Finance benchmarking

An organisation’s performance can be improved, but it’s hard to know where to focus efforts without a clear understanding of the current situation. Before making changes to your finance function you need to know where you’re performing and where there are gaps that leave you behind the market leaders. That’s where finance benchmarking comes into play.

What is finance benchmarking and how can it help you?

Benchmarking is a process of assessing your current performance against a peer group of organisations of comparable scale and complexity. This enables you to build a case for making changes to support wider business strategy.

A benchmark isn’t a survey. It’s a detailed process that delivers reliable data, clarity, and a clear roadmap on how to create positive change in your business.

The benchmarking process requires some care to gather reliable data, but PwC provides tools and assistance to minimise the effort. With a little planning even a large multinational can gather and validate all the necessary data in a few days. Once you have that data in hand it’s possible to identify the precise areas of concern that can be inhibiting performance. 

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Will finance benchmarking be disruptive?

How we approach the process keeps disruption to an absolute minimum. In the early stages we secure senior stakeholder buy-in and then rapidly move to communicating the positive nature of benchmarking to the wider business.

Then we plan the entire process with you, in detail, and help inform and train people who will be required to collect the data for the benchmarking. This front-loading of the project means that execution of the project proceeds quickly and smoothly.

It’s our ability to be agile and adaptable, driving forward the process and carefully monitoring it end-to-end, that keeps our benchmarking approach focussed on delivering results.

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How does finance benchmarking work?

The first stage of the process is baselining where we gather all the data needed to build an accurate picture of exactly how your finance function is operating. We take great care to do this efficiently and consistently, because getting this foundation right is vital for success.

Once you agree that the baseline data is valid and accurate we then build out the benchmark population. We’ll use our experience to select the right organisations, ensuring they are relevant to your industry and the scale and complexity of your business. Only with valid comparisons can you get valid finance insight.

Some of the specific tools we use, aside from the benchmark itself, include:

  • Activity analysis – This gives you a detailed view of how people spend their time. It’s not uncommon to find that people are often tied up with non-critical activities that stop them fulfilling their real potential in their role. This can help you decide if something like finance shared services will help your team focus on value-add activities. New ways of working can have an immense impact.
  • Voice of the customer survey – To get accurate insights it’s important to see the finance function as others do. We’ll gather information from people outside the finance team and see what their experience is, helping to identify where changes can be made to improve performance.
  • Executive interviews – These strategic interviews get the perspective of leaders in the business, looking further ahead and beyond finance. This helps to assess what changes finance may need to make to empower the business in the longer term.
  • Process maturity assessment – Here we take a deep dive into the individual processes of the finance function. This helps to uncover why things are the way they are. With this information we gain real insight into problem areas and what needs to be done to make a positive transformation, such as a change in finance technology to better support efficient activity.

It’s important to remember that finance benchmarking is rarely a standalone process, but part of a wider transformation process. It should also be seen as part of a continuous improvement to your business, not something done once and then forgotten about.

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Why choose PwC for finance benchmarking?

The benchmark provides a “health check”, but the real impact comes from executing sustainable change to unlock the benefits that the benchmark identifies. With our breadth of knowledge and depth of skills we’ll help you develop a plan to transform your finance function, and we have the expertise to then support you in executing change successfully.

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Contact us

Brian J Furness

Brian J Furness

Global Consulting Finance Leader, Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7212 3917

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