Bridging the gap between data analysts and the finance department

4 weeks ago 12
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New opportunities for automated information consolidation widen the scope of fiscal reports and analytics. But volition it beryllium capable for CFOs?

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When I was a CIO, nary section demanded much information than finance. Finance had a squad of fiscal analysts who manipulated information into myriad spreadsheets and reports—and a demanding CFO who would ever privation much data.

Financial analysts and CFOs were hard to please. They wanted daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly reports, arsenic good arsenic information for hazard assessments and what-if script analyses. Finance utilized troves of reports to extract the accusation that it wanted to see—but it ne'er seemed to beryllium enough.

SEE: Electronic Data Disposal Policy (TechRepublic Premium)

"The superior contented CFOs look isn't 1 of deficiency of entree to reports," said Didi Gurfinkel, CEO and co-founder of DataRails, an automator of fiscal processes and reports. "CFOs tin (eventually) get the accusation and reports they request to marque fiscal decisions, physique models, nutrient absorption reports, etc. The bigger interest is the cumbersome process successful producing these reports."

That cumbersome manual process involves a afloat unit of fiscal analysts who cull fiscal information from systems that scope from ERP and the wide ledger to CRM and sales. Data from each strategy is reviewed connected a regular basis, and astatine immoderate point, the information from these systems indispensable beryllium hand-aggregated and built into a spreadsheet that is susceptible of answering modular and non-standard questions.

SEE: 5 challenges to implementing QA strategy successful information and analytics projects (TechRepublic)

"When they usage that process, what CFOs, fiscal analysts and concern leaders deficiency is full, unimpeded entree to consolidated reports and having each the disposable insights from the information astatine their fingertips," Gurfinkel said.

This is wherever analytics tools similar dashboards and drill-downs statesman to marque sense. They marque the information overmuch easier to navigate and, much importantly, to larn from successful a timely manner.

However, to get astatine this point, information from aggregate systems indispensable archetypal beryllium consolidated into a cardinal database—and this enactment should not beryllium done manually by a fiscal expert manipulating a spreadsheet. Instead, the information consolidation tin beryllium done with strategy automation. This saves fiscal analysts time, reduces the imaginable for quality mistake and produces faster times to marketplace for reports. The extremity effect is simply a dashboard that summarizes information and that gives you drill-down capableness into the details. This enables concern to make galore reports and scenarios with information that volition assistance it conscionable its insatiable request for information.

Gurfinkel mentioned a usage lawsuit successful which a company's concern section spent hours of labour consolidating fiscal accusation from aggregate information sources manually. Information from QuickBooks was exported into Excel spreadsheets and past reconciled, which required tedious work. Afterward, concern would spell done hours of editing to guarantee accuracy and hole the accusation for institution and enforcement use. By switching to automated information consolidation, the unit was capable to spot instant mentation comparisons and make reports done a azygous interactive and consolidated platform. "They present prevention implicit 15 hours a week, clip that was erstwhile spent connected time-consuming, manual processes," Gurfinkel said.

SEE: Data privateness laws are perpetually changing: Make definite your concern is up to date (TechRepublic) 

This doesn't lick each of finance's reporting needs. But information consolidation and automation that enactment analytics tin bring unneurotic much information from divers sources faster and prevention worker clip portion doing it. The process besides makes concern much self-sufficient from an IT perspective.

However, "A main trouble erstwhile you suggest automated information consolidation is the willingness of companies to instrumentality the leap of faith. This is understandable due to the fact that fiscal executives who person been crunching numbers and producing reports manually via spreadsheets for decades understandably bash not privation the full strategy to alteration dramatically successful a abbreviated play of time," Gurfinkel said.

That's a crushed IT and different exertion leaders indispensable beryllium cognizant of concern process alteration (and resistance) erstwhile they effort to instrumentality automation for analytics.

As with astir analytics and automation efforts, concern indispensable beryllium integrally progressive successful the project, and beryllium the determiner of however it wants its concern processes to alteration successful bid to instrumentality vantage of automation.

"With the assistance of automation, information consolidation is simply a means of revolutionizing the mode concern does business, with far-reaching implications for the company; however, the implementation is cardinal to a palmy integer transition," Gurfinkel said.

I'd 2nd that, adding that a palmy implementation depends connected IT and concern shepherding the caller process into afloat acceptance successful the business, opening with the CFO.

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