Lifehacks are supposed to be tips or tricks that improve our ability to perform day-to-day tasks. While most lifehacks are undoubtedly simple, they aren’t always incredibly clever. Some will save you a bit of time or help you in a pinch (did you know you can use frozen grapes to chill your wine?), but far too many lifehacks are stop-gap measures and not long-term solutions.
That changes now with this list of FP&A lifehacks — pulled together with input from Richard B. Pototsky, president Miami-CFO. Richard is a seasoned pro at FP&A who has been helping clients achieve greater growth and profitability for over 25 years.
FP&A Lifehack #1: Position Yourself for Greatness
The Finance department is ready to take on a more significant role in the organization. Finance leaders should not settle for being a back-office function but part of the essential team leading the company to bigger and better things — and profits.
“Yesterday’s financial team were number-crunchers who operated behind the scenes; today’s drive the direction and success of a company,” says Richard.
But to help drive the direction of the company, you need to be present in strategic meetings and armed with valuable insights — not spending all your time with spreadsheets and a calculator. By modernizing the repetitive, manual processes that bog you down, you can have all the answers, even before they ask the questions.
FP&A Lifehack #2: Leverage Technology
“FP&A has been a key component of Finance departments for decades, helping them evaluate past and present trends to achieve future goals,” says Richard.
Traditionally the Finance team has been looked at for the numbers, but Richard says, “Technology has created a significant shift in the expectations placed on Finance departments.”
What’s something that can get in the way of meeting — or exceeding —these expectations? Richard says that one potential danger is depending too much on old systems and software.
“Some Finance departments are still using Excel for their duties and uploading their results into FP&A systems. Thankfully, cloud-based FP&A systems are much more efficient and user-friendly,” he says.
“The days of the simple reports and dashboards are gone,” Richard says. In particular, he notes that “Cloud-based applications have significantly improved the efficiency of backward-looking and forward-calculating.”
FP&A Lifehack #3: Modernize Processes
Of course, just having shiny, new systems isn’t enough. So, where should Finance leaders start if they want to shake off the manual processes holding them back? Richard suggests integrating systems and automating processes that:
- Enable more efficient planning and reporting. “Use EPM with advanced planning and reporting functionality to help analyze, understand, report, and forecast,” Richard recommends.
- Keep data current and accurate. “Technology now allows for more details and greater insight in less time. That lets executives anticipate change and respond quicker,” he says.
- Provide real-time data to stakeholders in a way that makes sense to them. Richard notes that cloud-based applications “make it easy to create easy-to-understand dashboards and eliminate the need for ‘drop everything’ fire drills.”
FP&A Lifehack #4: Upskill your Finance Talent
Finding and hiring the best Finance talent is always hard, but it is especially challenging when there is a shortage of FP&A talent.
“FP&A Finance professionals are more than accountants and traditional Finance professionals. They combine strong analytical, business, and communication skills,” Richard says.
As the Finance function becomes more integrated with the other business systems, Richard notes that it can be invaluable to have financial professionals on your team who bridge the gap between numbers and technology. “Recruit people skilled at pairing various tech solutions with financial knowledge,” says Richard.
FP&A Lifehack #5: Spend Wisely
“Technology is fundamentally changing the way we work, especially in Finance,” says Richard. “Investments in financial technology can provide detailed, real-time financial insights in a more efficient manner.”
But with so much FP&A software out there, what should Finance leaders focus on first?
Richard says that organizations that are early in financial technology adoption should focus on software solutions that can help the team:
- Increase responsiveness and anticipate changes
- Improve business continuity
- Automate repetitive financial processes
- Streamline budgeting, forecasting, and financial reporting
- Improve data quality
“These upgrades and investments can provide financial clarity and create opportunities for improved planning and profitability,” he says.
FP&A Lifehack #6: Forecast Change
The last FP&A lifehack from Richard has nothing to do with numbers, dashboards and software. So, what is it? “Embracing change,” says Richard. Uncertainty is the only certainty these days; adaptability and flexibility are key. The right technology can enable these traits, but they’re a matter of mindset as well. It’s important to develop a culture of resilience and openness to change.
FP&A Lifehack #7: Let Us Help
Are you ready to use lifehacks to take the Finance function out of the back-office and into the boardroom? We can help you implement meaningful change to make your day-to-day activities not just easier but provide more business value. The Prophix software solution supports cross-company financial planning and modernizes the repetitive, manual processes that bog you down.