The speed of change in the digital landscape is relentless, yet in the Office of Finance the adoption of technology appears to be slower than ever. FSN research on ‘The Future of the Finance Function’ found that 33% of Senior Finance Professionals felt they relied too much on gut feeling when making decisions, owing to a lack of hard data.
According to Enterprise Times, a staggering 60% of businesses in the U.S. are still relying on spreadsheets for their Financial Reporting. Let’s be honest, Excel and PowerPoint are great for what they were originally designed for, but these tools were never meant to be your Single Source of the Truth or to run your multi-regional, 25+ LOB conglomerate’s financials.
Everybody knows the headaches that come along with static spreadsheet reporting. Not only does the report preparation take a significant amount of time, it is also prone to error. Further, these tools lack the advantage of more sophisticated analytical functionality needed to get to the story behind the numbers.
If you are serious about driving greater efficiency in your financial reporting process, if you are serious about automating and digitizing financial analytics and if you are serious about near real-time strategic corporate performance insights, what you should be looking for is a tool that provides direct connectivity to your source data.
Direct connectivity prevents any manipulation of the source data, unlike what traditionally happens when you extract data to Excel. Direct connectivity also puts you, the Finance Professional, in the driver’s seat. With the right tool, you can completely direct your reporting process, create and edit reports on the fly and digitize your reporting packages without support from IT!
Effective use of multi-dimensional data
Most large organizations have consolidation tools and Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) systems. In some cases, these systems and tools are supported by multiple Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. The problem is that neither of these are terribly good at reporting, and there are hardly any interactive mobile dashboarding solutions around which communicate natively to these systems.
The reason there are hardly any solutions out there is because of their complexity. EPM tools use Multi-Dimensional Data structures. Many BI tools, however, are focused on transaction level data which is essentially two dimensional. Think rows and columns. The problem is that EPM systems can’t operate well in only two dimensions. They use many, making it almost impossible for generic BI tools to support. Finance executives need reporting capability that takes advantage of the multi-dimensional data stored in your EPM systems. They need to be able drill down into the data and to change entities and points of view. Thus they will achieve understanding of the big picture as well as the underlying details.
Spend time on creating insights instead of creating numbers
So, you have very specific requirements for data aggregation, standardization and accuracy. You’ve tried the standard reporting packages that came with your EPM system and they are archaic at best. At worst, you need to hire an army of IT professionals just to change the color of a bar in a stacked bar chart. You’re also restricted by an inflexible calendar so you’ve got to be very efficient to boot. And the leadership team wonders why you’re fed-up!
Companies need to move beyond Excel and PowerPoint. They need to allow intelligent applications to analyze the vast data pools and provide executives with more targeted insights to support their decisions. Explaining, commenting and financial storytelling requires collaboration. That’s why multi-dimensional reporting software that drives standardization, accountability and efficiency across the organization while enabling digital collaboration, is becoming more and more important.
It’s all about finding the right tool for the job!