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What to consider for greater success with financial analytics and reporting

by Mike Jones in Data Analytics 23/06/2021

Businesses today are becoming more and more reliant on data and fortunately, the availability of data is rising considerably. The amount of information generated by one business would have simply overwhelmed some of the largest companies from a decade or so ago. 

Yet, the majority of people in recent studies confirm they continue to find the volume of data too much at a certain time, while another 45% from the recent State of Growth report stated that the lack of data represents one of the biggest challenges in business.

How can the finance industry work through this balancing act of remaining in control of their data and satisfied with the volume and quality of information they have available?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have become a vital tool for the management and organisation of business data. While each team may only require access to a certain portion of the data, combining it all within one system creates a much clear and effective view of the entire business. There are certain considerations to think about for financial analytics and successful reporting.

Are the tools you use suitable for your business?

Spreadsheets are popular reporting options due to their simplicity but they have their limitations. Working with conventional spreadsheets can result in errors, often due to calculating formulas incorrectly. To create a higher level of accuracy, information needs to be constantly updated, which makes it complicated to maintain this level of data quality. 

How accessible is your data?

Combining various data sets in different ways is one of the biggest benefits of applying the right tools to your business. This could be combining financial, production and other data to determine the production costs of a selected product in two varying locations. This level of data wouldn’t be achievable if the business is using varied systems or spreadsheets, or possibly the incorrect ERP system. Utilising an ERP system with a singular database makes it simpler to create centralized access to the information across the business. If data is being captured in this manner, it becomes easily available for various teams to assess and generate new insights.

Are the reports flexible?

ERP and finance software providers generally provide a range of pre-formatted reporting templates that can be applied to standard reports. This reduces time and money spent by eliminating the need to generate frequently used reports. The problem is that one format won’t necessarily work for another. Using predefined reports can be useful but many financial reports need to be customised to present data in other ways for different clients. Often, altering the layout or incorporating new data into an existing report can be complicated and time-consuming.

Are there restrictions with your KPI monitoring?

KPIs allow business leaders to understand how well their team is performing against certain objectives and enable businesses to focus on reaching specific targets. Most software solutions are embedded with built-in KPIs but to be effective these KPIs must correspond with the correct business model. No two businesses are the same and some software providers do not appreciate this, assuming that several standard KPIs are all that business requires. 

Can dashboards be customised?

Associated with the KPIs are dashboards, which are an important element in providing visibility into goals for a business. In addition to displaying KPIs, they can support individuals to remain focused on their work, keeping them alert to potential issues that need to be addressed or certain jobs that need completing.

To grasp the full potential of data, businesses need analytics that truly add value to your business and reporting that is insightful. While many software providers offer various tools, not all systems are equal. Selecting the incorrect solution that has irrelevant data can limit the ability of a business to take full advantage of its information. Selecting the best solution will generate a higher level of flexibility and confidence that the right information is being channelled to the appropriate people at the right time.