AFP’s FP&A Maturity Model, developed by the FP&A Advisory Council, was designed to help organizations determine the level of maturity of their current FP&A capabilities, identify best-in-class models, and offer specific actions to improve your team. The Maturity Model is organized in four domains:
- Business Process
Each of these domains is then subdivided into five elements of FP&A practices. An FP&A team can self-evaluate on these practices on a one-to-10 scale into foundational, emerging or optimized groups. This month we are examining the technology aspect of the Maturity Model—the comprehensive and fully integrated enterprise data model with timely access to centrally managed operational and financial data that is part of a comprehensive and formalized governance structure. The goal is to develop the infrastructure to deliver the best information to right person at the right time and in the right format.
Modeling and planning
Building predictive models to simulate spending or investments, financials or markets is at the heart of FP&A, so the technology needs to satisfy this in a strong way. A model is a small scale representation of a larger enterprise or system, but one that can be controlled, understood, and managed in a way that allows us to see potential impacts of decisions. Since that larger system is in constant flux, the models need to be flexible, approachable, and robust; it should also include workforce, capital, and revenue model capabilities.
The aspiration for FP&A is to leverage a fully integrated enterprise modeling and planning platform, with centralized administration, common driver values and business rules; it has capabilities for driver-based modeling, what-if analysis, simulation and scenario planning.
Models become plans, and plans become action; monitoring these steps to generate insight and communicate to the business requires effective reporting. The goal is to produce a wide variety of actionable reports with minimal time spent aggregating and “massaging” the data.
The aspirational FP&A uses a standardized, enterprise reporting platform that’s seamlessly integrated with a common data repository; there’s a strong level of automated self-service reporting and analysis capabilities.
Toolset alignment to business planning
When bringing an entire enterprise onto a single platform, the technology should align finance and operations by integrating models across functions. This will create a single set of planning information. This must also be facilitated by personal relationships, which is discussed in the “People and Skills” portion of the Maturity Model.
The aspirational FP&A uses robust, purpose-built applications that have been implemented and deployed across the organization for core planning and reporting processes and for all of related operational and business planning processes (e.g., strategic planning, capital planning, workforce planning, and project planning).
Data management and integration
The definition of data management from DAMA International is the development and execution of architecture, policies, practices and procedures that properly manage the full data lifecycle needs of an enterprise. Or, more simply, garbage in, garbage out. Planning technology needs to enable the enterprise to work from a common data foundation.
The aspiration is that all data for core FP&A processes is available and accessed via a centralized data repository; information architecture automates the sourcing, transformation, integration, and distribution of data to analytic applications; master data is managed through a single enterprise application.
Dashboards and advanced analytics
Dashboards may be considered a subset of reporting overall; the distinction here is auto-population of key information with real-time data, customized for different users, and generally with a graphical interface.
The aspiration is that FP&A relies on a robust analytical environment where dashboards are tailored to various types of end-users, provide common analytical drill paths, and visualize information in unique and insightful ways.
Bryan Lapidus, FP&A, is a contributing consultant and author to the Association for Financial Professionals. Reach him at BLapidus@AllegianceAG.com.
Download the AFP FP&A Maturity Model to see where you and your team fall on the maturity curve, plus find steps to improve performance.