FP&A within your organisation has to be capable of adaptation.

There are multiple driving forces behind the need for change but not least of these are the potentially disruptive impacts of external, technological and social change. To meet these challenges, your finance function needs to transform.

We talk regularly about the benefits of automation, freeing up your finance function and allowing them to work collaboratively with the rest of the business to drive greater profitability. A report released by PwC provides the numbers to support our argument.

In the report, PwC explore how the highest-performing finance functions are achieving their results. The picture is overwhelmingly one of a shift away from number crunching and towards driving performance as business partners.

The key areas for change are categorised as People, Process and Performance.


5 of 6 steps to improve finance effectiveness are about people

Your finance team are completely wasted if all they are spending their time on is gathering data. You will never be able to maximise the talented resource you have within this team without improving your technology and automating processes in order to free up their time.

Once this step is in place, there is capacity for change and upskilling, allowing for value-added analysis. The people providing you with information will have a chance to gain full understanding of the story behind the numbers and how that impacts on the wider business and can therefore provide valuable insight.


To give you a better idea of the time savings possible through automation, consider this: 40% of the time your finance function spends on delivering management reporting could be automated. The extremely valuable activities of finance strategy and planning however, must be carried out in person.

Cutting the time wasted around consolidation and close allows your staff to create huge opportunity for the business; they will have the chance to explore the final numbers and drive decisions based on these rather than just dealing with one billion pain points.

Experience with our own clients has shown us just how valuable it can be when the finance function is able to shift away from being bogged down in thousands of spreadsheets towards a single version of the truth where data gathering is fully automated. We have shared some experiences from Robertson Group in previous posts.


It makes sense that your finance team should be focused on financial goals – increasing future profits, growth into new markets, protecting against new entrants and increasing the sustainability of earnings.

Understanding the scenarios which are likely to impact any of these goals requires the ability to model. You need to be able to ask ‘what if’ and then follow that line of questioning wherever it leads. To do this, your finance function have to be working closely as collaborative partners with the rest of the business and providing dynamic data models which enable this creative hypothesising.

The value lies in identifying possible new futures that could give your business an edge and testing those scenarios with the people who can act on them.

PwC’s research shows that in top performance finance functions, 75% of business analysts’ time is spent on developing insight. These teams aren’t wasting time getting the data together, they’re studying the story it tells. Can the same be said within your business?

Are you ready for change?

Technology is a vital enabler. Removing the pain created by an entirely spreadsheet-based system creates opportunity and drives change.

Taking the first steps to delivering change is easier when you work with partners who understand your pain points, have experience of the people, know how to develop the process and have experienced this shift before. If you’re ready to make the change, we’re here to help with every step of the journey.

Read the full PwC report.

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.


Working with Spitfire Analytics has resulted in the Finance Team becoming an integral part of the business. We are now able to provide analysis and strategic advice on the future direction of the business, rather than spending our time poring over endless spreadsheets.

- Lee Boyle, Finance Director (Engineering), NG Bailey

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