy - by its very definition - drives the direction of the company and FP&A essentially ‘puts the pedal to the test’ — how efficiently can you navigate while staying true to the nature of the business.”
We asked the committee if there are any innovative ideas or topics that excite them in this year's lineup. “I’m interested in the AI enabled forecasting session,” said Dzerve. “It’s not something I’ve been exposed to, so to be able to see what that entails will be really interesting.”
“To build on that, what can machine learning do for finance, and the AI-enabled forecasting subjects in the MindShift are very interesting,” said Groat. “I look forward to learning from those practitioners and experts.” The session, What Can Machine Learning do for Finance? presents case studies in ML applications, while Working Smarter, not Harder: How to Utilize No-code/Low-code Tools to do the Heavy Lifting demonstrates easy-to-deploy automation for daily use.