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How to develop a more collaborative FP&A team

As the digital revolution standardizes and automates more your FP&A teams activities, it also asks the question: what next?

For forward-thinking financial planning teams, next is the freedom to work more collaboratively with the rest of the business. But why is this important, and how can you make it happen?

Lets take a look.

Why collaborative financial planning teams matter?

Collaboration in the workplace has always mattered. Its how the best work gets done. The problem was always that it was challenging to do across larger organizations. Meaning that often it was easier just to get on with getting things done. 

Thats now changed, technology and tools are now pushing the limits of what you can do. The same tools that free you from low-value tasks also help power collaboration. Letting you work together, talk to one another and share the results all in the same place. And in recent times the need for working this way has only become relevant.

According to Ray Wang at Constellation Research, recent events mean:

Weve accelerated the need for the cloud and digital channels by five years in five weeks to enable collaboration and sustain engagement.”

But just because the tech and tools are collaborative, doesnt mean you are. So how can you be?

How can you make your FP&A team more collaborative?

To be the best finance team possible, you need the following foundations for success.

Know the needs of the business

All the areas of your business may share a common objective, but thats usually all they share. But by knowing each team's needs, you can help them work towards them. And as part of the FP&A team, you are uniquely placed to know what each team needs most.

To get there youll need to understand each others languages and maintain open communications. Also, be ready to have honest conversations that they may not want to hear. Because doing this boosts sustainability, profitability, and long-term value creation. As your knowledge and skills will give these teams greater visibility across the business as a whole. 

Come together

The only way you can create a more collaborative financial planning team is by working together. The problem? For many organizations, artificial or historic barriers stand in the way. That's right, the old siloissue hasnt gone away for most.

The good news is, with modern tools and thinking, there are ways to break through these barriers. But someone needs to lead the way. Thats where you come in. To create a more collaborative team, your first job is simply to start connecting with other teams and building relationships. Before any work is done or planned, you need to open up these channels and bring people together.

Partner with HR to see the big picture

A closer relationship with HR works both ways. For HR, it gives them the data they need to understand the people they support. Alternately, access to more HR insight lets you understand the skills available across the business. Why is this important?

Knowing the bedrock of talent your company is built on lets you know where further collaboration is needed. Meaning if you're working with one team, but realize something is missing from the mix to make this a success, you now know where to find it. This only helps to build more successful and closer teams. 

The best finance teams create a shared vision

As we mentioned above, everyone in the organization already has a shared overall objective by working for the same company. But this isnt the same as a vision or a path to success. So often its left up to your finance team to remind colleagues of what youre trying to achieve.

With the tools and skills your team possesses, you can map out what success looks like and you can work together to get there. Highlighting the different areas different teams will need to contribute and define the best strategy and plans for doing. But more than that, you can also become the central hub for making this happen, bridging the gap and making FP&A central to corporate development.

Work together on project collaboration tools

Using powerful collaborative analytical tools means you can quickly find, discuss and analyze together. Freeing up more time to improve forecast quality, find the reasons behind issues, and do work that eliminates issues and creates opportunities.

And their position as the place collaboration happens means they are ideal for putting strategic plans into action faster and smoother. Letting you communicate and rollout plans across different teams at the same time successfully, while keeping everyone up to date and aligned on results and next steps. 

Remember, its a two-way conversation

We all know communication is key, but for collaboration to work, that has to be more than simply pushing out regular updates. Thankfully with modern tools, two-way conversations are baked in from the ground up. Every aspect of work can be discussed and assessed together. Which together with regular meetings and instant messaging, etc. mean theres no excuse for not keeping the dialogue open.

But remember to go beyond the day-to-day. As much as facts and figures matter so does recognition. Feedback on the wins, mention the good work and highlight examples of teamwork, especially when they lead to great outcomes. This helps boost engagement, energy, and, ultimately, success. Remember collaboration isnt only about the bottom line.

Collaborate more with Unit4

Our intelligent financial planning & analysis tools are designed for people who like simple but deal with the complex. We help you bring teams together to work on and understand the numbers but also share and act on that insight to achieve better results. See how Unit4 FP&A makes collaboration easier today!

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