Top 3 FP&A People Processes You Should be Leveraging
Posted by Chris Ortega
In FP&A there are plenty of tools, technologies and fancy options at your disposal. However, these eye-catching technologies won’t take your team to the next level without 3 key people processes that your team should be leveraging. As a FP&A leader or CFO your probably bombarded with messages, phone calls and emails from many technology providers. So, in this blog I will explore the top 3 people processes you should be leveraging in order to have a solid foundation.
Business Partnership “Making Friends in the Business”
Business Partnership is fostering collaborative, strong and valued added relationships with other functional areas. I’ve written many articles and spoke at many conferences and this process is the most important for top performing FP&A teams. You might ask, “Chris how do I get started?” It’s simple, sit down with another functional area and ask them what their business pains, frustrations, opportunities and efficiency concerns are. Also, you don’t have to be a manager or finance leader to start these conversations.
“Well, Chris why is business partnership important?” Think about that last strategic business initiative or the last big project that got implemented. My guess is that initiative or project involved many business areas to get this complete or off the ground. So, business partnership and solutioning is vital and should be a pillar for your FP&A team. FP&A challenge: Build a new partnership with another functional area on addressing one of their business pain points then comment on this post.
Leveraging Alliances “I scratch your back and you scratch mine.”
Now, before you jump to conclusions that FP&A is only focused on building alliances and relationships that ultimately help them in the end that is not my intention. Leveraging alliances means continuing to leverage relationships, experiences and favorable business outcomes to continue to drive your FP&A mission. For example, say you built a strong alliance with the VP of Sales at your organization through being in the trenches and going through some battles together. Now, you are looking to sell a new FP&A technology adoption internally for your team. What better group to help advocate and sale this project internally than sales leadership; these people are the masters. Side point: I think FP&A are masters at this as well with the art of story telling but I will save that for another post. Now, in this example you’re not only leveraging the relationship, but also the advocacy, skills and overall human capital which every organization has. FP&A Challenge: Identify an opportunity to grow or expand by leveraging a business alliance you have built then comment on your results.
Listen, Understand, Analyze, Plan, then Speak “Master the art of listening to understand than to speak”
I’ll be the first to say this is challenging for me given I’m a non-traditional finance & FP&A leader because my primary focus is on people & strategy first then numbers and forecasts. I know, you probably reading this like, “WTF” but hear me out. Too many times FP&A teams focus on competency-based skills i.e. forecasting, data skills, budgeting and other technical competencies. Why? It’s where we are most comfortable and love showing that we are the spreadsheet superstars. Am I right? However, FP&A has greater impact when we’re quick to listen & understand and slow to speak. What I mean by this is deeply understanding the root cause concerns from your business partner first. Put yourself in their situation, feel their pain and really take time to understand. Why is this important? Think about the last time you were quick to offer a solution to a business problem without really understanding the reason why it occurred in the first place. Sound familiar? FP&A Challenge: In your next meeting with a business partner don’t come in presenting the numbers. Ask how they feel about the current state of their business? Then, sit back, listen and deeply understand what they are saying.