Why being a ‘storyteller’ is key to your FP&A arsenal?
FP&A storyteller

Why being a ‘storyteller’ is key to your FP&A arsenal?

Modern FP&A teams realize new skills are becoming necessary to do their roles effectively. But how many expected ‘storytellers’ to be on that list?

FP&A Storytellers wanted

As the demands on FP&A teams grow, so do the skills they need to fulfill them. But do you know what’s expected of you or not?

Most FP&A teams have already begun to adapt to new responsibilities. They are now relied on as key data architects, influencers, and analysts. Responsible for using modern tools to understand complex data and action these insights and bring the company on these journeys.

But one skill many are yet to adopt or even realize they need is storytelling. Why? FP&A storytelling brings the power of all these other roles successfully together. Blending data, analysis, and understanding into compelling insights for the rest of the business to act on.

Using the power of storytelling, you can take overly complex dashboards and reports and turn results and analysis into digestible and actionable information your business can use instantly.

What’s wrong with reports?

For FP&A, regular monthly reports and their visual representations, i.e. ‘dashboards’ are today’s norm for presenting data.  But with technology at your fingertips, it’s easy to get carried away with colorful graphs, donuts, maps, line charts, etc.

Insights are only meaningful if people understand them. And in modern organizations, already drowning in data, time is of the essence. So complex reports and massive, unwieldy dashboards are becoming more of a burden than a benefit.

That’s where storytelling changes the game for analysis and decision-making.

What’s the story behind storytelling?

Numbers are numbers. They don’t speak for themselves, despite what people might think. Without context and language, they remain numbers. So how do you tell their story?

FP&A stories take reporting to the next, more logical, and digestible level. You’re not removing reports; instead, you’re supporting them with supplementary information presented in a way that’s quick and easy for others to understand.

The stories help clarify the message by extracting what’s of most importance for the audience. So your CEO gets the ‘headlines’ of what is most pertinent to them at that moment.

Your report or dashboard is still there for those who need to drill down, such as specific teams or functions. But for others who need the big picture or to act fast, your story tells them precisely what they need to know straight away.

In simple terms, FP&A stories are like an in-house newspaper for analysis and insights. In them, you highlight the relevant information that people need to know—giving them headlines and stories they can track and follow almost instinctively.

How do you bring FP&A stories to life?

In our previous blog post, Tell the real story behind your data, we discussed how the IBCS created a simple formula to tell data stories a success. The headlines for the SUCCESS formula are:

SAY — convey a message

UNIFY — Apply a semantic notion

CONDENSE — Increase information density

CHECK — Ensure visual integrity

EXPRESS — Choose proper visualization

SIMPLIFY — Avoid clutter

STRUCTURE — Organize content

This formula helps you: (1) prioritize actions and insights by urgency and impact. (2) highlights how presenting data in a clear newspaper-like format enables you to tell those stories in a way people understand and digest, and (3) helps you give people deeper insights for strategic decision-making. 

Ultimately, FP&A stories let you help people get to the truth faster, plan quicker, and make better decisions every day, which adds up to a powerful story for any organization.

FP&A storyteller

Move from insight to impact

Telling stories creates real impact in today’s data-heavy and dynamic business landscape. So is it time you started using FP&A analytics and storytelling to change your data game? Uncover how to tell your data’s story in our recent webinar and bring clarity and urgency to your insights.

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