Music has been a large part of my life for many years now. I have played drums and percussion in multiple bands, orchestras and jazz ensembles, and I have sung in several choirs and barber shop quartets. The one constant through all of them has been a talented conductor or director at the helm. A band doesn’t simply get together and decide to play a famous concerto. The conductor chooses a piece that speaks to him or her, works with each section of the orchestra on their specific notes and rhythms and ensures that each part fits seamlessly together to make beautiful music. Your Finance department should be no different.
Finance should be at the center of your planning, analysis and reporting processes and solution. You need to direct the process so you can craft and tell your “story.” Picture a hub and spoke model which has Finance in the middle so all roads lead to FP&A. To be clear, every function (Sales, Marketing, IT, HR, Shared Services, Operations) needs to have a seat at the table so you all stay aligned and support the overall story while each group writes its own chapter. You need to make it a priority to reach out to all groups and understand what their needs are and learn how they operate. Ultimately, however, you own the overall three statement reporting (P&L, BS and CF) and you need to make sure that the functions support your story.
As you become more sophisticated, your journey will take you into the other functions. Follow every number/metric back to its source and work with that group to create a better, more inclusive process. If you make them part of the process, you will gain their buy-in and ownership. In the past, I have worked in an organization that had Finance Business Partners embedded in each function. Those resources reported directly to FP&A but had a dotted line to the functional leadership. You may not have the luxury of additional headcount so just make sure to create a structure that includes everyone in the process.
As each section (department or function) improves, you will be able to play increasingly more difficult compositions and songs. The end product will be more concise and accurate and your entire organization will be aligned. Good luck and enjoy the music!
Did you miss previous posts on FP&A Done Right? Check them out: