For lots of organisations, there is a distinct gap between the experience of the finance function and what the business wants from them.

Pressures on the finance team

Each reporting month, potentially excessive time is dedicated to rushing to close month-end, involving:

  • Gathering data sets
  • Scrutinising, reconciling and fixing errors
  • Processes and analysing data in Excel workbooks
  • Trying to explain the insights gained to senior management.

What the business wants

Put simply, leaders want a better understanding of the analysis they receive from their finance team. 88% of decision makers want the data and insights simplified for them according to a CFO report. But at the moment, for many organisations, the business of gathering, reconciling and analysing is tying finance up and preventing them from delivering what senior management are looking for.

Wouldn’t it be great if modelling and reporting could take place with the lights out, freeing up the time the finance function needs to provide what the rest of the business really needs to work collaboratively across functions to drive greater profitability?

Where FP&A is falling short

We’ve previously shared a benchmarking report from PWC that identified common shortfalls in FP&A capability. The fundamental processes take too long due to:

  • Multiple data sets across multiple systems. Nearly twice as much time ends up spent on gathering data as analysis.
  • A reliance on manual intervention through manipulation of spreadsheets.
  • Multiple consolidations leading to outdated information by the time reports have been generated.
  • A lack of standardisation across reporting.

FP&A teams are unable to link operational performance to business strategy in a way that answers senior management’s questions. This is down to:

  • A lack of real-time analysis, with a reliance on historic data which overlooks links with current conditions in the market.
  • Siloed reports which don’t form a cohesive and integrated view. There is no single version of the truth.
  • Over-reliance on Excel leading to limited capability for what-if and predictive analysis.

How can technology bridge the gap?

What solutions can technology bring to release the finance team to work with the rest of the business? It’s all about moving organisations further along the scale of the maturity model from descriptive and diagnostic analytics activities towards those which are predictive and prescriptive. Across the four key areas of FP&A activity – modelling, reporting, analytics and data planning – technology holds the key to developing processes and releasing the team to focus on the value-add work called for by the rest of the business.

With a technology solution like Planning Analytics:

  • Modelling shifts from an isolated activity carried out by the finance function to become networked and connected.
  • Reporting no longer requires manual intervention and is instead automated.
  • Analytics moves past the descriptive and diagnostic stages towards predictive and prescriptive insight.
  • Data planning is expanded from siloed information to a single version of the truth based on solid foundations of up-to-date data.

For the four out of five businesses taking too long to tackle problems thanks to spending 77% of their time gathering data and administering the FP&A process, Planning Analytics holds the answers. With modelling and reporting taking care of themselves, your FP&A team will finally be able to dedicate more time to explaining insights to senior management, driving more profitable decision making.

If you’re ready to strengthen your FP&A activities and progress to a more secure stage in the maturity model, get in touch today to discover how simple this evolution can be.

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

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