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The objective of the FP&A team is to create accurate forecasts and reports for every aspect of a company. There are a lot of moving parts to manage, and getting the right data to go into those forecasts requires close collaboration with every individual department.

To create accurate projections of the marketing or sales team’s performance, you’re going to need to know what they’re working on and the performance objectives they’re aiming for.

You need the right quantitative data, i.e., real-time accurate numbers, to complete this process. But you also need good qualitative data. This is the ‘soft’ data and context that moves the FP&A team into the realms of true strategic finance.

But how do you go about gathering all of this information in a systematic way? Enter: the FP&A calendar. This tool can help FP&A teams ensure they’re fostering collaborative partnerships with every department in the business and delivering information and forecasts to executives to improve their decision-making.

Table of Contents

What is an FP&A Calendar?

An FP&A calendar outlines a broad timeline of all of the tasks and activities that the FP&A  team needs to complete over the course of a typical month or quarter. It’s a valuable document for FP&A teams to have, making sure that they complete all their tasks, ensuring consistency in the work from month to month, and improving cross-departmental relationships with improved communication.

There are so many aspects to FP&A that it can be easy to miss items or leave them off your agenda if they’re not specifically planned for. It can also be a challenge to keep every department engaged in the finance process, especially if communication feels ad hoc or meetings feel unproductive. Having a defined process and approximate timeline for all FP&A activity keeps everyone informed, improves collaboration, and ensures nothing gets missed.

Here’s an example template of what a monthly calendar might look like:

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
  • Prior month summary reporting to CFO
  • Accounting close review process
  • Compile final reports and KPI dashboards for stakeholders (CFO, Board, department heads)
  • Meet with executives to discuss BvA reports
  • Compile draft forecast based on BvA meetings
  • Report to CFO
  • Finalize forecast
  • Review long-term strategic and operating plan
  • Review working capital
  • Flex time to be allocated for ad hoc projects, department check-ins, and collaboration opportunities
  • Sales close estimates
  • Estimate accrual entries
  • Reforecasting and scenario planning

Design Your FP&A Calendar in 6 Steps

This template isn’t one size fits all. We recently spoke to Brian Weisberg, Head of Finance and Business Operations at Tidelift, on an episode of our podcast, and he gave an excellent overview of how finance teams need to think when building their FP&A calendar.

“Say you’re on a soccer team. The captain is responsible for making sure everybody is on the same page, driving the conversations, and understanding what’s going on.

And that’s where the narrative, the executive summary, and the pros are super helpful because not everybody thinks of things like spreadsheets. If you put a spreadsheet in front of the VP of Sales, they’re going to be, ‘What the heck is this?’ Have that conversation around trying to get those earned secrets out of your leaders, [so that] they truly know what’s going on in each of their functions.”

Here are the key steps to designing an FP&A calendar that aligns with your business:

1. Define Your Financial Goals

As the saying goes, “What gets measured, gets managed.” Before creating the calendar, you need to define the key objectives for your CFO and other executives in the business. This ensures that you set the calendar up to gather the data that’s really going to move the needle for the company, building an FP&A framework from which everything else flows.

2. Gather and Integrate Financial Data

With the core objectives and key metrics identified, you now need to gather the baseline data, which will serve as the basis for your initial reporting and forecasting. When you’re reporting on financial performance, even for the first time at a new company, you need to be able to add context to the data. This highlights the value of FP&A right away, helping to get buy-in for the regular cadence in the FP&A calendar.

3. Establish Key Financial Milestones and Deadlines

While the regular plan is important, FP&A teams need to build it around the key dates through the fiscal year. The CFO, CEO, or other executives may need certain reports or forecasts in the lead-up to events like the end of the fiscal year or specific board meetings, which aren’t generally required at any other time.

There could also be a specific strategic focus at different times of the year. For example, Q1 may be focused on planning operations for the coming year, while Q3 may be the time to look at long-term planning.

It’s important to build these into your calendar in addition to the regular updates and touchpoints that remain the same from month to month.

4. Align the Calendar With Business Cycles

Within the overall structure of the FP&A calendar there needs to be flexibility based on the business cycle. For example, during expansionary periods, there may be a need for greater focus on project tracking to monitor the release of new products or features.

When the cycle slows, headcount management becomes more important as a way of managing operating expenses. Having an understanding of the broad strategic position of the business can help ensure the FP&A team is providing executives with the most relevant data. Financial forecasting software can be a major advantage here, with the ability to conduct scenario plans based on different macroeconomic outcomes.

5. Implement Regular Reviews and Adjustments

As with anything that you do, the calendar isn’t just a one-and-done project. It needs to come under consistent review, and teams need to source feedback on the data and information they provide.

Were the actual results from the previous month-end close completed quickly enough to plan effectively for the next month? Is the CFO getting sufficient context from the BvA reports? There should be open lines of communication between all stakeholders to constantly improve the FP&A calendar, with that feedback built into the calendar.

6. Communicate and Collaborate Across Departments

From that feedback needs to come action. Again, that comes down to communication and collaboration, with the FP&A team keeping departments informed on the information they need and when they need it in order to make the forecasts and reports as accurate and valuable as possible.

It’s those feedback loops that not only improve the quality of FP&A modeling and reports, but increase alignment with the process from all other areas of the business.

Enhancing Communication and Reporting in Your FP&A Calendar

The FP&A calendar is a fantastic tool for facilitating communication across the organization, which in turn helps improve reporting. It’s worth having some specific strategies in place to enhance team communication, rather than just noting it as a general ‘to-do’ item.

In a recent podcast with Temi Vasco, Controller at Gem, we discussed the removal of silos in the workplace, and Temi shared some of her strategies for consistent cross-departmental communication.

Strategies for Clear Communication in FP&A Processes

Temi’s preference for clear communication, especially between the accounting team and finance departments, is to keep the lines of communication open constantly. Meeting fatigue has become a real issue, and using tools like Slack to have regular, open discussions can help break down silos without building in too much unproductive time spent in a meeting room.

Of course, this won’t necessarily work for everyone, and meetings are sometimes necessary. For those times, Temi says, the key point is ensuring there’s a clear agenda and action plan for the meeting.

“My thing is I want an action list. I want, “What are we doing after this?” Right. When we leave, we should know who’s doing what, when, and the timeline for that. And, in the past I’ve been burned with this sloppy meeting rigor. So, when we do meet, it’s typically productive, we’ve worked through it.”

Reporting Best Practices: Make Data Accessible and Actionable

As mentioned by Brian Weisburg, the key is to ensure you’re speaking the language of the intended audience. The way you present data will be very different if it’s for the CFO, as opposed to the VP of Marketing, the Board, or investors.

In short, FP&A best practices when it comes to reporting include:

  • Tailor your reporting to your intended audience
  • Don’t just report on the numbers, add context on why they look the way they do
  • Build trend analysis into your reporting, showing how the data has changed over time and strategies that are being implemented to improve the trend line
  • Conduct regular reforecasting, providing insight on how the forecasts have changed with actual performance from the annual plan

Integrating Mosaic’s Tools for Enhanced FP&A Efficiency

An efficient FP&A process relies on having access to accurate and timely data. That’s a tough ask if you’re running your monthly planning on spreadsheets and the time-consuming, manual processes that come with that.

Mosaic provides access to all of your data in a way that’s simple, user-friendly, and accurate. FP&A efficiency isn’t necessarily about gathering more data, it’s about being able to interact with and review the fundamental data you already have to bring it out in the open.

As Director of FP&A at Qwick, Zack McCarty, puts it, “The biggest thing that surprised me was how basic financial information can lead to valuable change in the company […] And immediately when this was shared, light bulbs went off saying, ‘Hey, we should probably change the referral program a bit.”

Leveraging Real-Time Data for Accurate Forecasting

One of the key themes in our 2024 Financial Planning Blueprint is the importance of rolling forecasts, budget reforecasting, and scenario planning. The challenging economic environment means a renewed focus on zero-based budgeting, balancing growth and profitability, and allocating resources to high ROI channels.

In order to do this effectively, forecasting needs to be more dynamic and agile than ever, and real-time data is a necessary component. There’s no point in reforecasting if the data you’re using is out of date.

Mosaic cuts down time spent on data aggregation by up to 70%, giving FP&A teams the ability to see cashflow in real time, create automated variance analysis and on-demand financial reports. Request a demo to see Mosaic in action.

FP&A Calendar FAQs

What are the key components of an effective FP&A calendar?

An effective FP&A calendar needs the key components of the reporting process from the prior period and forecasting into the future. The specifics that are built into the calendar are all centered around making those two fundamental pillars as accurate as possible.

How often should the FP&A calendar be updated?

Can the FP&A calendar be customized for different business sizes?

How does technology enhance the FP&A calendar process?

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