From artificial intelligence to automation, the finance department is seeing amazing gains from new technology.
While we have discussed many of the advances experienced by the finance department and have found that even in the wake of these advances that most financial professionals’ job prospects will remain safe, finance needs to ride the wave of advancing technology and leverage it for job growth. One of these tools is that of intelligent financial planning and analysis, a platform designed to provide information to users when and where they need it, increasing accuracy, decision-making, and collaboration.
Coined as iFP&A by Digitalist Magazine, we would today like to explore the role of this platform in informing budgeting and planning decisions throughout the organization.
Understanding Intelligent Financial Planning and Analysis
While the practice of financial planning and analysis is straightforward—the process of establishing a budget based on information about expenses and income—anyone who has had experience running a budgeting session understands that there are hundreds of moving parts that could affect the way the budgeting process works. Balancing assets, liabilities, and dozens of other metrics while planning can turn a seemingly straightforward process into a headache—especially when non-financial contributors get involved.
Enter iFP&A, a smarter way to leverage current financials to make better decisions through automation, acceleration, and alignment. These three factors are proven to allow organizations to access information instantly, continuously collaborate, and spearhead innovation.
Three Benefits of Intelligent Financial Planning and Analysis
As organizations work to improve their processes, many have turned to cloud technologies like Host Analytics to make smarter decisions—no matter how complex or fast growing the organization is.
In today’s fast-paced business environment, decisions need to be made quickly. Too often, these decisions get held up in analysis, resulting in missed opportunities. Today’s finance department needs to be able to answer questions about the future—today. Decisions can’t be made after the fact, and per Digitalist, “the value finance needs to provide must be live, and that is only possible with instant access to information.”
To make this happen, an iFP&A solution needs go beyond the basics to enable collaboration, provide advanced, ready-to-use visualizations and analysis, and provide finance professionals with deep insight into the numbers, giving them the ability to analyze, plan, predict, and report in one unified environment.
Beyond this, an effective iFP&A solution needs to help finance leaders think beyond the finance department—giving them the power to work with business leaders to achieve organizational goals. Often, this is easier said than done. Business leaders aren’t paid to analyze charts and graphs, and many solutions aren’t tailored to help them understand the numbers due to a steep learning curve or lack of business user-focused functionality. To address this, Host Analytics recently introduced MyPlan, the first product designed specifically for budget owners, allowing finance to fully engage and collaborate with them in the planning, budgeting, and forecasting process.
Finance departments don’t act in a vacuum, and while they often control how the money moves, many decisions should be made with the input of additional departments. This is one of the key selling points for advanced iFP&A offerings, which allow you to extend your planning and analysis to all departments. For example, marketing can track program spend, IT can forecast equipment purchases and depreciation, and sales can forecast deals.
While effective cross-departmental planning may be feasible, it would ultimately result in endless email chains, meetings, and constant editing that would end with more cross-department disdain than collaboration. With an iFP&A solution, you can discuss issues on the fly, whether it concerns a report, an allocation method, or a budget driver.
While it may not be prudent to immediately jump on “the next big thing,” certain trends have more weight than others, and the rise of machine learning and augmented intelligence are two trends that Gartner believes are here to stay. iFP&A automates the mundane, accelerates business decisions, and aligns the enterprise, giving everyone the ability to analyze data like never thought possible—without the data science education. Everyone is working to the best of their abilities, resources are being used effectively, and the organization is moving in the right direction—together.
Intelligent Financial Planning and Analysis in the Cloud
Modern enterprises need modern planning solutions. To make this happen, more and more organizations than ever have turned to Host Analytics to improve collaboration, make smarter decisions, and leverage resources more effectively.
As you look to improve the effectiveness of the finance department and the organization as a whole, we invite you to download our recent guide, Finance’s EPM Playbook: Leveraging World Class Enterprise Performance Management, designed to introduce finance to EPM, as well as the six key components of a winning playbook. We also invite you to learn more about Host Analytics here.