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Posted by Niamh Aughney | 25th October 2022

The future of FP&A is to automate your processes 

Organisations producing data must move away from manual processes and start automating their financial planning and analysis (FP&A). It reduces labour costs and increases the value of the analysis produced.

If you’re working manually with data in your FP&A department, not only can your data modelling be easily manipulated, but it’s also error prone and a waste of resources.

When Accenture surveyed 550 CFOs and finance leaders from companies with over $1 billion in revenue, it revealed that FP&A functions lack the agility to provide the business with the insights they need to manage growing uncertainty.

In particular, FP&A teams spend 85% of their time on tactical and labour-intensive tasks to prepare data and just 15% of their time on generating insights.

Furthermore, 57% of finance executives report that a lack of availability and access to data is keeping their function from achieving real-time, continuous accounting and real-time insights. This can only be achieved by automation.

Here’s some pointers.

Tip 1: Get Buy in

Automation is best presented as a project which will not only benefit those who prepare data, but the wider team. This is because time will be freed up for junior roles to perform more value-added functions with senior staff.

The developing talent in your FP&A function will appreciate being relieved of mundane tasks and relish the opportunity to engage in higher value activities.

And it will make junior roles more interested in their work, and more loyal to the organisation.

Tip 2: Share the benefits

Automation works best when the benefits of it are shared throughout the department. All colleagues should be part of the wider discussion about what should be automated.

Also, automated processes and their outputs should be shared with the wider organisation. 

Processes should not be automated at the whim of one individual – if something is automated, the process should keep running whether or not the individual who set it up is out of the office or not. 

Tip 3: Don’t automate everything

If automating your first couple of processes went well, don’t start rolling out multiple processes at once. 

Make sure that each process actually increases efficiency and is accurate, and then work together to see what process should be next. 

Avoid the temptation to start new automated processes, just because you can.

Tip 4: Retain a human touch

While technology clearly has benefits, it’s important that we utilise our critical thinking and analysis too. 

Automation is not about the outsourcing of all roles to AI but a method of speeding up data gathering for our analysis. While automation is a new tool in our FP&A armoury, it is not a silver bullet which solves everything.

Summary

Automation is proceeding at such a pace that soon certain automated processes will become the norm. In order to keep a competitive edge and retain staff, it’s inevitable that more and more organisations will turn to automation.

If you are looking to transform your FP&A and automate processes, get in touch with ProStrategy via email  [email protected]


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