CFO transforming the office of finance

Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting

- 4 min read

Five benefits to CFOs when adopting Board and transforming the Office of Finance

As markets become increasingly complex and competitiveness rises, the capability to flexibly plan, analyze, and adapt in real-time is no longer a nice-to-have but an essential aspect of daily organizational life. Transforming the Office of Finance and updating legacy FP&A activities is all but expected in the modern environment. Businesses must keep up with the demands of both the industry, or industries, they operate in while managing disruptive external influences that drastically change day-to-day operations (look at the global COVID-19 pandemic).  

Not only this, but the role of the CFO itself is undergoing an evolution to add further pressure on the Office of Finance and its chief. Today, the CFO has adapted to become a key strategic business partner (instead of just serving as the head of financial reporting), responsible for delivering a constant flow of accurate financial and operational insights to support quick, effective strategic decisions. 

To maintain this newfound level of import to the business, the CFO must adapt how they (and the finance team) operate through the adoption of a digitally-led transformation.  

Moving beyond spreadsheets and disjointed planning & analytics platforms 

Legacy ways of working, such as the ubiquitous spreadsheet, are often a huge barrier to overcome, and typically hinder strategic planning and analytics processes. With spreadsheets, organizations often find a myriad of issues that restrict FP&A capability (and not just limited to finance but across many departments). Spreadsheets are: 

  • static (requiring manual input) and lacking in depth because unless the data is on that sheet, it is not usable 
  • prone to human error as part of the manual data entry process (and with complex formulas) 
  • inaccurate and difficult to control, especially when introducing new spreadsheets to analyze different data 
  • hard to work on collaboratively in real-time 
  • incredibly hard to link with other data sources 
  • nearly impossible to scale to enterprise-level organizations, where some businesses may be operating with terabytes worth of data in their data repositories 
  • severely lacking in speed when looking to analyze and take away key insights for decision making (the larger the volume of data or the higher the number of spreadsheets, the slower this process gets). 

Spreadsheets are inadequate in dealing with complex planning and analysis. Now really is the time for businesses to stop relying on Excel to run such activities. Significant losses – financial and otherwise – caused by spreadsheet-based tasks are avoidable when organizations adopt a more robust solution. 

In a similar vein (and closely linked to spreadsheets), businesses suffer at the hands of disparate data sources. It is common to see large-scale companies utilizing several different planning solutions across different departments. These may include Business Intelligence (BI) tools, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools, various sales tools and databases, spreadsheets, staff databases and staff management tools, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, a large number of social media and marketing solutions, and many more.  

The critical issue with this approach is that data for each platform resides in its own repository. While some of these tools may talk to each other, there is still no overarching solution that connects these silos to integrate data into one place. 

This integrated methodology, led by a Decision-Making Platform (DMP), is how businesses can deliver transformation across the organization. 

Decision-Making Platforms in the Office of Finance 

DMPs are a powerful asset for CFOs to consider. Pulling together disparate data and unifying BI, planning, and predictive analytics in a single environment, DMPs create a best-practice, fully integrated approach to FP&A and reporting.  

With pressure on CFOs to take on new responsibilities in their role, DMPs help by creating a holistic view of the company that connects strategy, finance, and operations. DMPs also provide the historical and forward-looking information required for sound decision-making. 

With the right Decision-Making Platform, such as the all-in-one Board solution (the only product on the market to offer a unified architecture for planning and analytics), there are significant benefits for CFOs and the Office of Finance (as well as the wider business). 

Benefit #1: Guiding the business, not just finance  

As previously mentioned, one of the primary expectations of the modern-day CFO is to instigate valuable strategic insight from the finance department to guide organizational-level decisions. This requirement goes way beyond being the head of finance, requiring reliable data and planning capability that will feed into the operational aspect of the company. 

Instigating a solid link between financial planning and operational planning is difficult, especially when led by spreadsheets and older, legacy financial systems. To work, the CFO must have: 

  • an integrated approach in place (data can no longer be siloed and manually moved from one system to another) 
  • reliable data (data must be complete, accurate, and wholly transparent) 
  • a robust way to identify and rectify any data inconsistencies (between financial reporting & planning and operational reporting & planning). 

With Board, planning and analytics come together to provide complete visibility across activities. Guiding this is Integrated Business Planning (IBP), an approach to planning that unifies financial and operational data from across the organization. In turn, this delivers one set of reliable data, a single version of the truth – a process considered best practice.  

IBP enables businesses to unify data into one place (removing the different silos of data) and create a fully integrated approach to drive intelligent insight into each activity and measure planning across the organization. 

Benefit #2: A holistic view of the business 

For companies not applying IBP to their processes, there is a notable void regarding holistic visibility across the organization. Without this 360° view of business planning and analytics, CFOs find their leadership role hindered and their team more restrained to the financial function. As a result, the CFO requires more time to examine all business functions (including supply chain, sales and marketing, HR, and IT) to drive organizational strategy.  

The Board Decision-Making Platform delivers a next-generation approach by providing a 360° view of business data. Board empowers CFOs, and their team, with the insights delivered in the platform. Unified planning, analysis, and forecasting in a single environment underpin the vital link between financial and operational planning. Further capability to drill down information with high granularity adds the ability to view data in a new light, providing more accessible, more effective, and faster decision-making from the Office of Finance to the business.  

Benefit #3: Better data, better results 

Providing tools and encouraging self-service reporting is not enough, especially if the data for those tools is incomplete or inaccurate. For CFOs, this is problematic. CFOs need quality data to make quality decisions that align with company goals and drive performance. 

In the Office of Finance, there are regulatory standards to be met for financial statements, complex financial consolidation and closing processes to undertake, and the need to ensure reported data and forecasts to external sources (for example, for stock market valuations) is entirely accurate.  

Incomplete and inaccurate data means decision-making will always be flawed. Board addresses these concerns by offering a reliable and connected solution. By breaking down silos and integrating data into one environment, bridging the gap between operational and financial reporting, CFOs have access to reliable data on top of that critical, holistic view of the company.  

With access to good data via Board, CFOs can analyze, simulate, and plan using correct information that has not been subject to the common pitfalls of a non-integrated approach. This includes manually moving information from system to system, risking data integrity, and the proliferation of makeshift spreadsheets. Planning is, therefore, superior for finance users, equating to more efficient decision-making, powerful self-service analysis capabilities for business users, and automation to reduce laborious tasks. Overall, better data is how the Office of Finance connects the different dots of the company in a single holistic view for better results.  

Benefit #4: Retrospective analysis for effective planning and forecasting 

Historically, it was difficult for technology to connect financial numbers with the underpinning operational activities. BI tools underwent an adaptation period to make decision-making and planning processes more integral in bridging finance and operations. BI tools were also integrated into Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) solutions to add additional BI capabilities to existing processes.  

Unfortunately, these attempts often fell short, never meeting the prerequisite need to unify data and utilize historical information for effective planning and forecasting.  

Board is explicitly designed as a unified platform for business decision-making, giving users a significant advantage over the above concerns. IBP plays a pivotal role in analyzing past and present data to create What-If scenario models so users can see how particular decisions will impact company results. Likewise, as highlighted previously, having all this data in the same architecture means that it is usable in more comprehensive planning, analysis, and assessment (rather than compartmentalized for specific activities). 

Benefit #5: Meeting modern market needs with rapid decisions 

Using the same data in Board’s unified platform avoids the heavy workload incurred with spreadsheet data plastering and data normalization when using different point solutions. It also improves the ease, effectiveness, and timeliness of decision-making. 

The speed taken to come to business decisions is integral to meeting the demands of the modern market. Reaching next-level planning is achievable when establishing a holistic vision across the range, granularity, and flexibility of company performance. This can be a massive benefit for companies with multiple business and global operations lines or undergoing merger and acquisition activities by bringing these disparate elements together and seeing the big picture.  

Board enables this by offering the required flexibility and connectivity to incorporate new operational activities quickly and productively.  

Why Decision-Making Platforms are Key to FP&A Transformation

With increasingly competitive markets and growing volumes of data, business decision-making has become faster and more complex than ever. As a result, CFOs are under pressure to transform their legacy FP&A activities to keep pace with modern planning and analysis requirements. 

Decision-Making Platforms are a powerful weapon in the CFO’s arsenal. Download this eBook to learn more about how CFOs are utilizing them to keep pace with a new era of decision-making requirements. 

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Why Decision-Making Platforms are Key to FP&A Transformation

Unifying BI, planning, and predictive analytics capabilities with a single version of data truth, Decision-Making Platforms are a powerful weapon in the CFO's arsenal. Learn more