Features, Insight, Opinion

To navigate uncertainty in 2023, here are five ways UAE organisations can improve FP&A

Written by a team member at Jedox – an Enterprise Performance Management software

As firms in the UAE negotiate current geopolitical instabilities, global inflation and supply chain difficulties, the need for meticulous, regular, synchronised financial planning and analysis (FP&A) has never been greater. FP&A’s role is expanding to encompass a cross-functional, comprehensive view of the business and it is now a key driver for tackling today’s business challenges and helping businesses keep pace with change.

Let’s take a look at five trends that can help companies in the UAE and around the world maximise the value of their FP&A activities and keep business on track in the year ahead.

  1. Increasing adaptability

In today’s ever-evolving economic environment, FP&A professionals should aim for an improved ability to adapt quickly and smoothly, increasing business stability and resilience. This aim must be supported by technology, with companies that have invested in digital transformation and embraced upskilling now finding it easier to flex and adapt to the changing environment. Businesses can improve agility by running more regular financial forecasts, bringing external data into play, modelling many different scenarios and, vitally, ensuring that the FP&A teams work more closely with other business stakeholders.

  1. Incorporating integrated business planning

Robust planning is the foundation of business success, and the most successful companies are now embracing integrated business planning (IBP). This replaces multiple isolated systems and manual data pulled from various areas of the business with a cross-functional planning solution that enables informed, smart, and rapid decision-making.

No longer just about finance, FP&A today incorporates real-time data from across the business, increasing collaboration between teams. And when geopolitical forces drive companies to quickly adapt their strategies, update forecasts and run multiple scenarios, IBP enables better collaboration and more realistic results that companies can rely on. This in turn reduces the risk of expensive and challenging surprises, providing clarity to enable smarter decision-making.

  1. Turning to artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) may sound futuristic, but it’s already part of most people’s day-to-day lives, playing a role in everything from personalising our online shopping and social media, to removing spam from our inboxes. The Business Application Research Centre (BARC) recently reported that, from 2020 to 2022, productive use of predictive planning and forecasting tech for corporate planning had risen exponentially – from 4% to 27% in just two years.

The technology behind AI has matured into a robust and stable platform, so it’s the ideal time to integrate it into your business, if you haven’t already. Today’s business leaders and investors require real-time, complex data and insights – and AI can support CFOs in meeting this demand. Decisions must more than ever be backed by data in uncertain times such as these – and AI can support accuracy of forecasts, leading to higher investment confidence and better business decisions.

  1. Attracting and retaining talent through tech

As with many companies around the globe, talent attraction and retention is a major challenge for UAE-based firms in the current climate. So it might not come as a surprise that a recent EY CFO Roundtable found that up to one in five CFOs is focused on workforce and talent retention. In today’s extremely competitive market, technology can be a way to stand out from the crowd.

Companies that invest in the latest technology can find it both easier to attract great new talent and at the same time retain good people. Employees place a great amount of value on learning new skills, according to a LinkedIn survey, so savvy companies may find that utilising the latest tech will keep employees happy as it helps them develop professionally, while also making their jobs better and easier. Many finance professionals aspire to develop and become leaders of the future, and to do this they need to work with progressive tech such as advanced FP&A solutions.

  1. Improving collaboration between FP&A teams and the business

For firms to leverage the strategic value that FP&A professionals can add, FP&A must be integrated across the business rather than sit as an isolated function. Particularly now, as enterprises throughout the UAE face market uncertainty, there is a pressing need for closer collaboration between FP&A teams and the wider business. It’s important that FP&A teams act as strategic advisors to business leaders, supporting agile, frequent, and accurate forecasting and planning in today’s challenging environment. Evolving from a separated, discrete function to an integrated and vital part of the business is not only strategically highly valuable, but also provides a satisfying and fulfilling environment for the team to work in.

An increased influence of FP&A

In the current tricky geopolitical climate, integrating your financial planning and analysis across the business and increasing its sphere of influence across the company will improve business planning and forecasting and help your business to thrive. Considering the five aspects discussed above will help enterprises throughout the UAE to streamline planning processes and adapt rapidly to changing environments.

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