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3 Lessons Finance Teams Can Learn From a Children’s Book

Family Reading Bedtime. Mom And Child Reading Book With A Flashl

As an avid book reader and mom, I’ve read a lot of children’s books to my daughters. Today, long after my girls have outgrown them, I still find myself picking up these books for casual reading. Interestingly, many of these stories should resonate with us as adults too. One such book and my favorite, Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt, is about a risk-averse rodent that would rather stay in his safe and familiar tree than risk venturing into an unknown, possibly scary new place.

Many professionals may be more familiar with the mice from Spencer Johnson’s business fable about change, Who Moved My Cheese?, but the simplicity of this illustrated book about a squirrel highlights how we humans also tend to prefer the assurance and comfort of a known environment—naturally assuming the new and unknown must be worse.
When Scaredy Squirrel falls out of the nut tree one day, it turns out to be an eye-opening experience. He not only realizes his fears are unfounded, but he also uncovers a place filled with new, exciting things. To his surprise, Scaredy Squirrel discovers that opening up to a new world changes his life for the better from that day forward.
As finance professionals today, many of us are facing change. Living each day in an Excel “nut tree” may be comforting and familiar, but it is preventing you and your business from maximizing efficiencies and fully capitalizing on the next great market opportunity. So how do you venture out and discover the world of modern finance, and the new technologies that bring positive change? Here are three steps to help you climb out of your personal nut tree.

1. Don’t wait until you fall out of the tree.

Modernizing is necessary to maintaining a competitive advantage, meaning it’s no longer just a back-office initiative. According to more than 325 global CFOs surveyed as part of our Q2 2015 CFO Indicator report, more than 50% of finance chiefs plan to increase their investment in modern financial technology within the next year. Lengthy and error-prone data gathering and reconciliation processes take away the finance team’s time that could otherwise be spent performing valuable analysis and delivering insights. Without a data-driven, decision-making framework, businesses suffer from lack of insight into cause and effect, and struggle to make informed business decisions.

2. Make small innovations part of your daily routine.

Making a change doesn’t have to be drastic. Small, continuous improvements can still deliver incremental benefits. According to an Accenture study, companies that successfully addressed their planning and forecasting issues saw an average share price growth of 116% over three years, 221% over five years, and 373% over 10 years . The best place to start? Automate your financial consolidation process and eliminate those hours spent manually gathering raw numbers—no more wasting valuable skilled resources that could be used elsewhere. Once you have an automatically updated data source that is reliable and error-free, you can move higher along the maturity curve and implement rolling forecasts and what-if scenario modeling.

3. Uncover the possibilities.

From low cost of ownership to integrated planning and reporting for closed loop planning, innovations in finance technology have created new opportunities to do more with less.  According to Gartner, 81% of CFO’s see the cloud as a future of their applications.  For many reasons including ‘ease of access’ the cloud enables decision makers to quickly get the information they want and make the timely decisions needed at anytime, anywhere.

Do you want to know about what else exists outside the finance “nut tree”? Join us for a chat with Adaptive Insights Founder and Chairman, and former CFO, Rob Hull, on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 10 am PST. This session will cover the quintessential rules of modern FP&A, leaving you with an actionable road map to increase business engagement, deliver trustworthy results and increase profitability.

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