Older Planning Tools Block Business Partnership According to FP&A Leaders

Lisa Abbott, VP Marketing

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Most FP&A teams struggle to find time for business partnership, but research shows that teams using legacy planning applications are struggling more. This is holding back the business, and could even be career-limiting!  

Driven by our belief that finance needs to be the proactive driver of business strategy, we set out to survey 150+ FP&A leaders in the U.S. to uncover the reasons why they lack time for business partnership. 

We discovered that FP&A teams who work with older technology (like legacy planning tools or spreadsheets) struggle more with manual tasks – at the expense of high-value work. When asked "Does inadequate technology limit your ability to impact the business?", 42% of FP&A leaders said "Yes." However, that number soared to 71% for those working primarily in spreadsheets.

Graph of data showing % of FP&A leaders who a limited by lack of technology

FP&A has the potential to create incredible value for the business. Standing at the intersection of finance and operations, FP&A can understand the performance drivers and challenges of each department, and the way that one team’s performance affects others. Without the data and time to develop this insight, finance professionals are blocked from effective business partnership and the more meaningful contributions they want to make. 

Unfortunately, the data shows that legacy FP&A tools (or relying primarily on spreadsheets) hurt not just FP&A leaders – but the whole business – in three big ways.

Legacy FP&A tools hinder potential  

  1. Slow processes -- an endless cycle of manual work 

Relying on legacy tools adds days of extra work to FP&A processes. 

  • Only 8% of FP&A teams surveyed can produce a BvA within 3 days. 43% require 6 days or more.
  • 64% of FP&A teams still do headcount reconciliation manually. 

  1. Lack of FP&A agility holds the business back 

FP&A teams saddled with old technology are planning without the essential operational insights they need. Earlier generations of FP&A software integrate primarily with an ERP to pull financial data into the plans. This yields one-dimensional plans and forecasts with limited value for the current demands and trends in corporate finance

The modern mandate for FP&A teams requires operational data. Legacy tools just aren’t pulling that data into plans and forecasts, so analysts are stuck doing the data gathering and manipulation manually in spreadsheets. It’s tedious, error-prone, and wastes valuable time. 

Our survey findings definitely revealed the agility limitations of older generations of FP&A tools: 

FP&A leaders who say they “definitely need a consultant, internal admin, or specialist to make changes to underlying logic or structure of my planning model” are twice as likely to be using older gen planning/consolidation/BI systems (34%) compared to all other applications (7% -17%).

If analysts can’t be proactive and adjust their own models, strategic decisions are delayed and the organization is blocked from taking action when strategic opportunities arise. 

  1. Legacy FP&A tools may limit the FP&A leader’s career

FP&A leaders drowning in manual work don’t have the time to spend embedded in other business units. Processing data and reporting takes forever in legacy tools. These teams are stuck in 2-week reporting processes with no leftover time for other strategic activities. 

But the most successful FP&A leaders prioritize business partnership. Finance business partners engage with stakeholders to link financial plans intrinsically with the company's overarching goals. Unfortunately, only 20% of teams that plan in spreadsheets or legacy tools involve stakeholders in both annual planning and forecasting. 

As one FP&A leader said, “I was shocked at how much easier it can be with modern FP&A software and automation to help. It enables me to do higher-level tasks.” 

Don’t let legacy tools be the reason your FP&A passion stagnates. Find the organization that will give you the tools you need to thrive. 

Break down barriers to finance business partnership

FP&A expert Christian Wattig and Brian Camposano, Stratify CEO, dove into the data from a new survey of mid-market FP&A leaders in this recorded webinar, sharing practical ways to address the top roadblocks to business partnership with skills and technology. They cover:

  Insights from 150+ FP&A leaders - Discover the common blockers and success factors. See how you compare.

✔  How to leverage finance skills to level up and be an effective business partner.

✔  How to use new technology to reclaim time and collaborate with stakeholders.

✔ Take action and hear expert answers to top questions from finance leaders like you.

Last Updated:
June 13, 2024

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