This is the second in a series of six articles focused on unlocking new business value with finance and analytics. Follow the link at the bottom to explore more content.
Within any organisation today, financial planning and analysis (FP&A) can be a struggle—especially when it comes to management reporting at the highest level. Increasingly, leaders across the C-suite require a complete, accurate, and real-time view of data-driven financial insights—to make quick, informed, and sound decisions.
Whether they are trying to define sales objectives, bolster the supply chain, develop HR strategies, manage business risk, achieve sustainability goals and improve their ecological footprint, or do something else to strengthen their organizations, CXOs across the enterprise need a better view of the finance picture. C-suite leaders also play a key role in shaping that picture—providing the data and essential input that powers the finance function.
The insight imperative
Think of the chief HR officer whose team struggles daily to attract and retain the best talent, and in this context wants to bring together people analytics and finance analytics to plan training programs and address attrition —while also needing to share the latest payroll data and budget requests with Finance. A central platform—a connected platform—becomes essential to doing any C-level job confidently and effectively.
Unfortunately, for some organisations the “two-way street” of financial data and insights can be plagued by traffic jams and institutional gridlock. Spreadsheets, aging systems, cumbersome apps, and manual processes are still common in many companies—and a source of true pain for businesses that want to move faster in a world of constant disruption. In addition to old tools and legacy information bottlenecks, things like talent deficits, M&A activities, and data growth keep making the challenge tougher.
The reality is that many leaders must base decisions on old or incomplete information. Thanks to ongoing digitalisation, they may have a massive amount of data and insights available to them—but it may be in the wrong form or in the wrong place. Or it may be simply wrong. Having the right financial insights at the right time has become a business imperative.
Enabling enterprise evolution
At Deloitte, we have long advocated the concept of the built-to-evolve enterprise—the Kinetic Enterprise™. It’s an organisation that can respond at the speed of disruption, enabled by a clean core, responsive cloud solutions, intelligent technologies, and an inclusive ecosystem of capabilities. In the full vision of the Kinetic Enterprise, such functionality is embedded within each business area and dimension of the organisation. Finance analytics is no exception.
With a Kinetic Enterprise approach to finance analytics, organisations can begin to give C-suite leaders the tools they need for more easily accessing, sharing, understanding, and using data. It’s about more than making finance the analytics engine of the organisation. It’s about providing an end-to-end view of the enterprise and enabling every part of the organisation with finance analytics. And it all begins with understanding the “why” of business needs—before implementing new technologies and processes. It centers on questions such as:
A Kinetic Enterprise approach allows organisations to ask and answer those questions repeatedly, no matter how needs might change—through a nimble, “built to evolve” digital platform rather than rigid, monolithic “built to last” systems. For businesses that rely on SAP solutions, that journey often involves SAP S/4HANA as a clean core ERP, including SAP Central Finance functionality—as well as SAP analytics solutions powered by SAP HANA Enterprise Edition, SAP Analytics Cloud, and, when appropriate, additional third-party analytics platforms and solutions.
Such an approach can allow you to pivot and innovate rapidly, adding or removing capabilities as needed. But it also can help you ensure that financially relevant data is accurate—that data can flow easily into and out of a central solution, powered by all parts of the C-suite and benefiting all leaders of the C-suite.
Planning for change
Adopting an FP&A posture that transforms management reporting can unlock significant business value across the enterprise. But the path forward is not always easy or obvious. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you embark on the journey.
Begin with the end in mind. Create a vision for what finance analytics looks like from each CXO’s perspective. Outline specific benefits you can achieve by becoming an insight-driven organization. Then develop a roadmap that includes clear goals and KPIs—and stick to it. To do that, Deloitte advocates an “analytics first” approach that can prioritizing early deployment of analytics to achieve key goals, process improvements, platform modernisation, and bottom-line business value.
Take a thorough assessment of where your organisation stands. Are all the components of the insight-driven organisation in place? What kind of finance and analytics talent do you have? What does your data, process, and technology landscape look like? Do you have the governance and guardrails for executing a strategy effectively?
Get buy-in from leaders. Make the business case to decision-makers at the top—and across the organisation. If leadership is not on completely on board with your vision and your strategy, the road ahead will be rough.
Dedicate a full-time team to driving change. Transformation at the intersection of finance, analytics, and each CXO function will bring massive complexity and needs. Ensure you have the appropriate talent—and the appropriate bandwidth—devoted to change.
Don’t forget the machines. Invest in intelligent innovations such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. Such tools can help accelerate transformation dramatically. One prime example: a Kinetic Finance Startup solution that can leverage machine intelligence and cloud to rapidly move your existing financial data and reporting landscape into a new one, aligned with SAP Central Finance.
In search of more insights
Finance analytics will continue to be a hot topic—one that comes with seemingly endless questions and challenges for the C-suite. You don’t have to address them all at once or even all by yourself. Continue building your knowledge and insights, working to see the bigger picture and to understand the greater possibilities that come with a financial analytics transformation. We’ll help you expand your view of the landscape in our next blog post—with a closer look at financial planning solutions and capabilities and how you can use them to drive a competitive advantage.