The BI Governance Puzzle; Should Finance Be in Control?

In recent years, we have seen business intelligence (BI) software be rapidly integrated into an organisation’s arsenal; providing them with a higher level of visibility and insight into current and future business performance. It can be said that Finance have always been at the forefront spearheading the BI adoption due to their struggles when collecting data to perform their analysis and reporting duties. Although multiple departments do benefit from BI software, the Finance function is regarded as the mind behind the organisation, therefore demands a more intelligent and specialized financial reporting tool, allowing them to complete their tasks at hand. However, within average organisations, the IT department has complete control over all forms of business intelligence, and therein lies the BI governance puzzle. Should IT have ownership over all the BI software when it is Finance that actually depends upon it?

The changing role of Finance

Finance has evolved from back-office accountants to trusted strategic business advisers who assist directly in achieving organisational goals and long-term growth objectives. For this role transformation to occur, Finance must be armed with real-time financial analytics and have instant access to all the organisation’s data. Finance now have become the prime user of BI tools within an organisation, specifically to enhance their analysis, reporting and forecasting performance, which all require a specific level of detail that IT-controlled generic BI tools do not possess. Keeping this in mind, how an organisation chooses who manages and controls business intelligence significantly impacts upon Finance’s ability to act as a central player in improving corporate performance. The question remains- how can Finance be expected to fulfill their new role if they do not own the rights to their own data and its sources?

Why Finance is the best department for BI control

Unlike other departments, Finance is in a unique position as it is responsible for gathering both the financial and non-financial data from every individual department and consolidating all of it into detailed reports to analyse. They can then leverage the power of this data to improve operations, solve any emerging issues, and optimize processes.

With the vast amount of complex and large data sets coming in from multiple sources, their ability to effectively understand this data is dependent on their access to an intelligent financial reporting tool. There is a plethora of surveys conducted with CFOs which have all reached similar conclusions- finance teams can greatly improve their performance and ability to make informed business decisions when they have access to relevant and accurate data. To add real value to an organisation, a specialized BI tool with financial intelligence that is controlled by Finance is the only way forward.

But, what about the IT department’s level of control?

The finance department must work under extremely tight and strict deadlines, meaning they demand visibility to relevant data instantaneously. They do not have the luxury of waiting for IT to deliver their required data or make any changes or updates for them. Ideally, Finance should be able to view the data they want, whenever, and wherever they are. But in reality, when IT is in control it hinders upon Finance’s ability to perform their duties and slows down their decision-making process.

With financial regulations and reporting standards being raised and becoming even more challenging to meet, Finance is now under an increasing amount of pressure to ensure that they are compliant to every change, unless they want to face repercussions. Making these types of changes are not easy. It is a time-consuming process of approvals, acceptances, coding, and eventually testing. When IT is in charge, this process can take far longer than necessary. This is why it is essential that Finance has complete control over BI software to guarantee that adjustments are made in a timely fashion and to reduce their dependency on another department.

Ultimately, for CFOs to drive their organisation’s performance, they need to have direct control over the tools and the information required to make strategic decisions in real time. To learn more about financial reporting tools that will better serve the finance team and their reporting needs, and allow them to govern BI, we recommend reading our whitepaper below.

Transforming Financial Reporting; How to Address the Specific Needs of the Finance Function

This whitepaper explores how moving to a real time financial reporting solution will help your organisation take your data to the next level through leveraging its insights to make more informed decisions based on accurate and relevant data.

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