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financial planning, challenges in financial planning

Common Challenges Encountering Financial Planning Process (and How Adaptive Planning Addresses It).

What do you often do when you are faced with obstacles in life? You have a few options: Learn to live with the challenges, simply ignore them until they somehow go away, Fake it till you make it, or find a way to address them (no matter how long it takes). There are many ways to deal with the cumbersomeness of life, so don’t face a challenge and let it overpower you. 

Similarly, when you have an organisation, and things are going well with how you do things, you notice that a new challenge arises as the business world becomes rapidly progressive and modernised. Talking about getting on your nerves, yeah? 

The Financial Planning Process is Complex

Planning processes involving these two can be challenging and complex for several reasons. Imagine being the leader of a financial team. How does one deal with complexity? When something gets too complicated, the whole process turns you into a block of melting ice.

Multiple Stakeholders and Data Sources

Have you ever tried to plan a trip with a group of friends with different interests and views? The process of planning a simple trip can be so overwhelming when it involves different types of people.

Finance is a company’s backbone. Hence, financial planning typically involves various stakeholders, including finance professionals and teams like sales and operations—all with different views. Collecting and integrating data from these diverse sources can be challenging, leading to complexity in the planning process.

Poor Alignment Between Business and Finance

When business and finance functions are not well-aligned, it can hinder the accuracy and effectiveness of financial planning. This misalignment can arise from differences in goals, strategies, or communication between departments.

Manual Processes and Legacy Systems

Excel is the OG, as Gen Z likes to describe it. It is an approach that has been well-received in the past and is still practised by most companies. For a small-medium company, using Excel to manually collect data for financial planning is still considered doable.

When a company grows in size and number of people, doing things manually somehow leads to more problems than good. Manual data collection and using outdated systems can lead to inefficiencies, errors, and complexity in financial planning. These systems often lack the flexibility and automation needed to handle the dynamic nature of financial data.

Ensuring the accuracy and reliability of data is crucial for financial planning. However, data inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and incomplete information can significantly complicate the planning process.

Coordination and Communication

Effective financial planning requires seamless communication and coordination among various stakeholders. Communication breakdowns can lead to misunderstandings, delays, and complexity in the planning process.

Scenario Planning and Risk Management

Financial planning involves scenario planning and risk management to anticipate and mitigate potential challenges. Developing and managing these scenarios can be complex, especially when dealing with multiple variables and uncertainties.

Ongoing Monitoring and Updates

Financial planning is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and updates. This ongoing nature can lead to complexity, as it involves regularly reassessing and adjusting plans to reflect changing circumstances.

What are the common challenges? 

Data Inaccuracies

Even making the most straightforward decision takes days and nights. You listed every pros and cons, but you could not come to one absolute decision that would leave nothing but satisfaction.

Making an informed decision that puts your company at stake is even more challenging. Hence, accurate and reliable data is crucial for creating trustworthy forecasts and making informed decisions. Inaccurate data can lead to flawed forecasts, missed opportunities, and increased risk due to human errors, inconsistencies in data sources, and changes in data definitions. 

Legacy Systems 

The “legacy” here doesn’t mean leaving your legacy behind.

Legacy systems mean using an outdated system when you are supposed to elevate financial planning’s approach to align with your business goals.

A legacy financial planning and analysis (FP&A) system can be inflexible, lack proper security protocols, and require significant resources to maintain and support. This may pose a financial burden and impede FP&A operations.

Lack of Insights and Limited Transparency

The ability to make data-driven decisions, navigate uncertainties, and provide strategic guidance relies on having access to accurate, relevant, and up-to-date business insights. A lack of actionable insights can limit decision-making, strategic planning, forecasting, and other key finance imperatives.

Budgeting processes can go awry when built on data of questionable accuracy and with limited transparency into spending trends. This can lead to overspending, inefficient resource allocation, and difficulties predicting future financial needs.

How Adaptive Planning Addresses It?

These factors contribute to the complexity of operational and financial planning processes, highlighting the need for robust strategies, efficient processes, and effective communication to manage these complexities effectively.

Data Integration and Automation

Adaptive seamlessly integrates with your organisation’s ERP system, which stores your actual financial data. Adaptive can automatically integrate data and regularly retrieve actuals from the ERP system. This removes the necessity for manual data input or file transfers, guaranteeing your planning models stay in sync with current financial information.

A Single Source of Truth

With Adaptive, it’s possible to establish and manage a unified planning model. This allows all users to access and edit the identical plan version, removing the difficulties of handling numerous spreadsheet or workbook versions.

Having a single source of truth can avoid discrepancies, version control issues, and the laborious task of consolidating data from various sources.

Defined Roles and User Access Control

Adaptive provides comprehensive user access and permissions functionality. You have the capability to establish roles and allocate specific access privileges to users according to their responsibilities. This ensures that users can only view and modify the data and functionality relevant to their roles.

Through the implementation of detailed user access controls, Adaptive improves data security, lessens the risk of unauthorised data modification, and ensures the protection of sensitive information.

Cloud-based Software to Access Anywhere

As a cloud-based solution, Adaptive allows users to access the application from any location with an internet connection. Whether users are working from the office, at home, or while travelling, they can securely log in to Adaptive through their web browsers.

This flexibility in accessibility ensures that teams can collaborate effectively, no matter where they are located. It supports remote work, distributed teams, and global collaboration, ultimately boosting productivity and responsiveness.

Streamlined Planning Process

Adaptive provides powerful automation features that make planning processes more efficient and uncomplicated. Tasks that used to be manual and time-consuming, such as consolidating data, allocation, and complex calculations, can be automated within Adaptive.

By defining formulas, rules, and calculations, you can automate repetitive tasks, considerably cutting down on manual effort and reducing the likelihood of errors. Automation conserves time, enhances accuracy, and lets users concentrate on more valuable analysis and decision-making.

Multidimensional Planning

Adaptive’s primary advantage lies in its capacity to manage multidimensional planning effectively. It offers the versatility to plan, analyse, and report across various dimensions such as business units, departments and beyond.

This multidimensionality enables a granular understanding of the organisation’s performance, enabling more profound insights, improved scenario analysis, and better-informed decision-making. Users can segment and analyse data using various aspects, offering a thorough perspective of the company.

Advanced Modelling Capabilities

Adaptive’s advanced modelling capabilities remove the necessity for repetitive manual calculations. The application enables you to establish formulas, rules, and calculations tailored to your specific planning needs.

Once configured, these calculations are automatically applied to the relevant data points. This automation ensures consistency, accuracy, and efficiency, mainly when dealing with tasks like workforce planning by position, where multiple calculations are required.

Workday Adaptive Planning Empowers Financial Planning Processes

Workday Adaptive Planning allows organisations to tackle common planning challenges effectively, streamline their processes, foster collaboration, ensure data accuracy, and drive better decision-making using real-time insights.

Experience Workday Adaptive Planning Today.

cloud fp&A

What businesses should know before choosing the right cloud FP&A tool?

Imagine taking a trip to the store trying to find a good, fresh watermelon without going over budget. The problem is that you have no idea how to check for a good watermelon, and you might buy a rotten one. Since we can’t see the inside of a watermelon, some people take a leap of faith, buy whatever they think looks okay, and hope it tastes good. 

Sometimes, hope goes down the drain. You return home, anticipating eating the sweet watermelon, only to find the inside completely rotten. Here is your stake: you lost your last penny to a rotten watermelon you somehow had to throw away. 

But imagine if you went into the store and had done research on how to choose the best watermelon to ensure that it tastes sweet, so that your money is well spent. 

We can apply the same concept to choosing the right cloud FP&A tools. You have a business and plan to adopt a new system with zero knowledge. Here’s what you know: your business needs financial planning software that can cater to your medium-sized company. 

Importance of choosing the right cloud FP&A (Financial Planning & Analysis) tool for businesses

You want to spend your company’s budget to deliver a good return on investment (ROI). But you have always done the FP&A process manually and were doing fine. Why do you need it now?

Cloud FP&A tool is merely a tool. You can achieve more compelling wins by implementing cloud FP&A software in your company. Such as:

  • Streamlined financial processes: Cloud FP&A tools automate repetitive tasks like data entry, consolidation, and report generation, allowing your teams to focus on strategic activities such as data analysis and forecasting.
  • Enhances accuracy and reliability: Cloud FP&A software ensures more accurate reports and forecasts by minimising manual errors, leading to more confident decision-making. 
  • Provides real-time insights: Modern cloud FP&A tools offer features like data integration, predictive analytics, scenario modelling, and reporting capabilities that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the finance function.
  • Supports growth: Cloud FP&A solutions help businesses streamline their budgeting and forecasting process, track financial performance, analyse trends, and generate actionable insights that inform strategic decision-making.
  • Minimising costs: Investing in cloud FP&A software can be more cost-effective than having finance teams perform repetitive and manual tasks, which can be time-consuming and error-prone.

Key Considerations when selecting a cloud FP&A solution

“yeah, yeah, I get it”, says you. 

FP&A is important, and now you are fueled with great anticipation. It’s like waiting for your favourite TV show’s new episode every Sunday. 

So you set up a meeting with your FP&A teams, tell them about adopting a novel system that can further grow the company and boom—you become too overwhelmed with choosing the right tools. 

How do I choose? Who do I go to? What if I made the wrong choice? The puzzling questions continue. 

Understanding Your Business Needs

When choosing a cloud FP&A tool, aligning your selection with your company’s overall strategy and objectives is crucial. Firstly, it’s important to set clear financial goals for the short-term and long-term. Think about how this tool can help you achieve your growth plans, adapt to changes, and gain a competitive edge in the market. Keeping your business goals at the forefront ensures that the cloud FP&A software you choose will provide the necessary functionality and insights to drive your company’s financial success.

Evaluating Cloud FP&A Tool Features

When evaluating FP&A tool features, it is essential to consider a range of critical aspects to ensure the software aligns with your business needs and objectives. 

FP&A success hinges on powerful dynamic modelling and fundamental FP&A principles such as revenue, expenses, personnel, P&L, cash flow, and balance sheet reporting. Efficiency and accuracy are equally important, and can be achieved by emphasising the need for workflows, collaboration tools, and automation within the software to expedite task completion and enhance data consistency. 

The long-term value of an FP&A solution should be assessed. Look for platforms like Workday Adaptive Planning that offer automation, machine learning (ML) capabilities, broad integration options and customisable features to drive better business modelling and insights. 

Review of Cloud Migration Consultants 

Transition is never smooth sailing; we need time to adapt to the new environment. The same concept applies to transitioning from one system to a new system. Hence, the next crucial step in cloud FP&A implementation is the credibility of the cloud migration consultants. 

The fitting consultants will provide strategic guidance, technical expertise, and support to ensure your company has a velvety transition. If you want to implement cloud FP&A software, looking for a consultant who has successfully implemented similar cloud migration projects is important. What’s more noteworthy is for the consultant to be able to communicate complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner. 

Another substantial point to note is to scrutinise consultants who offer support and training to help you and your team adjust to the new cloud environment rather than letting you navigate it on your own. For instance, Shearwater will provide support in every stage: the early implementation stage, during the implementation, and post-implementation. 

Scalability and Flexibility

When choosing FP&A software, consider its ability to scale and adapt as your business grows and evolves. Look for a solution to handle increasing data volumes and complexity without compromising performance. Assess the tool’s adaptability to changing business requirements, such as new reporting needs or integration with additional systems. 

The ideal cloud FP&A software should be adaptable to your company’s growth and evolving financial planning and analysis needs, guaranteeing that your investment continues to add value as your business expands.

Assessing User Experience and Support

The user experience of an FP&A tool is a critical factor to consider, as it directly impacts the efficiency and productivity of your finance team. Say the FP&A tool is hard to navigate, making it difficult for your team to adjust. Subsequently, the implementation decreases your team’s productivity rather than assisting them in achieving streamlined financial processes. 

Look for software with an intuitive interface and user-friendly design that minimises your team’s learning curve. A tool with a strong user experience and reliable support can help your team maximise the software’s value and ensure a smooth implementation process. 

Also, consider the quality of customer support and the consultant’s responsiveness to issues or questions that may arise while using the tool.

Calculating Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Cloud FP&A implementation can be a risky yet powerful investment. Calculating the total cost of ownership (TCO) when selecting an FP&A tool is crucial to understanding the complete financial impact over the tool’s lifetime. TCO includes the initial licence fees or subscription costs, implementation and training expenses, ongoing maintenance and support costs, and any hidden or unexpected fees. 

By thoroughly evaluating all direct and indirect costs associated with the cloud FP&A software, businesses can make informed decisions and select a solution that provides the best value for their investment.

Cloud Implementation Time 

When evaluating the time required for implementing cloud FP&A software, it is vital to assess the anticipated duration of the implementation process. Understanding the time required for deployment, configuration, training, and data migration is like a backbone to minimise disruptions to business operations. 

Adequate planning and resource allocation can help ensure a smooth transition to the new FP&A software without significant downtime or delays in accessing critical financial data. Moreover, evaluating the availability of resources and expertise for successful implementation can contribute to the timely and effective deployment of the chosen FP&A solution.

Conclusion

In conclusion, just as with selecting the perfect watermelon, choosing the right cloud FP&A software for your business requires research and knowledge. You wouldn’t want to invest your resources into a system that doesn’t meet your needs, much like you wouldn’t want to spend your last penny on a rotten watermelon. 

Therefore, understanding the features, scalability, and support that different FP&A software offers is crucial to ensuring that your investment enhances your business operations and growth – ensuring that your business is equipped with the best tools to achieve its financial goals.

Experience Workday Adaptive Planning Today.

SWJ

With Great Efforts, Comes The Win: Shearwater Japan Scored Multiple Awards

In a remarkable display of excellence and innovation, Shearwater Japan emerged as the undisputed star, recognised by Oracle Japan as the NetSuite leader for Japan 2023. At this event, we witnessed SWJ’s resounding success as it secured multiple awards, reinforcing its commitment to pushing the boundaries of achievement. The Partner event serves as a platform for recognising outstanding breakthroughs; this year’s event was no exception. Shearwater Japan’s outstanding achievements stood out in a crowd of formidable contenders. 

At the heart of their remarkable triumph was their unwavering dedication to innovation. The exceptional services provided by them were a clear indication of their unwavering commitment to excellence.

SWJ

Strong Teamwork and Dedication

Behind these awards lie a team of dedicated individuals who have transformed Shearwater Japan’s vision into a tangible reality. The company’s leadership, strong teamwork and excellent expertise have worked in unison to navigate challenges and seize opportunities, propelling Shearwater Japan to the summit of success. The awards symbolise the collective effort that has shaped its journey and continues to drive its future endeavours.

SWJ’s distinction as a top-tier cloud solutions provider has gained even more recognition due to their recent success in winning an impressive three awards at the Oracle NetSuite partner event.

Shearwater Japan clinched the coveted New Logo Rockstar award, achieved recognition by securing the prestigious Most Valuable Partner Top ARR Award, the esteemed Largest Deal Award and Japan Most Valuable Award FY23 at the Oracle NetSuite event. 

As a premier financial digital transformation consultancy in Japan, SWJ has become a pivotal player within Shearwater Asia’s strategic initiatives for market growth across Asia. SWJ stands out for its exceptional expertise in cloud solutions and the implementation of automation projects. This puts them at the forefront of helping businesses reach new heights with cloud solutions. The awards not only underscore the persistent dedication of the SWJ team but also embody the collective efforts exhibited across Shearwater Asia.

Final Words

These recognitions stand as a resounding testament to the trust enterprises repose in Shearwater Japan for steering their finance digital transformation moves. Shearwater Asia and Shearwater Japan remain dedicated to constantly expanding our offerings, reinforcing our partnership with Oracle NetSuite, and maintaining our position as the foremost cloud solutions provider.