Back to school & FP&A…. how do these two things connect you might ask?  

Well, let’s break it down.  

Imagine you have two families, let’s call them really unique names… The Jetsons & The Flintstones.  

You see, the Jetsons live in the future, literally. They are advocates about utilizing the systems & technology available in their time to enhance their lives.  

The Flintstones on the other hand, are stuck in the dark ages. They still operate using blackboards, spreadsheets & siloed data sets. Wait. We are getting ahead of ourselves. They are stuck “in the ways they have always done it”, we will just say that.  

When it comes to back-to-school planning, both families have their own styles:  

The Jetsons use the cloud,(and actually live up in the clouds) and they have a “single source of truth” called The Back To School xP&A Model.  

They all are diligent about adding data such as school supplies, groceries, after school activities, parent schedules, classes & all other pertinent information they might have available at that time. The Jetsons use this information and forecast an optimal plan to gather supplies, drop kids off, make meals & overall, make their lives a lot simpler & stress free.  They have automated a lot of what they do.   

The Flintstones on the other hand all have their own way of planning and they unfortunately don’t communicate with each other effectively. Fred likes to remember things in his head, that way, he has complete control over his information and his duties are “safeguarded” in the family. Wilma likes to write things down on post-it-rocks and keep them in her purse, this way she can always refer back to them and never lose anything.  

What ends up happening with the Flintstones is Fred and Wilma both buy the same school supplies, Fred couldn’t remember if he was supposed to buy school supplies, and Wilma wrote down that Fred was going to buy groceries. On the first day of school, no one showed up to pick up the kids as Wilma lost her post-it-rock saying it was her turn to pick them up. Unfortunately, there was also no dinner ready as no one picked up groceries.  

You see, without a strong unified system in place, and too much reliance on “tribal knowledge” the family had a very poor experience with “back to school”. On the other hand, the culture in the Jetsons family is extremely collaborative, they communicate and have a single source of truth that the whole family can rely on to get the information they need when they need it. 

In business, both types of organizations exist. If your enterprise has a culture of technology, you utilize process and communication between departments to plan and forecast then you are probably aligned to the Jetsons. If however, you are constantly chasing data and fixing spreadsheet errors in order to complete month end, chances are, you are still stuck in the excel way of life and are leaving a lot on the table.

How does your organization enhance existing FP&A methods to follow a single source of truth? 


Written By Mitch Weir

Mitch is a Strategic Advisor at ActionKPI. On a day-to-day basis he helps our team and our client’s drive more profitable activities in their business, freeing finance from the shackles of Excel Hell and helping them navigate the complex integrated business planning journey with a proven robust framework. He aims to help others avoid these challenges, so if you’re always asking “Is there a better way, and can it be easier?” Please send him any questions you have.