We have previously touched upon the creative possibilities provided by IBM® Planning Analytics.

To make the most of the opportunities created through curiosity and having access to the bigger picture, it is crucial to assess your processes. If they are operating at below potential and your finance function is struggling each month just to provide the basic numbers let alone present the story they’re telling, it’s time to make some changes.

We’ve talked before about freeing up the valuable time of your analysts – you don’t want to be paying them to purely undertake tasks for which they are overqualified. If they are still working within spreadsheet-based models and having to manipulate one billion data points then they are almost certainly not engaging with much value-added activity; they will not have the time to follow leads from anything interesting they turn up in the numbers.

Financial planning and analysis is not carried out just for the sake of creating accurate forecasts. The whole purpose of the activity is to equip you to make better decisions, but there can be a disconnect between the way your finance function and those making the decisions for business will interpret the numbers in front of them.

The fundamental element required for truly valuable business insights is storytelling. Those carrying out the FP&A need to have the time and resources to allow them to present the information in such a way that everyone across the organisation can understand the full narrative.

There can be a temptation to create ‘board books’ for management, featuring the numbers in user-friendly dashboards, freeing up the finance function to return to data gathering and presentation. The inherent risk of this however is the knowledge gap between finance and the more creative side of the business. Within this gap is an understanding of the ‘why’ behind the numbers, without which, business users can draw conclusions based on their own, sometimes incorrect, assumptions and risk missing out on the more valuable insights on offer.

A much more useful way of working is a more collaborative approach between business units, based around a more comprehensive ‘playbook’ that incorporates a variety of data with a narrative built around it. Decision-makers can then generate actionable insights with a view of the whole story as actually told by the numbers in front of them.

Using Planning Analytics will equip your finance function to better support your business. No longer constrained by a heavy workload of the basic data gathering and consolidation activities, they will be able to tell the story behind the numbers and drive profitable insights for the organisation.

Get in touch today if you want to start seeing the full picture of your numbers.

Simon Bradshaw

I have worked in finance and business systems development since 2001 and am an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. In 2016 I became a founding member of Spitfire Analytics, a consultancy specialising in IBM Planning Analytics. We are committed to building long-term relationships across all industries. I focus on my CPD through CIMA and IBM badges, ensuring I am always abreast of best practice and developments within the industry.


Spitfire have a depth of understanding not only in Cognos/TM1 technologies, but also in finance and accounting. It is this combination of expertise and their ability to get to the heart of business problems that has resulted in such confidence in their delivery and capabilities. The insight and value-add they have brought is evident.

- Peter Smith, Head of Solution Delivery, Edrington

Request a demo →

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.