Strategy Board

Why xP&A is crucial to Financial Planning

Sponsored by Board

Extended Planning & Analytics, a concept familiarized by Gartner, expands the budgeting, planning, and forecasting capabilities to analyze data beyond the finance operating drivers for FP&A professionals.

©NicoElNino/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Many businesses today are unable to keep up with the current state of business disruptions and changing business models. Supply chain shocks restrict global enterprises, financial crises limit companies’ ability to grow, and political instability challenges domestic and international marketplaces. As disruption impacts objectives and operations almost daily, the need to keep plans integrated and aligned across operations, sales, and finance is becoming critically important. 

Global Advisory Firm Gartner® estimates that “through 2024, 30% of FP&A implementations will be extended to support operational finance processes, with 50% requiring a substantial cloud xP&A roadmap from their FP&A vendors.”

So, beyond all the hype – What is xP&A?

xP&A stands for Extended Planning & Analytics, an enterprise planning strategy introduced by Gartner in 2020 that extends the FP&A platform to support financial and operational planning with the same standard capabilities and best practices. xP&A is an early maturity technology trend emerging from financial management applications that will continue to develop over the next decade. The goal of xP&A is to provide a single source of truth across all planning applications by consolidating quality, scalable enterprise planning applications on a single vendor platform.

Why is xP&A needed?

The Finance organization has historically relied on financial measures as the only driver of business performance, limiting its view of planning and analysis and segregating it from other functional areas of the business, which still contribute to profitability. The resulting lack of transparency and shared processes across financial and operational plans has prevented both functions from optimally challenging and improving each other’s assumptions — a necessary step to improve business performance. By expanding planning participation from finance to other operational areas, organizations can continuously adapt to altered business priorities and shifts in strategy.

How is xP&A different from traditional FP&A and other integrated planning processes?

The single platform consolidation represents the most notable distinction between xP&A and previous integrated planning approaches that didn’t require FP&A and operational planning solutions to reside in the same vendor-harmonized environment. Businesses have tried for years to align financial and operational plans with a combination of spreadsheets and manual processes to weave them together.

As data increases and organizations try to keep up with change, sharing and consolidating information at scale has proven increasingly difficult to achieve. Manually assembling data sets and validating their accuracy is too time-consuming to manage and can constrain collaboration and organizational agility when it is most needed. What may have worked in more stable and relatively predictable business environments no longer holds up well in disruptive times.

Finally, why xP&A should be finance-led?

The Finance organization, positioned at crossroads intersecting every business function in the organization, is well-suited to help drive collaborative enterprise-wide planning efforts. Furthermore, Finance teams are deeply involved in determining how businesses adapt to disruptive events; FP&A plays a crucial role in determining an organization’s financial health and resilience by performing budgeting, forecasting, and analysis to support significant business decisions. 

During uncertain times there’s an increased expectation in the ability of the CFO and their respective teams to wield technological advances to intensify their efforts and become more involved in driving and helping coordinate enterprise planning efforts.

There is no better time than now to start evaluating and rationalizing xP&A against existing planning strategies in your organization to identify where it can specifically add value. To learn more about XP&A, download the Gartner® Market Guide for Cloud Extended Planning and Analysis Solutions to explore the benefits of xP&A and get practical recommendations for approaching xP&A software selection.