May 31, 2019
System Integration: Why You Need to Treat Your FP&A Tool Like a Baseball Lineup
Posted by Octavio Laos
Summer is almost here, and baseball season is in full swing. For me, one of the most fascinating parts of the game is how a manager resets their lineup each day based on a variety of factors.
Who’s hot or who’s injured? Who’s expected to play on the other team? Are you playing in a dome or outside? The overall value of any single player is never measured in a vacuum. Starting the best players on the team seems straightforward enough, but the situation necessarily changes the lineup.
A good manager is ready to change their team not only before a game begins, but mid-game, as well. Likewise, a good finance team leader needs to continuously tweak their planning software to optimize it.
Financial, Planning and Analysis (FP&A) solutions such as Adaptive Insights can create a meteoric shift in how FP&A managers are able to run their business. The ability to quickly pull up key metrics and easily organize your data in one place is a game changer. Continuous reporting is critical not only to reporting and forecasting, but also to driving results. Spending less time planning and more time on executing that plan turns ideas into success stories.
The first and most important item is the age of the data. Any decision maker needs the newest information available, and what is a key differentiator today might be useless tomorrow. But if there is a cumbersome manual upload process for the information, or a less than universal schedule, it is easy to lose faith in some of the statistics.
Like a baseball lineup, however, the details can make all the difference.
Modern ERP systems such as D365, Dynamics GP and Sage Intacct are a wealth of knowledge. But at times, some of their features can almost seem at odds with a separate planning system, and the raw amount of info can be daunting. A system integration between your ERP and planning tools allows you to seamlessly transfer information and spend more time on analysis than collation.
An automatic system integration not only eliminates the time needed to input the data, they eliminate the question of responsibility or timing for data updates. System integration provides a solid foundation and standard for usage across the company.
System integration further allows the more complicated use cases that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. From analysis across several levels of data, to advanced ability to write back from the financial, planning and analysis tool to your ERP, system integration can ensure you’re using your system to its fullest capability.
Even if a base level of manual upload is allowing you to use your planning tool, you likely aren’t populating every nook and cranny that will give the complete picture. Failing to integrate completely into a system is tantamount to giving away surplus, and it’s also a source of pain for users.
Often, employees’ frustration with a system isn’t linked to a deficiency in the system itself as much as it’s linked to a need for an adjustment of the usage of the tool. Reporting only on top level data misses key insights that can be gained by breaking down organization structure and transactional information.
There also can be a tendency to think of a system integration going live as the final stage of a project. But just like a manager has to keep rearranging the players on a roster, ongoing tweaking of your planning system is crucial. Unless you have a fully integrated tool, there are going to be deficiencies stopping you from managing effectively and making the necessary changes. So consider whether an integration solution can help you maximize the effectiveness of your planning software. After all, every manager gets 162 games, but not everyone makes it to November.
Octavio is a manager in the consulting department, where he specializes in business systems integrations and software development. He has broad experience helping clients navigate growth through legal and technical challenges. He focuses on building out new and successful software tools that don’t simply displace inefficiency from one system to the next, but create real value.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from UC Davis, and a J.D. from UCLA, and he is a member of the California State Bar Association.