Businesses around the globe are struggling to do more with less as budgets tighten, uncertainty looms, and talented workers can be scarce. At the same time, the finance function is emerging as a strategic pillar in many organizations. Companies are generating more data than ever before, and it’s falling on the finance team to make sense of the meaning behind all those numbers.
As the so-called “Great Resignation” continues, it is creating particularly onerous challenges for finance leaders at most firms. What can be done to increase management leverage, create more value with fewer resources, and in doing so, deliver higher value to the organization?
The answer lies in the smart use of technology. Here’s a look at some of the key problems with the manual processes still prevalent at most companies, and some ways in which purpose-built reporting and EPM solutions can help you deliver results that make a real difference.
Disjointed Manual Processes
Many of the problems faced by today’s companies originate from the use of disparate software systems, all of which operate somewhat independently. The best-of-breed philosophy has won out, as smaller, more focused vendors have set out to solve specific business problems.
Many organizations are running separate enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, for example. They may be operating one or more distinct products that focus on digital marketing automation. Very often, custom databases or even spreadsheets sit alongside off-the-shelf systems, capturing data and supporting business processes not otherwise accommodated by the company’s core software systems.
This diversity can be a very good thing insofar as it supports departments in functioning as they see fit. Marketing is not limited to working with a system that was designed for back-office ERP functions, nor are procurement specialists necessarily limited to the off-the-shelf functionality included in a large, monolithic system.
However, there is a downside; each system, operating independently, constitutes a data silo. When finance wants to pull all of that information together for analysis, it presents some major challenges. Imagine that you want to look at sales forecasts, the current sales pipeline, year-to-date sales and prior years’ sales to understand how the company is performing relative to committed targets.
In all likelihood, that information will come from at least two different systems, ERP and CRM. There may be a third or fourth element to the picture, potentially including standalone spreadsheets or homegrown databases. Pulling all of that information together in a way that makes sense can be tremendously time-consuming. It often involves exporting data from each system, combining it into a single spreadsheet or database, and performing extensive cleanup before it can be trusted to produce an accurate report for management.
Data silos require a lot of extra work. Perhaps just as importantly, they lead to a time delay between the moment something happens in the business and the time it shows up on a report. All of that in-between work–the export, the consolidation, and the cleanup–means that analysts are stuck using a snapshot of the data. It doesn’t reflect what’s happening in real time, and if you want a new report, the process must be repeated all over again.
Manual Processes Are Prone to Errors
Inevitably, the export/import or copy/paste processes described above will eventually introduce errors into the data. We have seen situations wherein a new row in the source data isn’t reflected in the target spreadsheet, leading to a host of formulas that need to be adjusted. If that task is inadvertently overlooked, then the report might be altogether wrong. That can lead to incorrect conclusions, which in turn can lead to bad business decisions.
If the source data contains additional columns, different data formats, unexpected filter values, or any other anomalies that go unnoticed, it can lead to very real problems, resulting in inaccurate reports and a loss of confidence among the managers to rely on those reports.
Telling the Story Behind the Numbers
EPM solutions are popular in large part because they fulfill a compelling need for C-suite managers to understand what’s happening on the ground. Executives need to know how the organization is performing relative to key metrics, and how certain external factors may impact revenue product demand, profitability, supply chain performance, and more.
Just as importantly, C-suite managers need to understand the story behind the numbers. They need their finance team to add context and perspective to deepen their understanding of what’s happening in the business.
While many companies have existing EPM solutions in place, they can be expensive to purchase and implement, and even more expensive to maintain. When the finance team needs a new report, or even changes to an existing report, they typically need to call on technical experts to make the modifications. In light of the Great Resignation and the aforementioned talent shortage, this simply shifts the problem to a different role in the organization. The finance team is left with an even bigger problem–dependency on IT experts whose availability may be very limited. The alternative is to hire expensive outside consultants, another unpalatable option for today’s cost-conscious organizations.
How, then, can finance teams get the best of both worlds? The answer lies in purpose-built reporting and analytics solutions that deliver real-time reports from multiple source systems, designed for finance users, which don’t require specialized IT expertise.
CXO software from insightsoftware eliminates the data silos that stand in the way of a unified view of your organization. If you’re already running an EPM solution, CXO can work seamlessly alongside it, leveraging your existing investments in Oracle Hyperion Financial Management (HFM), Oracle Enterprise, Oracle Essbase, SAP Business Planning & Consolidation (BPC), SAP Business Warehouse for NetWeaver (BW), Tagetik, OneStream, or PBCS.
CXO Software is a finance-driven solution. It’s designed specifically for the finance function, and can be managed by the very same staff responsible for performance reporting. With CXO, finance can rise to fulfill its strategic role, focusing on value-added activities. Your team can focus on telling the story behind the numbers, adding depth and focus to drive better management decisions.
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