UK finance departments admit planning needs improvement

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A survey of UK finance departments finds that more than two in three would like to plan their business investments and expenditure more frequently, but blame inefficiencies and over-complicated systems for getting in the way.

London-based software and solutions provider Accountagility polled 200 UK chief financial officers (CFOs) and finance directors last September. It found most finance departments currently conduct their key planning processes just twice a year on average, with 28% completing their planning cycles just once a year.

The research also found that various challenges with existing systems prevent finance functions from planning as often as they would like. In particular, 56% of CFOs and finance directors agree that the number of spreadsheets being used is an obstacle, along with the volume of data that needs to be managed (51%) and the labour intensity (49%) needed to collect, validate, analyse and report on this information.

These complexities often drain key resources and negatively impact on both the depth and robustness of the resulting plan. The firm suggest that removing the obstacles to more frequent planning – and tapping into more insightful and efficient data – enables finance teams to unlock powerful business intelligence, add value and drive performance more effectively.

“Every company knows that financial planning is essential for commercial success, which is precisely why so much time and money is committed to this area,” said Robert Gothan, chief executive (CEO) and founder of Accountagility. “However, it is not always well invested.

“CFOs are being asked to play an increasingly strategic role in the business, but this is compromised by the amount of manual work involved within their planning processes. This diverts valuable resources from analysing their plans and using this information to generate critical business insight that is crucial to sound governance and future growth.

“More efficient planning will enable finance departments to spend less time working in the process, and more time working on the business. This approach will not only enable finance teams to facilitate better decisions, but also to pursue more effective investments, which will ultimately help the business maintain their competitive edge in the rapidly changing marketplace.”

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