Pot of coins with a plant growing out of it.

How to Make an FP&A Mindset Part of Your Company DNA

June 16, 2020 Evan Webster  
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When Vena’s Meg Bowie hosted a panel of Vena customers and FP&A veterans, she expected to learn about the evolution of finance and the processes it manages. Instead, what she learned from MasterCorp’s Holly SnyderSantee Cooper’s Andrea Williams as well as Chrstine Sawyer from the American College of Health Executives went much further, illustrating how injecting FP&A thinking across departments led to transformational changes throughout their organizations. 

Join Meg as she hosts an intimate, interactive panel discussion with Holly, Andrea and Christine in their panel discussion, How to Make FP&A Part of Your Company DNA. Visit plantogrow.com for a wealth of on-demand, CPE-accredited videos offered as an educational platform for financial and operations leaders alike. 

What Does an FP&A Mindset Mean?

Screenshot from a Vena Nation 2020 presentation featuring Meg Bowie, Andrea Williams, Christine Sawyer and Holly Snyder.

As the panel discussion illustrates, FP&A is more than a finance function but a way of thinking. It means finance-led planning that incorporates data from far beyond finance to chart the best future for your organization. It means a way of approaching business-wide planning that includes:

  • Engaging non-finance business unit managers and end users early and often throughout the planning process.
  • Going beyond core financials to analyze cross-departmental data for a holistic picture of where the organization stands today…and how to plan for the best future moving forward.
  • Digging behind summary financials to tell the full story behind your business performance today, and uncovering insights into how to plan for the best possible future.

FP&A DNA: Firsthand Accounts

Andrea Williams from Santee Cooper shows how putting off the move to modern FP&A solutions can mean costly consequences. How traditional—often unsupported—legacy FP&A software left her finance and executive teams with summary data on the health of the organization—but not how to best move forward, or why to make the decisions they needed to. 

“We were using software that had become obsolete and unsupported. So, the longer you run a software that’s unsupported, the greater the risk. For us, it was time to mitigate that risk and make that change.” — Andrea Williams

Christina Sawyer from the American College of Healthcare Executives goes a step further. She explains in detail how it’s not only technology that transforms your FP&A, but how you engage and energize your management colleagues in the planning process. It’s guiding principles, such as transparency and providing business partners with self-serve tools, that make for more engaged planning partners and a better planning process as a result. 

“It gives us a lot more visibility to what’s going on and when, which I think is phenomenal. Our contributors or end users are very happy with the on-demand nature of getting at the data, where before they had to wait for the monthly financials to be published.” — Chrstina Sawyer

MasterCorp’s Holly Snyder explains how, especially as a high-growth company, she put the transparency and tools that Andrea and Christina spoke of into action at MasterCorp. How she adopted a modern, full-spectrum FP&A solution (in this case, Vena) and creative training and implementation methods with results including:

  • Using centralized, pre-populated templates to structure and streamline budgeting and planning processes—with accurate numbers and the audit trails to back them up.
  • Running Finance 101 and Budgeting 101 courses in part to show her non-finance contributors how and why better participation on their part spells better budgets—and better business as a result.
  • Performing a most-mortem after every budget improved the process and identified operational KPIs—e.g. payroll metrics, year-over-year change—at least as instructive about the future of MasterCorp’s business as traditional, core financials.

“We are an ever-changing, fast-paced company in growth mode…Vena [has offered us] an efficient way of reporting data, streamlining processes and operating with a lean financial staff—which means a huge savings to our company and the ability to move us to the next step and next direction within finance.” — Holly Snyder

In Summary: Why FP&A Means Far More than Finance

FP&A is a mindset that extends well beyond finance—ideally across every department involved in your integrated planning efforts, even more so when that process is finance-led. Join Meg and her panel to hear firsthand accounts of the value of using company-wide data to inform your planning decisions, engaging LOB managers early and often throughout the planning process, and providing transparency for everyone from executives to department managers.

Watch Meg, Christine, Holly and Andrea’s full panel discussion at plantogrow.com for additional takeaways including:

  • Why to involve non-finance managers, end users and other stakeholders often and early in the planning process, not only for more holistic planning but also so they’re more invested in the success of FP&A in the process.
  • The roles, skills and backgrounds of non-finance contributors to take into account when building new planning processes, selecting new technologies, deploying training and documentation and more.
  • Remembering that planning is an iterative process and the importance of soliciting feedback from everyone involved to improve it with every iteration.
  • Discover through firsthand accounts how injecting an FP&A mindset can lead directly to transformative, positive change for your team and organization as a whole.
  • The value of self-serve reporting in putting insights, reporting, predictive analytics and more in the hands of department managers to drive their own data-driven decisions.

Learn how to make FP&A part of your company DNA today at plantogrow.com.

Thought Leader Bios

Headshot of Meg Bowie, Customer Success Manager at Vena Solutions.Meg Bowie: Manager, Customer Success, Vena Solutions

Meg’s software experience spans a decade with roles from support and training to her current role in customer success management. More than most, she understands the importance of teamwork and active listening in managing the best customer success teams as well as delivering the best possible customer experience for her worldwide customers. 

Headshot of Andrea Williams, Financial Analyst at Santee Cooper.Andrea Williams: Financial Analyst, Santee Cooper

Over a decade in the power sector, Andrea’s roles included accounts payable, inventory and budgeting. Throughout her experiences implementing new finance systems, she has consistently built strong, transparent relationships with all her end users, guided by a mission of making finance faster and more user-friendly for everyone throughout her organizations.

Headshot of Christine Sawyer, Associate Director of Finance and Administration at the American College of Healthcare Executives.Christine Sawyer: Associate Director,  Finance and Administration, American College of Healthcare Executives

Christine has over 25 years of experience in the association field, spanning roles from accounting manager to finance director—and more recently as a business advisor to colleagues outside her organization. She is adept at implementing financial systems, processes and controls to optimize departmental and organizational performance. 

Headshot of Holly Snyder, Director of FP&A at MasterCorp.Holly Snyder: Director, Financial Planning & Analysis, MasterCorp

Holly is a forward-focused finance professional with over 15 years in accounting, budgeting, forecasting, reporting and FP&A. She’s also dealt with multiple country and currency reporting in her global business experiences. Holly is considered a disrupter for consistently applying business analysis and critical-thinking skills to enhance traditional finance processes.

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