7 Features Every Successful FP&A Team Must Have

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WorkdayA single system for finance, HR, and planning.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Building an FP&A team for your organization is the key to success in today’s competitive market. Here are seven features every team needs.

Article 5 Minutes
7 Features Every Successful FP&A Team Must Have

Every business has some sort of financial planning and analysis (FP&A) process in place, even if these functions are carried out by a smaller accounting team.

However, those organizations that have a talented and dedicated FP&A team in place are more likely to succeed in todays competitive market. This is because FP&A teams are able to leverage a common set of activities to provide forward-thinking, mature analyses, and real-time insights that can truly help to drive businesses forward. The four activities in question are:

  • Planning and budgeting
  • Integrated financial planning
  • Management and performance reporting
  • Forecasting and modeling

Using these four practices, FP&A teams have made it possible to leave traditional, outdated accounting and budgeting systems behind, and transformed the role into a forward-thinking function that leads to better decision-making across the business.

Therefore, building a strong FP&A team is essential to the success of both your finance functions and the organization as a whole. Technology such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and specialized finance software make these functions possible. However, there are certain other features that every effective FP&A team needs.

1. A strong analytical skill set

There is no substitute for hiring the right people, and at the heart of every FP&A department is a team that is equipped with the right analytical skills and experience, which is why finding those with the right skill set is crucial.

There are certain skills that will prove invaluable to FP&A experts, including logistical thinking, problem-solving, data analysis, and numerical skills. They must be able to handle large volumes of data and analyze a wide range of information.

It’s also vital that they are tech-savvy and able to use basic financial and data analysis systems, with the ability to adapt and quickly learn to use specialist financial and budgeting tools.

2. Diversity

In order for any team to be successful, diversity must be built into the company culture. It’s therefore it’s important to hire analysts and finance professionals from different backgrounds. Not only does this meant that your team members will have different personalities, backgrounds, and experiences, but they will also have different specialisms, which helps to create a much stronger team.

A diverse team is important for bringing different ideas and ways of thinking to the table, as well as finding more innovative solutions and applying different analytical tactics. It’s also a good idea to hire those with different experience, particularly if they’ve worked in other sectors as well as finance, as these professionals are likely to show a more well-rounded approach to work. 

3. Agility

Financial management platforms and analytics/reporting are just some of the tools that play an important role in solving FP&A challenges and automating otherwise labor-intensive tasks. However, as we become more reliant on data and automation, these tools will evolve, so successful FP&A teams must be agile and able to adapt to these changes as seamlessly as possible.

Not only this, but they must be flexible and able to embrace changes in the market as when it comes to the world of finance, nothing stays still. Technology, market trends, and the economy are continually evolving, and FP&A teams need to be able to keep up.

4. A good reputation for analysis and decision making

FP&A teams play such a crucial role in a business that every other department must be able to trust in their planning, budgeting, and forecasting abilities. If not, people could begin to doubt their analysis, and poor, costly decisions could end up being made.

In order to combat this, FP&A teams must build trust across the business in their planning and analysis capabilities. A large part of achieving this is having each team send all their models and budget requests via the FP&A team. They can then give advice, budgeting support, and guidance to ensure that every department’s goals align with the overall objectives of the organization.

5. Training and development

From the moment you onboard a new hire to your FP&A team, you need to start nurturing their development, but ultimately, it’s important to create a culture that engages all team members at all stages of their careers.

Learning and guidance, coupled with targeted financial one-to-one training and education programs, create a flexible and skilled team that is capable of seamless data analysis, good communication, and collaboration across departments.

6. Active planning strategies

One of the biggest factors that influences the success of an FP&A team is making the shift from static to active planning. Adopting active planning strategies is the key to creating a continual and dynamic process that allows for organizational agility. This in turn allows FP&A professionals to collaborate more seamlessly with other departments across the business.

What’s more, by using data analysis, rolling forecasts, predictive analytics, and scenario-based planning, FP&A teams can fundamentally change the nature of planning and budgeting for the better. Annual planning and budgeting will become a thing of the past, and teams can move forward with more dynamic and flexible strategies, able to adapt to ever-changing markets - something which is crucial in today’s fast-paced, data-driven world.

7. The right financial tools

Finally, no professional can do their job properly and effectively without the right tools, and the same applies to your FP&A team. This means integrating the right technologies and strategies into your business to enable vital finance functions and to deliver value in today’s digital age.

Relying solely on Excel or legacy solutions in no longer an option and to encourage organzational agility and active planning, new systems must be embraced and implemented. For example, cloud-based solutions, financial management platforms, and analytics/reporting tools give FP&A teams the ability to streamline planning and budgeting processes and open the door to an active-planning strategy.

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Workday is a leading provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources. Founded in 2005, Workday delivers financial management, human capital management, planning, and analytics applications designed for the world's largest companies, educational institutions, and government agencies. Organizations ranging from medium-sized businesses to Fortune 50 enterprises have selected Workday.

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