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Author's profile photo Pras Chatterjee

North American View into the Future of Financial Planning and Analysis

Highlights from the latest study by CFO Research and SAP

Recently CFO Research conducted a global study sponsored by SAP, that shows that finance executives from North America (the United States and Canada) acknowledge that pressure on finance teams to improve their contribution to high-value planning and analysis is increasing. The question, however, is whether they feel they have the tools and resources they’ll need in order to make good on that promise.

In the survey, nine in ten (91%) finance executives from North America agree that over the next two years, the demand on the finance function to supply highly responsive, interactive, and flexible business analysis to decision-makers is likely to increase. Even more respondents (93%) expected the demand for ad-hoc decision support and analysis to increase, and nearly the same number (94%) agreed that improving the ability to conduct highly sophisticated, predictive business analysis (e.g., scenario planning, “what-if” analysis, risk modeling) would yield substantial, measurable financial benefit to their company.

But 90% of them also say that, to maximize the measureable financial benefit of financial planning and business analysis, the finance function needs to spend less time on simply moving the data around—that is, spending time, attention, and resources on manually migrating and reconciling data from system to system.

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Their primary obstacle seems clear—a lack of integration between IT systems for financial planning and the company’s ERP system. North American respondents report the lowest level of integration of any region, and in fact, 38% of executives from North America say that their systems are only loosely integrated (20%) or not integrated at all (18%). They also take longer than their peers from other regions to respond to ad-hoc requests for business analysis, with more than half (58%) saying it takes them up to a day or more.

The result? Less than a third (31%) of North American finance executives in the survey believe that their IT systems for financial planning currently can make a substantial contribution to finance’s ability to support decision making. With practically every one of the North American respondents (96%) agreeing that pressure is increasing on the finance function to improve its contribution to high-value planning, analysis, and decision-support, the current technology gap threatens to become a chasm.

Read the full report here:

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About This Study

In May 2015, CFO Research, in collaboration with SAP, conducted a global survey of senior finance executives to gain a better understanding of how leading-edge financial planning and business analysis capabilities can support effective decision making. We collected 335 responses from large companies with at least US$500 million in revenues, representing a broad range of industries. We received 20% of our total responses from North America (U.S. and Canada), 25% from Latin America (Mexico, Central America, and South America), 24% from the Asia/Pacific region (including India and Australia), and 30% from Europe.

Sponsor’s Statement

As a leader in enterprise performance management, SAP provides the necessary tools to assist the office of the CFO.  By providing integrated solutions for financial planning and analysis, SAP offers real-time financial insights into the enterprise. For more information, please visit

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