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A day in the life of an FP&A analyst and the challenges they face

Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) analysts are constantly balancing multiple priorities with limited time while trying to provide the most accurate forecasts to stakeholders, including senior management.

 But all too often, they spend too much of their day gathering data and not enough on analysis.

Limited communication and collaboration with stakeholders can lead to frustration and misalignment, and an over-reliance on applications like Excel spreadsheets or Google Sheets saps productivity. 

Modern FP&A technology can, however, streamline the day-to-day grind of corporate financial planning and analysis analysts and improve overall efficiency. And according to recent BPM Partners research, ‘a unified financial planning and analysis software platform conservatively saves 2.5 hours every month in employee time on average.’

In this blog, we'll explore how leveraging these tools can help analysts work smarter, not harder.

Too much time spent on data gathering and not enough on analysis

One of the primary responsibilities of an FP&A analyst is to gather and analyze financial data to help the organization make informed decisions. However, this can be challenging if the data is scattered across multiple sources or if the data is incomplete or inaccurate.

Automated data extraction and integration tools save time and minimize errors. Near real-time data, visualization and reporting provide quick access to critical metrics. With financial planning and analysis technology, data collection and processing can be automated, allowing more time to focus on analysis, insights, and recommendations. 

This leads to better decision-making and more accurate forecasts despite the challenges presented by navigating the unpredictable business environment and disparate data sources.

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Confidence in forecasting accuracy due to data integrity issues

Financial planning and analysis analysts are often tasked with creating financial forecasts for the organization. However, forecasting accuracy can be challenging due to the unpredictable nature of the business environment, changing market conditions, unexpected events, and disparate amounts of data being stored in different systems.

Cloud based modern FP&A technology has dramatically improved forecasting accuracy, allowing analysts to use advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms to identify trends and consider external factors. 

More reliable scenario analysis through interactive tools leads to informed decision-making and pivot strategies is one example, which can result in improved overall performance and growth for businesses.

Limited communication and collaboration with stakeholders

FP&A analysts need to work closely with various stakeholders within the organization, including finance, accounting, HR, marketing, sales, project, and business teams. 

Effective communication and collaboration can be challenging, especially if there are differences in terminology, goals, or expectations, but often, these people are too busy to respond to requests for data or, indeed, may hold different versions of the ‘truth.’

Leveraging FP&A technology can enhance communication and collaboration with stakeholders for analysts. Advanced technology solutions offer multiple collaboration tools, including dashboards and data visualizations, all in one single location. Real-time updates and alerts enhance communication between stakeholders and analysts, using configurable system workflows.

Improved collaboration enhances decision-making and ultimately improves business performance, as well as driving enhanced visibility and ownership of data.

Over-reliance on Excel – not keeping up with technology

The world of finance and accounting is constantly evolving, and new technologies are emerging all the time, such as Unit4 FP&A. Financial planning and analysis analysts need to stay up to date with the latest tools and techniques to ensure that they are providing the best possible insights and recommendations to their organization. 

Relying on Excel spreadsheets can mean a higher likelihood of errors and reduced collaboration. Excel, a personal productivity tool that was first introduced by Microsoft back in 1985, falls short in efficiency and accuracy for financial planning and analysis. 

Modern financial planning and analysis technology offers automation, collaboration, insights and recommendations, and data management capabilities that streamline processes and provide accurate data, all within one single source of truth, especially when integrated with an ERP system. 

Using these tools allows analysts to invest more time in analyzing data and making accurate forecasts and business decisions. While Excel may still be useful for basic modeling, leveraging better technology can significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the corporate financial analysis process.

Managing multiple priorities with limited time

Financial planning and analysis analysts often have to juggle multiple priorities and competing demands, such as meeting reporting deadlines, preparing budgets and forecasts, and responding to ad hoc requests from senior management. This can be challenging, especially if resources are limited, and there are tight timelines to meet, with the continued need to re-forecast or model multiple scenarios. 

FP&A analysts know better than anyone that there is always more to do than time available. Balancing multiple priorities can be overwhelming and can leave them feeling stretched thin. FP&A technology can help them manage multiple priorities efficiently. 

It automates data collection, integrates systems, standardizes processes, enhances collaboration, and provides real-time insights. With its help, they can focus on higher-level analysis and work towards shared goals more efficiently.

It is important for FP&A analysts to have the right technology at their disposal to streamline their workflow and improve their efficiency. Unfortunately, many financial planning and analysis teams still rely on outdated systems and tools, which can slow down their processes and make it challenging to keep up with the demands of their job. 

This is why it's crucial for organizations to invest in advanced FP&A technology that can help their teams stay on top of their workload and drive better insights from their data.

Of course, financial planning and analysis analysts have access to many different types of technology, and the best solution will depend on the organization's specific needs. However, investing in better technology helps FP&A teams work more efficiently and effectively and ultimately drives better business outcomes. 

So, if you haven't already, it's time to start exploring the various ERP and FP&A software solutions available on the market today.

How Unit4 can help your financial analysts work smarter

Unit4 FP&A is a sophisticated financial planning platform that helps unify an organization, freeing up time for high-value analysis. Imagine a tool with instant and accurate access to actual data and historical plans, as well as the capability to easily create new scenarios by pulling drivers to test different outcomes without maintaining a myriad of spreadsheets for each case. 

Imagine being able to easily share and clearly communicate the latest projections and capture opinions across the organization that reflect what is happening in the business using accurate data.

FP&A technology offers a significant opportunity to improve efficiency and manage multiple priorities more effectively. By automating tedious tasks, standardizing processes, enhancing collaboration, and offering real-time insights, FP&A technology can help you make the most of your time, drive business success, and ultimately make better, more informed decisions.

You can check out our suite of solutions here.

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