For FP&A to interact and contribute to the company, its systems and data need to interact as well. AFP’s latest FP&A Guide, underwritten by Adaptive Insights, looks at how a new system can be successfully integrated into current processes.
KEYS TO INTEGRATION
The admonition “don’t pave the cow path” is a warning not to entrench in code an existing process just because it is there; the new technology may create opportunities, change the way work gets done and open new, more direct paths—or even eliminate the paths entirely.
“Technology is necessary but not sufficient to make a planning implementation work—there is no plug-and-play!” said Philip Peck, VP of Peloton Consulting Group. To get the maximum benefit from the new system, Peck recommends business process redesign. “Processes should be fit to a purpose, and business process redesign (BPR) is a critical step to maximizing your investment in the technology.”
This total process approach allows an organization to think about bigger questions of how to structure the work and the FP&A team. Many companies are moving FP&A members to be closer to the business or widening the span of support they give. Others (large companies) are setting up a third branch—the shared service center or center of excellence (COE) that works in tandem with the business partner, executing on reports, deep dives and analysis. Once the province of A/R or A/P, COEs are moving up the analytical chain to standardize reports, data definitions and provide technical research. They may partner with the frontline business partner to provide team support and centralize ownership of data governance and tool maintenance.
Other practitioners let the technology guide their BPR. “An important consideration would be to determine which business processes need to change due to the improved functionality available in a new system,” said Sarah Moriarty, Assistant Director of Financial Management Systems at Harvard University. “To simply replicate outdated and inefficient business processes negates the positive impact the new system could make.”
The roadmap requires thinking through organizational changes, but how can you do that when the art of the possible is not even known? Fresenius Medical Care took a slightly different approach to BPR, as Finance Manager Marcus Gadson, CTP, explained. “In the phase 1 initial deployment [of the SaaS implementation,] we mimicked their spreadsheet-based process. From there, we got feedback from leadership and usership on how they wanted things, and then BPR occurred after the first rollout because we understood the needs of the stakeholders.”
IMPLICATIONS & ACTIONS
Consider the services that finance delivers to the customer, and how new technology could change the operating model and delivery of those services through organizational or process changes.
Download the AFP Guide to Implementing a Planning System, Part 1: Laying the Groundwork here.