Generation CFO is a broad church and includes everyone in the Finance function and under the CFO remit.

Here we look at one Finance team that is ripe for Analytics transformation, and what it means to the FP&A skill set 2020!

Technology is changing the way we work and causing disruption to industries and professions. This also go for FP&A professionals who’ve seen a wide range of software been made available to them in the past decade. They’re even looking at the possibility of fully automated forecasting that is more accurate than what they could ever produce themselves.

However, it begs the question of how to respond to the changes. Should FP&A professionals become techies that know all about tech, how to create it, and how to implement in the FP&A department? 

Here’s how to deal with tech 

We know that being great at everything is an almost impossible task hence it doesn’t seem like a smart idea that all FP&A professionals should become techies. This would only hold true if robots could do all the work in FP&A. Then essentially the only work left would be to build and monitor the robots which techies would likely do well.

However, we don’t see that as a realistic scenario anytime soon. In fact, we’d argue that it’s much better for FP&A professionals to become techknows rather than techies. Let’s explain what we mean with that. 

  1. First, we must understand what’s the end goal of FP&A and learn what it takes to realize this. Having defined the purpose of FP&A as “to drive the right strategic choices in the company” it would seem like a good starting point for FP&A to change the mindset to a more entrepreneurial/innovative one. That’s what’s going to drive value creation in the future.
  2. That said, technology would play a part in realizing this vision too, hence, it’s important that FP&A professionals understand the skills and resource gaps that exist in the company overall and in the FP&A department. Otherwise, you’ll fail on the HOW of tech because you won’t be able to implement solutions that work.
  3. Now it’s all about understanding the WHAT. What can automation do? What can analytics do? What can apps do? What role do all these play in making the right strategic choices? Likely you’ll come up with many uses of these technologies and get excited about how they can help you realize your vision and strategy.
  4. Once you understand the WHAT it’s time to get started, however, not being techies, you also need to know whom to turn to for implementation. It’s possible that you’ll have some techies in your company either in IT, BI & Analytics, or even within the FP&A department. That’s likely for larger companies and those resources you should draw on. If you don’t have these available, then look around for vendors that have this specialist knowledge and can help you with implementation.

Techknows know the WHAT of tech and they know who the real experts are to turn to. Sure, they might be able to build their own dashboards in Power BI, Tableau or the like but they do not need to know the HOW of implementation or coding. 

Techknows free up time for work that matters 

In simple terms techknows will use tech to enable them to become better business partners. That’s because they can spend more time on sharing insights with their stakeholders through which they influence their decisions.

Techies have a much harder time doing that as it’s not their core competence. At least most IT professionals would struggle with this and same with data scientists or even BI & Analytics people. And that’s okay because it’s all about focusing on your core competences rather than having to be a jack of all trades.

It’s not to say that tech doesn’t matter but rather that tech is simply an enabler to achieve better business decisions. Until robots can fully rule the world and make optimal decisions all the time then humans are still the deciding factor in decision-making. Hence, influencing decisions is the work that really matters for FP&A professionals – not doing coding or being an expert on all things tech.

So we say – become a techknow – and start using tech to your advantage while becoming a master at influencing decisions. That’s how FP&A professionals win in the future!

This article is co-written by Christopher Argent and Anders Liu-Lindberg