What Is FP&A?
Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) is the bridge between your accounting function and your business strategy. FP&A delivers insights from accounting, finance, and operations. These insights give management teams the edge to stay ahead, be agile, and adjust operations and resources on the fly. So, if that all feels too “corporate” for your startup or small business, think of FP&A as the next step in analyzing your financial outputs to measure yourself against your plan.
Whatever words you like to use, FP&A helps business owners understand and analyze their finances and adds operational performance to the mix by bringing things like sales numbers, service numbers, shipment information, people, etc., into the equation.
If there is one thing we saw from the pandemic it is this: Planning is back in vogue. Businesses of all sizes are thinking more about their plans and execution because they were often not spending time on this prior to the economic shutdown and downturn.
How GrowthLab Thinks About FP&A Services
Here at GrowthLab, we break up your financial and strategic value stream into the following “pillars”: Bookkeeping, Controllership, FP&A, CFO/Strategy, and Tax Advisory.
So how does GrowthLab deliver this service? It starts with cadence and then rigor and finally, the right team. We look at it in this order because it is important to set expectations around what is being delivered, when it is being delivered, and lastly, by whom it is being delivered so that you, the customer, know what you are buying month in, month out. Just like in the world of bookkeeping and accounting, in order for FP&A to provide value, we at GrowthLab need to provide constant and consistent deliverables to you.
We also know that each company is unique. However, we seek to provide standard services across our unique customer base. Standardizing services drives value to customers. With standard services, we drive value in two ways: First, it prescriptively provides customers with a roadmap of where and how to focus; second, we can keep our costs down and pass that value on to our customers.
To standardize a complex value stream, we start with the Annual Strategic Business Cycle as the standard “roadmap” of services. Then we seek to help customers understand which parts of that map they need to tackle, after which we link them up with the standard services that our team can provide monthly. This takes us to the other side of our people business: our team!
Annual Strategic Business Cycle
We’ve built a diverse team of accountants, analysts, and CFOs who can meet our customers where they are and help them get to the next stage. This doesn’t come easy. We have spent countless hours identifying the right tools to leverage and helping our team grow and learn.
Lastly, let’s not forget the tech stack. This helps us create efficiencies while delivering constant and consistent value effectively.
Why We Use Jirav
Early on in the GrowthLab journey, we realized that the key way we will be able to service our customers is through leverage. Leverage of people, leverage of systems, leverage of experience. We often get asked what the difference between FP&A and CFO is. It can be distilled down to experience in its simplistic form. Our approach is leveraging financial analyst time in conjunction with our senior CFOs. This allows the leverage of skill and time, which turns into greater cost effective value for our customers.
One of the fundamental keys to financial planning starts with the financial model: the Annual Operating Plan (AOP) and the Long Range Plan (LRP). It is our approach that a CFO-level individual does not need to build the model from scratch (expensive spreadsheet jockeys), and this is where the analysts come in. Some of the challenges we've found, regardless of approach, is version control, quality control, and corrupt files.
Think about it: How many times have we spent hours searching for the most recent copy of a document? Corrupt files — they are still a thing. Hard coding versus formulas, not to mention formulas not flowing through the entire model, and, of course, formula errors. It becomes a waste of time and can become extremely frustrating. This was the genesis for finding a platform like Jirav.
When initially diving into Jirav and its competitors, we came at it through the lens of leveraging different people in the financial modeling process, both internally and externally. What we have come to appreciate and expand on with Jirav is much more than just the leveraging of people. Jirav continues to prove that it helps to take the guesswork out of financial statements and the headaches and time out of reporting, matching the chart of accounts between the general ledger and your financial planning spreadsheets and reducing the gap in communications.
Jirav is not just a platform to create financial models. Jirav creates an experience for your team and stakeholders to distill financial information. Through all of this, the financial cadence built on Jirav helps growing companies create efficiency, transparency, and leverage throughout their planning process, delinking and de-risking the people factor from the value equation.
Dan is CEO & Co-Founder of GrowthLab, a Finance-as-a-Service (FaaS) company that serves Founders and Management Teams with Financial Planning, Accounting, and CFO support. Dan is the vision and a blue-sky-thinker. He constantly motivates GrowthLab's stellar team to identify innovative ways to deliver great results to their customers.