The best FP&A teams don’t operate in isolated siloes of the finance function.

They are strategic business partners driving profitable decision making. Here’s how they manage it:


Focusing on value-adding, productive activities. The best-in-class FP&A teams spend less than a fifth of their time (19%) on low value activities compared to an average of 42%. These tasks include manual processes of gathering and checking data and fixing inevitable errors within spreadsheets.

Without these distractions, the team can generate valuable insights and partner with the business to capitalise on opportunities.

Generating action-oriented insight

In fact, the best teams are allocating more than three times as much of their time resource to driving insight generation and action. Whereas on average, only 26% of time is focused on providing insight to the organisation, the superior FP&A teams dedicate 80% of their time to these goals.

Data led

Having automated much of the information gathering and consolidation process, the organisations with best-in-class FP&A teams use the resulting more reliable data for far more of their decision making; almost 50% more than the average business, with 80% vs 56% of decisions being based on data.

Access to real-time business performance data

The data these decisions are based on is also more up to date for the best FP&A teams. They are almost three times more likely to provide their C-suite with real-time business performance data. Leading organisations have access to this superior MI 90% of the time, compared to an average of 35%.

Stronger forecasting

Ultimately, the top FP&A teams are more productive, faster and produce more accurate forecasts. Rather than taking the average eight days to generate a 38% accurate projection, these teams provide forecasts that are 63% accurate in only two days.

What’s the key?


Whereas 60% of leading businesses have integrated their FP&A technology with their operational systems, only 17% of the rest have. Failure to adopt technology is holding back the other FP&A teams.

Without integrated systems, users spend too much time searching, gathering, consolidating and manipulating data. They are often required to wait for scheduled ‘data dumps’ which compromises their ability to provide insights in real time.

Technological alignment and automation eliminate the need to copy data and duplicate effort. This not only saves time but also removes errors that creep in undetected in the process of managing multiple spreadsheets.

The ability to rely on a single version of the truth, generated automatically from consistent data sources, is the foundation for the success of best-in-class FP&A teams. It allows them to increase their speed and productivity, deliver access to up-to-date business performance data and generate action-oriented insights to drive profitable decision-making.

Reaching a point where your FP&A activity is proactive, insight-driven and integrated across your wider business is more accessible than you might realise. It doesn’t take an enterprise solution to equip your team with the tools required to reach this position – the foundations of a strong system for your FP&A activities can be achieved within the capability of Planning Analytics on Demand.

If your team is ready to join the top FP&A functions, get in touch today to discover exactly how valuable Planning Analytics could be to you.

(The source of all statistics used in this piece is the FP&A Trends Survey 2020.)

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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