We’re more than half-way through 2020, and 2021 is starting to come into focus for FP&A. Of course, much uncertainty remains, but that doesn’t mean we can put off planning. As a result, teams are beginning to manage that uncertainty by building more flexible plans and incorporating more agile business processes, and even treating the impact of remote teams as a fact of life to leverage, not work around. FP&A conversations are also beginning to focus less on the impact of the pandemic and more on dealing with it as we look towards the future.
Here are a few expert opinions we’ve found helpful in the past week, and we hope you do, too.
What the Experts are Saying on FP&A
The CFO at Temple University, a Planful customer, talks about the impact COVID-19 is having on institutions across the country, especially as students look for refunds or take “gap years” to avoid undue risks. But it could be pushing schools to find more flexible ways to deliver their services. “I do think you will see universities becoming more efficient, hopefully, more affordable. And I do think there will be more of a shift to an online medium.”
WSJ / Deloitte: Annual Planning Methods to Navigate the Year Ahead
As FP&A teams struggled with static 2020 plans earlier this year, many found their once-a-year planning process to be woefully inadequate for a pandemic response. So as 2021 planning gets underway, teams are evolving their entire approach. “Organizations face a steadily rising number of additional challenges, including the demand for constant scenario development and modeling; lack of confidence in future projections; the urgent need for decisions about courses of action; an unclear decision-making framework, particularly around capital allocation; and time-and-resource-consuming manual iteration.”
Forbes: How AI Can Help In A Recession
The pandemic stressed Finance teams as they worked to quickly revise forecasts, models, plans, and more, all in real-time. Those with FP&A automation tools were able to remove much of the manual effort and spend more time on strategy, but advanced Artificial Intelligence technologies can further help companies reduce costs, optimize decisions, and even find new revenue opportunities. “AI is more important and more transformative than any other type of technology because it can improve every day, all by itself.”
Economic pessimism in early 2020 pushed many CFOs to increase their short-term investments to create a “liquidity buffer. Popular “safe and liquid investment vehicles” included bank deposits, money market funds, and Treasury securities. But the positive result was that, at least as of March, “many of the companies in the survey seemed well-positioned to ride out an economic downturn.”
The crisis and ensuing chaos means mistakes are more than likely for every organization. Add in the risks of remote work, focus on survival, and bypassed safeguards, and FP&A should be extra careful to ensure compliance and oversight. “‘Many folks who are integral to the control structure are no longer working together or on an established, informal communication system in which groups of people who work together are sitting together.’”
Campaign US: CMO & CFO: How to be intentional friends
As CFOs take on more strategic responsibility, CMOs become a partner in setting corporate direction. These tips are aimed at CMOs, but the article provides a window into the important insights Marketing brings to the CFO’s perspective. “The expansion of the CFO position has created new alignments in the roles of marketing and finance with significant opportunities for collaboration and alliance. Marketers are uniquely positioned to help finance better contextualize the market as a whole and the customer in particular.”
Stay Tuned for More Useful FP&A Content
We’ll be continuing this weekly update with links related to how FP&A and CFO’s are leading their organizations through the continuing recovery. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions, please engage with us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.