To a large extent, the success of an organization is determined by the degree of collaboration between the different departments across the enterprise. A collaborative business planning process synchronizes data from various sources from both within and outside the organization. The intent is to streamline the progression of turning data into information, information into knowledge, and knowledge into better-informed, smarter business decisions when it comes to planning, budgeting, and forecasting.
One of the challenges I often witness working with clients and partners around the world is that when FP&A isn’t viewed as a business partner and a full and integral part of the team, it is a battle to get buy-in even from the people we are trying to help. One of the paths to success I have seen and strongly advocate is to get everyone else invested in the numbers. The goal is for the “numbers” to be viewed as “our numbers” not “FP&A’s numbers.”
Collaboration is a two-way street. We want to get everyone on the same team. Data collaboration is a continuous effort to ensure that everyone is moving in the direction derived from the overall strategy of the organization. To touch again on the crewing example from an earlier article, we want everyone rowing in the same direction at the same cadence, with the same force, to shoot right across the water.
When our business partners invest in this collaboration, they are rewarded with KPIs and dashboards that help them make those better decisions faster. Groups that don’t operate collaboratively end up with data and maybe information, but rarely with the insights and foresight needed to thrive in today’s ultra-competitive and highly volatile business environment. At the end of the day, if we don’t make it easy for all the stakeholders to take ownership, the result is disappointing outcomes.
We are fortunate to be living in a time where the technology available is truly transforming the way planning, forecasting, and budgeting can be accomplished. Gone are the days of multiple e-mailed copies of spreadsheets leading to confusion and error. No more red flags popping up about who has access to the spreadsheets and who has the ability to enter data.
For the first time in 30-plus years of complaining about spending 70% to 80% of our time and resources on verification and reconciliation of the numbers, we are actually at a point where we can flip that paradigm on its head. Now, we can spend time and resources on what the numbers mean rather than what the numbers are.
Collaborative business planning starts with having the entire team working with a single, trusted set of numbers and building on a foundation of accurate, up-to-date data. When we trust the numbers, we can focus on more value-added activities to support our business partners. When our partners take more ownership of the data, we all win.
When we have a single version of the truth and truly get all the other stakeholders engaged, we will actually be moving towards collaborative business planning that is mutual, comprehensive, and continuous.
We will be hosting a number of events all over the world, where we will be discussing and diving deeper into these critical issues and topics.
In addition to our Global FP&A Roundtable series, we hope to see you at Financials2018 EMEA in Prague, October 16–18 and at the Financial Excellence Forum in New York City.
Brian is Founder and Principal at Kalish Consulting. He is Former Executive Director – Global FP&A Practice at AFP. He has over 20 years of experience in Finance, FP&A, Treasury and Investor Relations. He previously held a number of treasury and finance positions with the FHLB, Washington Mutual/JP Morgan, NRUCFC, Fifth Third and Fannie Mae. He has spoken all over the world to audiences both large and small hosting FP&A Roundtable meetings in North America, Europe, Asia and soon South America. Brian attended Georgia Tech, in Atlanta, GA for his undergraduate studies in Business and the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech for his graduate work. In 2014, Brian was awarded the Global Certified Corporate FP&A Professional designation.