The digital economy is asking more from CFOs than in ever before. Technologically connected business supply chains, an information age-enabled investor marketplace and a socially networked consumer community are reshaping the rules of engagement for finance teams. Gone are the days of cycle time-based budgeting, forecasting and analysis. Real-time decision support is here to stay and expected to gain momentum.
Estimates indicate that there will be approximately 50 billion connected devices in the global marketplace by the year 2030, propelling the need for finance teams to integrate big data, social media and the information super highway. Is your organization ready for this emerging transformational trend? What do you need by way of human capital to meet the challenges of this new era? Can your organization afford not to engage effectively in this highly time sensitive digital economy transformation?
The finance professional community is embracing this new challenge as illustrated by recent CFO Research findings. Four major highlights discerned from the study can be summarized as follows, further affirming the impending finance transformation:
- Finance professionals have embraced their increasing influence across the organization and are excited for the opportunities that lie ahead.
- Scope of the evolving finance profession will continue to embrace risk management, M&A, IT and other key functions as the finance team influence expands.
- Finance teams will continue to be challenged in delivering their primary performance management scope of work.
- In an effort to be real-time strategic business partners to the functional units, finance teams see an increase in automation and digitization as necessary.
Continued rapid technology growth shrinks the decision-making timelines, forcing organizations to build agile, reliable and resourceful decision support capabilities amidst imperfect and incomplete information with very little margin of error. CFO teams are being called upon to channel their inner Yoda and walk the professional tight rope of “Do or do not; there is no try”. For each trial causes loss of time and momentum that could tarnish reputation and value creation of a firm where social media-led brand management and capital attraction is the call of the day. Needless to say, CFOs have more at stake than ever before and their success is expected to be directly predicated on the agility and viability of their financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams.
Only an organization capable of attracting and retaining effective FP&A professionals will have the opportunity to make this digital economy transformation successful. Like all successful people, successful FP&A professionals also embody winning character traits. Let us take a look at what makes a FP&A professional successful or not.
Successful FP&A Teams
· Embrace change
· Continually learn
· Understand they do not know it all
· Collaborate with business partners to meet shared goals
· Share data and information
· Focus and master their craft
· Fear change
· Stop learning
· Think they know it all
· Horde information and data
· Refuse to set goals
· Get distracted regularly
· Take the easy way out
FP&A teams embodying the “do’s” have the potential to function as the pit crew for the race car and influence their organization to emerge victorious, by careful calibration and predictive analytics-based guidance on how the race ought to be run. Any lapse in judgement by the pit crew could not only cause the car to lose the race but could destroy both the car and driver.
The good news for organizations and their CFOs is that FP&A professionals have the inherent ability to learn and grow. The Balanced Score Card approach has already shown CFOs and other executives that investment in learning and development cultivates committed, innovative FP&A team members who will take ownership for shared goals and apply their technical skills to innovate analytical solutions and enhance both business process decision-making and internal and external customer service, leading to the realization of financial performance management goals.
Digital ear-led business transformation is the exciting future that awaits us and this journey cannot be embarked on without a solid FP&A team to shape that change. AFP is a global strategic partner in this transformational journey, helping organizations groom the next generation FP&A professionals. The launch window for strategic advantage in such a transformation is limited and the future belongs to those who have the awareness to make use of the opportunity at the optimal time. As with everything in life, even in FP&A, timing is everything.
Dr. Kasthuri Henry, PhD, CTP is a Six Sigma Black Belt.