Finance teams trying to meet the needs of modern businesses need more — more people, more data, and more resources. FP&A teams often work within older systems, or just Google Sheets or Excel, and execute time-consuming, recurring manual processes. The time spent on repetitive manual work hurts teams’ ability to make the transformative impact they’d be capable of if they had more time. That’s where modern FP&A solutions come in.
Next-generation FP&A software tools give FP&A teams more by enabling them to efficiently handle larger data sets, collaborate better, automate workflows, and plan more effectively. There are many next-gen FP&A software solutions available, and it’s crucial for FP&A teams to familiarize themselves with the choices and complete an in-depth evaluation of potential providers.
For a complete guide to evaluating FP&A software + a downloadable checklist for the evaluation process, check out our FP&A Buyer’s Guide.
What can I do with FP&A software?
FP&A software helps teams consolidate multiple data sources and collaborate more effectively with cross-functional partners. Next-generation FP&A solutions like Vareto help teams increase accuracy and productivity, make decisions more effectively by using real-time data, and collaborate better.
FP&A software’s ability to automate many manual and regularly recurring FP&A tasks can help reduce errors while saving significant time. Finance teams can also leverage integrations with ERP, CRM, HRIS, and other tools to bring previously siloed data directly into one platform, serving as the primary source of truth for operational and financial data. For example, this can eliminate time-consuming CSV data pulls from NetSuite to respond to business department requests. Real-time access to financial data and insights promotes informed decision-making and allows teams to adapt quickly to changes in the market. Additionally, collaboration features in FP&A software can increase transparency and trust between finance teams and business stakeholders by reducing friction and back-and-forth delays.
Are you ready for FP&A software?
Not every team needs FP&A software. Organizations that benefit from FP&A software typically have complex needs and require multiple finance people to collaborate across many business units and with numerous leaders, meaning one person can no longer support FP&A activities. To use FP&A software to its full potential, there are a few things you’ll want to have in place:
- A problem to solve
- A plan for implementation
- The correct systems and structures
- Clean and organized data
Know what problems you’re trying to solve. Potential FP&A software providers will ask you to identify key pain points during the sales process to help teams prioritize solutions. The more specific you can be with your needs, the better.
Create an implementation plan. Come to the table with an idea of how you want to roll out the tool to your organization, including key monthly dates to keep in mind during onboarding.
Have the correct systems and structures in place. FP&A software will allow you to take data from different systems and make them talk to each other. Make sure you’re happy with the systems and structures already in place. If you’re going to be making significant changes to the way you organize data or are going to be changing tools for business-critical systems, it’s best to wait until after those implementations to start with a new FP&A solution.
Be confident that you have clean, well-organized data. Ensure that you have the same fields across business-critical systems. If you have to do significant manual work offline and out of source systems, build those processes back into the systems.
Evaluating potential FP&A software providers
Many different FP&A software tools are available with different feature sets and capabilities. Take the time to research all your options to find the best FP&A software for your specific needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to financial planning and analysis, and the available software solutions reflect that. During the evaluation process, you’ll have the opportunity to demo the product and ask questions. Make sure to ask about the following:
Functionality and capabilities. Evaluate how the solution can support and improve current processes. Teams should get into the details of each provider’s offerings and ask specific questions to help them understand how the solution can help them achieve their goals.
Onboarding process. Implementing an FP&A solution is inherently time-consuming and requires some complexity, but the onboarding process shouldn’t be painful. The FP&A software provider should have a plan in place for your organization’s onboarding and should be able to give detailed answers to your questions.
Ongoing support. Will you have a dedicated point of contact committed to your team’s success? If so, how knowledgeable is that person about finance?
User-friendliness and ease of use. FP&A software is meant to improve efficiency, which means it should be easier to use than what you previously did. There’s always a learning curve with new platforms, but the software shouldn’t require learning a whole new language.
Collaboration. Improved collaboration is a core benefit of the newest generation of FP&A software. It should be easy for both finance and business partners to use and understand. A platform that acts as a centralized place for working and reporting provides better transparency and accuracy and reduces back and forth between teams.
Long-term vision and scalability. Scalability is often overlooked during the evaluation process. As your organization grows, can the tool grow with you?
Pricing. Ensure you understand the total cost involved, not just the initial cost for the software. Find out if the software provider has flat, all-in pricing or utilizes a packaged, price-per-seat approach. Is the quoted cost all-inclusive, with access to unlimited feature sets?
Security. Remaining compliant with FASB and IFSB is top of mind for most finance teams. Don’t forget to ask about the security practices for the tool and whether or not the software is SOC 2 compliant.
Reputation. Research a proposed vendor’s reputation and ask for current customer references.
FP&A software and internal business partners
The transition to FP&A software (or from one vendor to another) often impacts other departments across the business in addition to the FP&A team, so it’s essential to fully support team members and business partners during the change. Communicate early and often with internal stakeholders, and build buy-in by involving them in the evaluation process. Encourage business partners to provide feedback on the software and its features and consider their input when implementing the tool. Once the tool is live, ensure that finance team members and business partners receive the training and support they need to use the software effectively.