Businesses operate continuously, so should financial planning

Imagine if every conversation between Finance and the rest of the company started at a strategic, high level… because the non-Finance teams are already literate with the financial data and thinking relevant to their function.

Instead of the non-FP&A units getting frustrated that their asks are getting shut down because the financial numbers aren’t supportive, they can start working backwards from the numbers, figuring out how to make the numbers themselves better. Instead of serving as gatekeepers, the FP&A team can serve as a guidepost, offering strategic counsel to help the company make better decisions, more frequently. Instead of only touching base when it’s time to put together the annual operating plan, the FP&A team has the bandwidth to sustain a consistent cadence with their colleagues, course-correcting when necessary, adapting and adjusting as the business environment dynamically evolves.

That’s reality when a company is Continuously Planning — with the right tools, capabilities, and processes, the entire company operates at a higher financial IQ, as both FP&A and the non-finance units help each other reach their full potential.

Financial Planning, continuously…

This modern planning framework recognises a business operates continuously, so financial planning and decision-making should be continuous, too. The most immediate benefit of Continuous Planning is the elimination of the periodic, static planning cycles that disrupt your organisation yet result in a plan that’s outdated as soon as it’s published.

The rest of the business likely feels disdain for periodic FP&A requests as well. Marketing doesn’t want to explain why expensive events are worth it. Sales can’t take time away from deals while they gather data and manipulate spreadsheets. HR is confident that a higher-cost medical plan will lead to a happier culture and longer tenured workers, yet they can’t quantify it. Supply Chain can’t afford to take their eyes off of contract negotiations in order to explain a GL account variance.

Continuous Planning replaces that dreaded periodic planning cycle with a continuously updated, ‘always on’ view of your business. The underlying data foundation of Continuous Planning then helps throughout the year by enabling instant access to the data you and the business need to build or update your plans, react to the changing conditions around you, and make smarter decisions in the moment. And it lets you do it without the burden of manual data collection, the complexity of spreadsheets, and the fear that a simple error throws off an entire business (or career!).

Elevating The Company’s Financial IQ

Proving your value to the organisation helps you grow in your career, either up through Finance or out into the business. That requires understanding every aspect of the business, not just finance.

Continuous Planning helps you appreciate each team’s goals and constraints, both through the lens of finance and from their points of view, so you can make more intelligent and informed decisions, and help them be more effective at their jobs while you’re at it.

Continuous Planning gives everyone the confidence to act decisively as business events unfold. The business will know that the data, models, forecasts, and reports coming from FP&A will be accurate, current, and complete. They’ll learn the financial impact of their decisions and use that knowledge to make better ones more frequently.They’ll look to you for actionable answers, which leads to even more impactful collaboration.

In turn, you become more knowledgeable about the business and how all of the components come together to create a company-wide financial picture.

Eliminating Silos and Fostering Partnership Through Continuous Planning

Over the next few weeks, we’ll drill down into how FP&A can break through those barriers between key business functions like HR, Sales, Marketing, and Supply Chain, and become a true partner to the rest of the organisation.

Stay tuned!