Performing financial planning & analysis (FP&A) is not always easy. However, keeping the following principles in mind can help make it easier and serve as a great first step towards achieving your goals and safeguarding your business’s financial health.
What is FP&A? FP&A stands for financial planning & analysis. It is the subset of the finance function that connects the strategic direction of the leadership team of a business with its available financial resources.
The beauty of this business model lies in its ability to provide continuous financial analysis and monitor business performance against key metrics without manual updates, as is often the case with budgeting.
In the financial planning process, companies need to develop a financial forecast with accuracy, relevance, and timeliness to ensure the achievement of the strategic objectives and lower the risk of failure. However, at scale-ups and growing companies, building the FP&A process can sometimes be directionless and unorganized. Without an FP&A manager on the job, it can be difficult to conduct accurate financial modeling and build a business’s revenue forecast.
To help SaaS FP&A teams conduct this deep data analysis that is required, here are six key principles that can serve as a guide. Only once the executive team and department leaders are aligned with their goals, Finance can then move forward with financial modeling and forecasting to make stronger strategic decisions.
1. Connect your strategy to the financial planning
The purpose of FP&A is to lead a business to more informed decisions and optimized performance. By having a more accurate forecast, the CFO and other senior management professionals can then make better strategic decisions for the company. Hence why, before trying to transform FP&A, SaaS finance teams need to have a clearly defined business strategy and then align the FP&A strategy with it.
It is also vital to define the goals of FP&A as clearly as possible to help the team have a clear path and motivate them.
2. Analyze strategy in terms of actionable plans
There is a need to promote a culture of using financial metrics at all levels of the organization. It is difficult to track and measure the performance of the operations without seeing clear, well-established key performance metrics on the financial dashboard.
Setting periodic targets and measuring success against targets’ achievement can help connect the actionable plans with the financial resources.
3. Establish short- & long-term business drivers
Once action plans are linked with financial resources, the focus should be placed on the drivers that exhaust resources or increase the cost of the company’s operations. But, there must be a direct correlation between the driver and the financial impact on the logical ground.
The right level of detail, speed, flexibility, and mathematical complexity should lead to a system of drivers that ensure financial forecast accuracy for the CFO and senior management.
4. Develop what-if scenarios with the help of technology
Technological advancement, like financial planning tools, enables finance teams to understand the extent of the outcome when changing inputs on the system. It also helps business managers decide to take into account the outcome in the best and worst situations.
In addition, FP&A software helps broaden the decision-makers’s thinking spectrum while assessing risk and relative rewards.
Is your team looking for FP&A software that can help with financial modeling and forecasting?
Request a demo today to see how Abacum can level up your FP&A strategy.
5. Mitigate uncertainty from the process
By reducing the uncertainty from the process of SaaS forecasting, businesses can turn possible into probable. And what it takes to make financial outcomes probable is extensive testing through what-if analysis.
What-if analysis helps to understand with what frequency certain key factors that impact the business should be reviewed to bring an element of certainty within the forecasting process. That is why it is so important to create financial models that can be adapted and created with complete accuracy, allowing finance professionals to do more analysis and less manual tasks.
6. Develop forecasting & keep it rolling
We live in a dynamic world where everything is changing continuously. We experience changes in the external environment, changes in the trade tariff, the cost of commodities, the rate of taxation, the inflation rate, etc.
So, why not keep space for potential changes in the developed forecast?
A rolling forecast is a great tool because it helps to overcome some of the weaknesses of the traditional budget. Plus, it also supports scenario planning, providing finance professionals with the metrics they need to prepare for any situation.
Specifically, the rolling forecast involves an adjustment of forecasts and resource allocation every month or quarter based on what is actually happening in the company. It provides managers with a timely view into the following period whenever they need it.
How can Abacum help?
By implementing these key practices in your SaaS FP&A team, you will clearly see an improvement not only in your results but also in the team’s response to sudden changes. However, it is important to keep in mind that this forecast flexibility requires extensive integration and automation to respond to external market factors quickly.
Through our automation features, you can eliminate manual tasks such as pulling data from your ERP, BI, and CRM systems and having to manually transform data into sensible numbers. The platform is also collaborative meaning you don’t need to switch over to email or Slack to have a conversation with budget owners.
Great financial planning doesn’t need to be solely a benefit for “mature” companies.
With Abacum, we empower finance teams of high-growth tech companies to become true strategic partners in the organization by driving time-to-insight with powerful automation and seamless collaboration.
Request a demo now to see the product live and start your transformational journey.
Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) is the practice of using financial data to make strategic business decisions. It includes a range of activities, such as budgeting, forecasting, risk management, and financial modeling. FP&A helps businesses evaluate their financial performance to identify opportunities or potential issues and plan for the future. By providing an understanding of how investments may impact future cash flow, FP&A helps senior leadership make informed decisions in a fraction of the time.
Finance and FP&A (financial planning and analysis) are closely related disciplines, but there are some key differences. Traditional finance is the broader practice of managing money, including budgeting, forecasting, accounting, and auditing. FP&A is a subset of finance that focuses on providing forward-looking financial insights on a regular basis to inform business decisions. FP&A teams use their expertise to create financial models which help to forecast the financial implications of various business decisions.
Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) is a strategic finance function that helps businesses optimize their financial performance to position themselves as market leaders over a period of time. It involves forecasting, budgeting, and analyzing the company’s actual performance to identify opportunities for improvement.
The main activities of FP&A include:
- Financial Forecasting & Modeling: FP&A teams use historical data and industry trends to build models that help to forecast future financial performance.
- Budgeting & Cost Control: FP&A teams create and monitor budgets to ensure that resources are efficiently allocated across the company.
- Strategic Planning & Initiatives: FP&A teams use their analysis of market trends and industry insights to develop well-informed strategic initiatives for the business.
- Risk Management: FP&A teams use financial models and analysis to identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate those risks.
- Reporting & Analysis: FP&A teams create reports that provide insights into the company’s current financial performance, as well as its prospects and potential revenue growth.
SaaS (Software as a Service) in Finance is an on-demand software subscription model that provides businesses with access to financial applications and services in a single source of truth. It enables them to manage their finances more efficiently, quickly, and cost-effectively.
SaaS FP&A solutions can help finance leaders save money by reducing upfront costs associated with traditional software purchases, eliminating the need for costly hardware investments, and providing faster deployment times. In addition, SaaS FP&A solutions help finance business partners better manage the complexities of financial reporting, budgeting, and forecasting to gain a greater understanding of their financial performance management in real-time.