We all want more confidence in our ability to do our jobs. We'll go through years of education and professional training to develop more of this. But what if it's the tools of our trade which can genuinely make a difference to how we perform. This story is about Anthony. He built confidence throughout the business in the numbers, decision making, and his ability in the role, we ask if investment in new finance tools made the difference?
Planning to make your mark
What tools have you inherited?
When starting a new role many of us invest in ourselves be it new shoes to smarten up, or training to stay current. Most FD's, CFO's and finance controllers will walk into their new role wanting to make a difference, and that usually starts with getting a handle on the numbers to view what's coming down the line, gain insight and avoid the pitfalls.
This inevitably means interrogating forecasts and budgeting plans, which will most probably mean time in front of a monster spreadsheet, with help from the Excel jockey who built the model, to understand where and how the the numbers were put together.
have you the Time to shine?
But what if you want to make new assumptions, forecast against different dimensions or find that key data is missing? Re-modelling, gathering information and generating new reports could take weeks or maybe not be possible at all with the resources available. That's when the ability to shine in your new role can be seriously curtailed. More than that, it means the insight and strategic analysis skills you were hired to use will go to waste.
Anthony Ridgewell is the Finance controller of Home Appliance Guard. They are a rapidly growing specialist insurance company. When Anthony joined the business they were acquiring a second company, opening a new site and adding new products to their portfolio. He inherited an Excel model which seemed to do the job until the business owners asked him to model sales per hour, with different product mixes and staffing ratio's - then he realised his 50 tab spreadsheet wasn't fit for purpose.
Anthony and his CFO decided they needed new finance kit, to do the job well and make sure the ambitions of the company weren't limited by their ability to forecast and make good decisions.
Read Anthony's story
Building Confidence in the numbers
CFO's know they need confidence in the numbers to avoid the stomach churning exposure to error or inaccuracies in the boardroom. Finance like to pride themselves on accuracy and the ability to read and compile insight from data - but first the data has to be right and despite your reputation hanging on it this isn't all down to finance!
Data is one piece of the jigsaw that Anthony wanted to fix. Volumes were growing and causing Excel to falter as well as become difficult to manipulate, which raised the concern over accuracy and traceability. The type of data Home Appliance Guard needed to model was also changing. More interrogation into the sales revenue right down to hourly results, as well as HR information and more product mixes were wanted to forecast growth and profitability they way they wanted to.
Their system didn't have the breadth of data and integration capability to pull across a number of ledgers, not to mention the full picture of P&L, Balance sheet and Cash flow which provided Anthony and the board with a better view of the peaks and troughs.
So a decision was made to invest in a system that could do all this. They chose Adaptive Insights because it was easy to use, powerful and fast to implement.
Rock the Boardroom
After their move to Adaptive Insights Anthony ran a strategic planning session. Instead of dreading the question 'where did that number come from' or 'are you sure that's right?' Anthony could drill down to the detail to show where and how the number had been compiled.
When the business owners asked 'WHAT IF' Anthony and his CFO could build multiple new scenarios on the fly and model new assumptions across many dimensions be they sales, HR, product mix or time, all in minutes. This gave the board the power to make informed decisions rather than educated guesses.
With new scenarios made in less than 10 minutes, Anthony could answer questions fast. The right tool was a big part of that, but it was also the freedom it gave the business to explore ideas, interrogate results and get reliable answers.
The right kit meant for Anthony and others, there was more time thinking and analysing, rather than defending and reconciling. This helped to redefine his role and how he was perceived in it. There are always hours of compiling and checking the numbers in finance, but the balance for Anthony has shifted to being more strategic communicator than backroom number cruncher, with the help of having the right tool.
Did cloud planning make Anthony better at his job? Arguably no - it gave him the means to be better at his job, but more than that, the payback was in better decisions for the company.
Most calculate the cost of doing, rather than the cost of not doing. Anthony did the opposite.
He told us that the cost of buying a solution like Adaptive insights and having it implemented meant they avoided the need to hire an analyst, whilst revenue forecasting time was reduced by 50%. That's before using it in a full budget cycle.
If you are spending too much time compiling information and not enough time using it to drive decisions then it's time to invest. The truth is, whilst you have the skills to do the analysis and thinking you probably don't have the time with your current system. So the biggest career move you could make is getting the right kit to do your job well - As Anthony discovered the businesses will love you for it.