Jayne Hoather talks about the role Finance plays in Fuel for Growth

My day job is head of central costs, but at the moment I’m seconded into Fuel for growth and work on this full time as the finance lead. I’m the only finance person that’s full time on Fuel for Growth.

My job involves a lot of negotiation and challenging the numbers. With finance business partners and the Fuel for Growth team, I make sure we’re putting the right numbers into our plans, that we’re being ambitious but realistic enough with our targets, that risks of removing or reducing spend have been considered, and that there’s no double counting if savings are already planned.

No one on the Fuel for Growth team has it easy as it’s a very intense, complex and fast moving programme. But I really enjoy my role. It’s the satisfaction of getting to the bottom of really complex budgets, and the feeling you get from helping other people with finance questions, and seeing them get into the detail themselves. It’s a very rewarding role as I have a lot of autonomy, and no day is ever dull.

If you’re a budget holder you have a part to play

Another thing I’ve been working on is the zero based budgeting (ZBB) guidelines which we’re using to build our budgets this year. It’s about building a budget from the bottom up, and thinking if we started from scratch – what do we really need? So I’m working with teams to help roll this out.

Some teams are still working on their budgets for next year, and this year it needs to be done through a Fuel for Growth and ZBB lens. It’s really important that everyone with a budget realises the impact they can make on our bottom line. It might seem hard to make a difference, but when you think we have dozens of budget holders across Co-op, you can see how small amounts can really add up.

From now on, the budgeting process will be a bit different as budget holders will work closely with Cost Category Owners. The CCO’s role is to offer constructive challenge, to see if we can work our budgets harder, or get better value for money. They also need to ensure that all of the initiatives we’ve been working on make it to the bottom line.

Another change is that we’ve set a challenge to reduce our travel and expenses spend by 20% across Co-op, so next year teams will really need to consider whether travel is essential.

My advice to everyone when putting together your budget is:

  • Don’t simply roll forward what you spent last year
  • Instead, challenge every single spend line. If we were starting from scratch would we spend it?
  • Build your budget based on volume x spec x price
  • Make sure you can justify every item of spend
  • Don’t plan to re-invest any savings. We must consciously decide to make investments as a Co-op so  that we can ensure we maximise our return
  • Remember that the reason we are doing this is to create Fuel for Growth and spend our Members’ money more wisely

If you have any questions about Fuel for Growth, or setting your budget, you can get in touch with your finance business partner, or email fuelforgrowth@coop.co.uk

Jayne Hoather
Finance Lead for Fuel for Growth