Many of us at this time of year are wondering what the year ahead will bring and New Year’s Day 2012 is no exception for us here at Financial Progression. There is much look forward to from both a business and cultural perspective — in the case of the latter both the Olympics and Golden Jubilee are once in a lifetime opportunities for the vast majority of us.

The Christmas period is also a time for reflection: an opportunity to slow down, spend time with family and friends and, in the rare solitary moment, take stock on what has happened in the past 12 months and what bearing past events might have on the coming year.

For many in business in the UK, 2011 was not great: budget cuts, redundancies, the Eurozone debt crisis and constant uncertainty. I can certainly relate to the first and last of these as they have provided an environment in which our business has been able to thrive. Budgets are under scrutiny like never before. Like it or not, marketers are being forced to understand exactly how their organisation’s money is being spent and, of course, that is where we come in. We have had an increasing number of conversations with brand managers keen to understand in more detail than ever before the financial and commercial aspects of the relationship with their agencies be they involved in media, creative, digital or events. A number of these conversations have resulted in exciting new client relationships being formed and all with household brand names.

Like it or not, marketers are being forced to understand exactly how their organisation’s money is being spent…

Existing clients have also been active. We completed a major contract compliance audit assignment for a well-known UK food manufacturer of its brand licensing agreements. Not only did the project have a healthy return on investment for the client, but it has also brought to the attention of licensor and licensees the continual need to focus on all aspects of a business’ activities – not easy in the current economic climate when organisations are trying to do as much as possible to steal a march on their competitors, whilst keeping staff costs tightly controlled.

We are also seeing an increasing number of organisations keen to understand in detail the profile of their spend: not just in marketing but across their entire direct and indirect categories. In addition with the pressure on headcount in many organisations, we are seeing a number of large organisations looking to improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of their procurement teams by introducing eSourcing applications (eRFP’s, eAuctions and Contract Management). This year we have been supporting a FTSE 100 company, which is growing rapidly and has interests all over the globe, to transform its eProcurement capability by sourcing and implementing for it both Spend Analysis and eSourcing applications. We presented the output of the Spend Analysis project to its Executive Board just before Christmas and were delighted by the positive response: the energy generated in the room by the information now at its fingertips was something to behold. Such knowledge can only lead to even better decision-making.

So for Financial Progression, 2011 was a good year. We are working hard to ensure that we build on that success to carry the momentum forward into 2012 for the benefit of our clients, both current and future. I’ll tell you this time next year how we got on!