Finance Service Management – referred to as FSM – is how finance teams manage the end-to-end delivery of services to their business partners. Finance teams oversee critical business activities such as hiring, purchasing, budgeting, forecasting, and financial analysis. These activities are essential to maintaining the financial health of the business. 

Finance Service Management is the scope of work performed by people, processes, and systems to satisfy the financial needs and requests coming from the business. It drives efficiency in operations, promotes collaboration between finance and business partners, and delivers insights and automation across systems. 

FSM enables finance teams to modernize and transform into a collaborative, service-oriented function that puts their business partners first. It shifts the finance perspective from value preservation to value creation, emphasizing supporting decision-makers that drive growth, product development, and more.

The guiding principle for FSM is that finance is most effective when it's empowering and supporting the rest of the company as a trusted partner. The days of finance as a gatekeeper or scorekeeper are behind us – the modern CFO and finance team need to be more like a coach. They provide support and put people in situations to be successful. The best coaches operate with a great system, trust the process, and let the score take care of itself. FSM is the same.

FSM benefits finance well beyond how it works and collaborates with the business. It enables finance to collect better information faster – allowing finance and the business to understand the implications of their decisions at the moment. Coaches make adjustments throughout the game. For the first time, FSM enables finance to do the same. FSM maximizes information to improve and automate routine tasks for FP&A, Accounting, and Procurement. 

An example of this is a software sales agreement. Accounting needs to understand the deal to record it in the accounting system. Procurement needs to track it for vendor and contract management. FP&A needs to forecast the impact into the future. Without FSM, these people and processes don’t talk to each other. With FSM, there are guided workflows, tools, and automation for handling all of this, giving these finance stakeholders what they need when they need it. 

Finance Services

What are Finance Services? They include the processes and practices that drive the finance life cycle from plan to execution to performance analysis. Regardless of company size, what’s essential is that finance teams execute a playbook that enables efficient operations and consistent performance. 

Here are a few of the core FSM services:

Target-Setting

Target-setting is the process of socializing top-down financial targets with budget-owners. Typically the first step in the financial lifecycle, target-setting sets the guardrails to create plans. These guardrails ensure financial decisions are measured against expectations.  

Planning

Planning is the process of determining how capital and resources should be allocated to fund hiring, purchasing, and strategic initiatives. Effective planning has a foundation of committed and variable spending, so budget-owners understand the flexibility they have to meet targets. 

The days of setting an annual plan and forgetting about it are behind us. Considering the fast pace of today’s business environment, planning is flexible and dynamic to meet the changing needs of business priorities, performance, and expectations. Forget static financial models; today’s models are collaborative and informed applications that understand decisions at the earliest stages of intent. 

Forecasting

Forecasting is the action of providing the best-guess estimates of future financial performance, combining complete visibility into committed spending with anticipation of what’s going to happen. It’s more than updating actuals and drivers. It’s automatically making the best use of the most recent information on decisions that are about to be made. Considering financial performance is the summation of day-to-day finance decisions, this process quickly responds to provide the most accurate representation of the future dynamically.   

Spend Management

Spend Management includes the activities that span the procurement lifecycle end-to-end, from planning a purchase all the way to recording it in accounting. Considering the number of stakeholders involved in purchasing, effective processes unify and streamline work while providing everyone with visibility and shared expectations.

The key is focusing on the end-to-end workflow and not allowing silos to exist for things like vendor reviews, contract intake, sourcing, etc. You need to be able to integrate and scale with best-in-class processes and tools for use cases in Security, Legal, and more. 

Headcount Management

Headcount management is the process of actively managing hiring plans through the lifecycle from to-be-hired to a filled role and new teammate. The objective is to bring visibility and alignment to what’s approved and adequately track roles all the way to completion. A satisfactory hiring plan solution transforms models or spreadsheets into a real-time and collaborative workplace that connects hiring managers and stakeholders in HR, Recruiting, and Finance. 

Performance Analysis

Performance analysis is the step of analyzing budget, spend management, and accounting data. The objective is to share an understanding of what happened with the budget-owners who are accountable for the results. The critical component is serving decision-makers with information when and where they make decisions. To effectively deliver on this approach, data sources need to be synced, organized and presented where purchasing and hiring is tracked. 

FSM Tools

FSM is a new development that requires new tools. Existing finance tools like ERPs and financial modeling systems were built for the back-office and power-user use cases. But a structured approach to finance services requires tools that are team-friendly, self-service, and all-in-one.  FSM tools need to unify work and communication, so people have a single tool to get jobs done. The goal is to get everyone closer to the work that matters to them and efficiently get it done. 

The old guard of finance systems doesn’t go away with FSM, but in fact, these systems are made more efficient, accurate, and powerful. FSM solutions are like a supercharger for incumbent finance systems, powering them with the most real-time and precise information from the business at any point in time.

Implementing an FSM solution is important once decisions are decentralized to budget-owners, hiring managers, buyers, etc. At this point, the collection, management, and tracking of information are critical. Without an FSM tool to guide consistent workflows and provide feedback, every decision will incur operational costs and introduce risk to the business. As with technical risk in product development, the time-to-fix and drag on productivity increase exponentially with scale. A well-designed FSM solution will help you build operating excellence into your DNA from the beginning and avoid painful finance transformation down the road.

Regardless of a business’s stage of growth, the considerations for FSM tools are the same, and they should meet the following requirements: 

  • Easy to use and setup Comes with a clean, intuitive experience that makes it easy to make requests, track work progress, and get visibility into performance. 
  • Integrates with core systems Connects with critical business systems like ERPs, HR systems, and more to align data and streamline processes. 
  • Flexible and scalable Is adaptable to support any types of information requirements, process flows, and permission set up that may be a requirement in the future. 
  • Fast and reliable Provides speedy and reliable services without lag in functionality or availability.

Summary

FSM is at the forefront of building the future of finance. As software moves beyond productivity to more in-depth collaboration and levels of intelligence, FSM will position finance teams to lead with services that create and preserve value. It’s time for finance to empower and support the rest of the company as a trusted partner.