FP&A Change Management – How to Drive Analytical Transformation
Many FP&A professionals are no longer speculating about the future and imagining what could be possible one day.
Now that we are no longer in a period of early adoption making a case for your organization in investing and rolling out tools with proven ROIs and step-by-step instructions is a winning bet. Instead, we must step forward to bring powerful game-changing technologies, tools, and methodologies into our organization.
Take the lead
Being handed the leadership reins to roll out a business intelligence or planning tool may feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. The first step in getting comfortable with the project is to become comfortable with yourself to put a great plan together and lead others through it to completion.
As a leader, you must identify the vision, resources, timeline, risks/opportunities, and gather cross-functional support to begin implementing the project.
It’s better to spend more time preparing than fixing mistakes later on. If you don’t have much project or people leadership training, spend a weekend reading about change management best practices or take a course.
Fig1. Digital Transformation
Before the new analytical tool is touched, you should lead a small team to investigate and assess the quality of the organization’s data, identifying opportunities and risks along the way. Putting structure and resources into improving how data is captured and processed will pay dividends many times over later in the project.
Ensuring you have a plan and roadmap to ensure the vision, skills, incentives, resources, and action plan is determined, realistic, and actionable will add value and accelerate your change management journey.
Fig2. Model for Managing Complex Change
Once you have completed the prep work, you can advance to the first step in your analytical transformation.
Perform a data quality assessment
For FP&A, there are typically four questions that must be understood to drive transformation- these can be seen in the image below, with a data assessment being first and foremost.
Fig.3. Four Pillars Driving Transformation
As many finance professionals know, data and process quality is paramount to successfully rolling out any analytical tool. Your team and project should develop and carry out a plan to assess the data’s quality level and develop a plan to fix issues to improve data quality over time.
Self-train in small team groups
Once high-quality data is available, it is time to identify and incorporate the right analytical tool(s) for your organization and then begin training. You can find volunteers or else volunteer those with potential who can quickly learn and benefit from using a new analytical tool.
As a new tool is introduced, it is wise to communicate the vision and plan to be executed by defining who will do what and by when. From there, trust your teams to determine the “how” and manage the training on their terms. Building a small group of internal experts will supercharge overall buy-in, as these folks will push others to help see the fruits of their labor and time invested.
Even more, by creating a strong internal technical knowledge base, your organization can reduce implementation costs, which make many leaders nervous, and accelerate the speed of the tool’s design, testing, and implementation.
Score small but meaningful, visible wins
The next step in your analytical transformation is to identify a small but meaningful use case where the new tool can be applied to solve a problem with a clear and measurable impact.
A small win reduces risks and further drives buy-in. Once people see and hear about the first implementation’s success and understand how the tool benefits the organization, other teams will ask to have their functional areas incorporated into the change.
A great tip to remember is to look at the effects on both people and processes further down the line.
You’d be surprised by how much a small change can affect, but many people don’t think about how it will affect things further down the line. Your communication plan, tasks, and next steps will be based on your analysis of the downstream effects, which will help you set priorities to lessen the impact.
Take the time to think about and write down who will be affected by the change and what processes will be changed. Make a complete list of the most influential people and the internal processes that will be affected. Have preliminary talks with the people who matter to find out if there are any unknown effects further down the line.
Driving Analytical Transformation – Conclusion
Now that you have ensured high-quality data, have proven the value of a new analytical tool, and have built a team of passionate internal experts, you are well-positioned to advance the project further.
With a successful pilot implementation completed, you can continue to progress on your change management plan and use the new tools to help everyone in the organization collaborate better.
As a last word of advice, ensure you check in with your team and the people who matter most after making changes. This is a great chance to see what we’ve learned and where there are gaps. Ask for feedback not just on the change itself but also on how it is being made. The follow-up will help get people on board with the following small change and accelerate the project’s momentum.
Extended Planning and Analysis (xP&A) is a new era of continuous enterprise financial and operational planning. Read this FP&A Trends paper for insights and recommendations on how to get started.
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