Traditionally, finance teams have always worked on-premises, either due to security risks or limited access to data. But that was in a world before COVID-19. Now, the future of finance is looking remote—61% of financial services CFOs say “they plan to make remote work permanent for roles that allow it.”
As your finance teams look toward a future of continued uncertainty, organizations face unique difficulties, from planning and process risks to cybersecurity threats. These are unique challenges, and the principles of risk management of the past and spreadsheet planning no longer suffice. Spreadsheet-based planning isn’t cut out to mitigate these risks.
But remote work isn’t a death sentence for finance teams. Adopting new principles of risk management and financial planning and analysis (FP&A) technology that supports them can keep your teams afloat—and thriving—in a virtual environment.
Continuous Planning is Key to Staying Agile in a Bumpy Market
Traditional annual planning quickly crumbles in turbulent times. But, Continuous Planning can help finance teams meet rapid market fluctuations at the velocity at which they happen and make confident business decisions.
Although Continuous Planning is an older concept, it’s not going away anytime soon. COVID-19 showed us that it’s an essential principle of risk management that helps during uncertain times. And the need for immediate, granular data isn’t limited to current times, considering the rapid shifts in the market.
“There are trends that were happening before COVID that are now happening faster. In many of these cases, they’re never going back,” says Jeff Epstein, former CFO of Oracle and DoubleClick and currently an operating partner of Bessemer Venture Partners.
Finance teams need to “nowcast,” which involves conducting short-term forecasting with very recent data.
With this in mind, finance teams need to “nowcast,” which involves conducting short-term forecasting with very recent data.
“Being able to reforecast quickly and efficiently in the next 12 months is going to be hugely helpful for us as we pivot and redirect the ship with COVID-19,″ says Luiz Martinez Luna, Senior Analyst at Bose Corporation and a Planful customer.
A robust FP&A platform like Planful can automate many repetitive data entries. The result? Eliminate human errors and cut the budgeting and forecasting time by more than half. In other words, you’ll spend less time sorting through data and more time on analysis with up-to-date data for agile, confident Continuous Planning.
Elgin Equipment Group is a manufacturing company that’s been around for more than 150 years. Understandably, the organization has evolved quite a bit since its beginning, but its financial planning and analysis practices involved slow turnarounds, which is time wasted.
Planful is saving our four plant controllers at least a half-day each month, and saving our corporate controller as much as a week every month.
But since switching to Planful, Elgin added speed and agility to its finance processes. “Our forecasts and budgets go pretty darn smoothly now,” said Mike Petrauskas, Manager of Financial Planning and Analysis at Elgin. “We spend less time tying out numbers and more time on analysis. Planful is saving our four plant controllers at least a half-day each month, and saving our corporate controller as much as a week every month.”
Moving Away From Excel is Vital for Security and Operational Efficiency
The reality is Excel doesn’t meet the security or efficiency needs of remote working. Even during normal times, errors are common in Excel and doesn’t support easy or accurate data collection and aggregation, resulting in the inefficient use of finance teams’ time.
Using older tools for modern data sets has its limitations. One example of this happened in 2020, when thousands of COVID-19 test results were lost due to the use of an older, less capable file format.
Yet, most organizations still rely on spreadsheets for their extended planning and analysis (XP&A). Companies should urgently migrate to a cloud-based, secure FP&A platform to increase security and mitigate data loss.
Why do we recommend a cloud-based FP&A platform? Purely on-premise software is known for its data breaches: Companies like JPMorgan, Target, and Sony used on-premise data centers and have had significant data breaches in recent years.
“The cloud could be your best security bet.”
But, a cloud-based FP&A platform can decrease many security concerns. As TechCrunch’s Ron Miller says, “the cloud could be your best security bet.”
When you look at industry trends, finance was already moving to the cloud, but COVID-19 has accelerated the need to move away from Excel—according to Deloitte, “62% of CFOs expect core IT systems to be more cloud-based a year from now.”
Bickford’s Group Australia is a group of companies with business lines in multiple industries that recently joined the wave of companies moving their data to the cloud. They used Planful’s cloud-based platform to improve efficiency in the company’s financial planning and analysis (FP&A). And Planful puts security at the forefront. You don’t have to worry about having 24/7 security guarding your datacenters or having white hat hackers testing your system’s defenses anymore.
“Who would’ve known that COVID was going to happen? But we’re now in a position where we can start to think about what if other things happened that impacted parts of the business? It makes it easier for us to adapt to those changes,” says Ashlee-Louise George, Project Accountant at Bickford’s Group.
Moreover, unlike other FP&A platforms out there, Planful allows you to collaborate with teams by assigning responsibilities and communicating asynchronously, a boon for remote teams. With data integration, you can view all the information from various business units from a single source of truth, ensuring data quality and consistency.
Since switching to Planful, Bickford’s Group Australia could easily plan for multiple scenarios to react to COVID-19 and future disruptions.
Adapt Principles of Risk Management to Suit Your Organizational Needs
While conventional principles of risk management may no longer hold in the current economy, they’ll only continue to change over time. As the market and businesses evolve, so should your risk management practices—have your finger on the market’s pulse and keep up with the industry’s best practices to pivot quickly during crises.
Planful can support your organization’s financial planning and analysis during COVID-19 and beyond. Contact us to book a demo.