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Top Nine Lessons for FP&A Professionals in 2018

  • By Bryan Lapidus, FP&A
  • Published: 12/18/2018

Top Nine Lessons for FP&A ProfessionalsThis has been an eventful year in FP&A. Here are the top nine lessons FP&A professionals learned in 2018.

If you’re like me, you love end-of-year articles! So I asked some friends of mine in the FP&A profession a simple question: What did you learn in 2018?

Here are their responses:

I LEARNED A NEW BUDGETING TECHNIQUE:

“I changed jobs in 2018 and my new employer budgets based on a computer projection of prior year. Had not seen that before!” -- Pete Geiler, AFP FP&A Advisory Council

I LEARNED TO OVERCOME LEGACY TECHNOLOGY:

“Lots of technological developments are happening in FP&A but legacy systems keep us behind to adapting those faster. Intellectual curiosity is key to being successful in FP&A. This is even more true as there is more data available in the world. A blend of functional knowledge and technical knowledge is needed to handle digital transformation and make use of this data to come to good conclusions.” -- Tom Russell, AFP FP&A Advisory Council

I LEARNED THE VALUE OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

“I attended my first AFP conference in November 2018 and made many amazing new connections and met new friends. I was again reminded of the tremendous value of face-to-face events and interactions in terms of both personal and professional growth.” -- Rachele Collins, Ph.D., Principal Research Lead, APQC

I LEARNED ABOUT BUSINESS PARTNERING:

“Top performing FP&A teams that have automated much of their repetitive work have increasingly focused on forming strong business partnerships to provide analysis and guidance in the formulation of business strategy. They dedicate nearly half their staff to business partnerships.

“As well, we learned that most finance organization have already adopted cloud, RPA and advanced analytics on a limited basis, with plans for significant growth in adoption going forward. That said, these predictions have sometimes proven to be more aspirational than realistic. Finance organizations have come to realize that the ROI on digital projects can be elusive, primarily because they have unrealistic expectations about the timeline and difficulty of implementations.” -- Nilly Essaides, Senior Research Director Finance/EPM/FinOps, The Hackett Group

I LEARNED FP&A HAS MUCH TO LEARN:

“Still lots of confusion, fear and uncertainty within FP&A teams. Most people don’t know what an API is and are unaware of the differences between Descriptive, Predictive, Prescriptive Analytics and Financial Modeling. Excel is getting a bit more love, but to be more embraced minds need to shift and people need to know what is a three-way model and how to build it quickly using automation from scratch. Not enough FP&A people have ever done this.” -- Lance Rubin, CEO of Model Citzn, CFO of Sequel CFO

I LEARNED TO DO MORE WITH LESS:

“I’ve seen that once again, FP&A and all of Finance is being asked to do more with less. Yes, I know this is the same as it was last year, but I was hoping for a change here.” -- FP&A executive on LinkedIn

I LEARNED THAT BUDGETS ARE STILL DUBIOUS:

“What I learned during 2018 was budgets are being questioned in regard to their usefulness, and technology is being discussed as a more dominant part of the people/process/technology approach.” -- FP&A professional on LinkedIn

I LEARNED THAT FP&A NEEDS MORE SUPPORT:

“I learnt that FP&A needs more support to see the opportunity of forecasting and decision-making automation and to not go to crazy shouting about data science, RPA and all their benefits as so few are running projects in this area, and most of those are experimental. That said I am absolutely on a mission to bury the low value tasks we seem to spend way too much time on and move the CFO one step closer to Chief Value Officer.” -- Christopher Argent, CFO Advisory and Digital Consultant, Generation CFO

I LEARNED THAT TECHNOLOGY IS NOT BENEFITING ALL:

“I learned that when it comes to finance technology, as the saying goes, the future is here, but it is not evenly distributed. Some teams are far down the tech transformation path, while others are struggling to hit mediocrity.” -- Bryan Lapidus, Director of FP&A Practice, AFP

Here’s to learning more in 2019!

Connect with Bryan Lapidus, FP&A, via emailLinkedIn or Twitter.

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