It’s critical for finance organizations today to be able to deliver data and insights that can help inform decision-making, manage risks, and plan for the future. But while there is more data available than ever before, many companies struggle with how to use it effectively. The challenge often boils down to one fundamental thing—the ability to trust the data.
Finance leaders often talk to me about their challenges with data, describing a similar scenario: Their finance teams are working with data that is spread across disparate systems, so the bulk of their time is spent on data gathering and reconciliation, and then putting it into a format that is consumable for the business. As a result, the data is delivered too late to make a difference.
This problem was echoed in our “Finance Redefined” study, which gauged the views of over 670 CFOs and senior finance leaders around the world. Results showed that only 35 percent of respondents are making extensive use of advanced analytics in key areas such as planning, budgeting, and forecasting. What are the barriers? System inefficiency was cited as the second-highest barrier standing in the way of developing data-driven business insights, with integrating finance and non-finance data as the first.
System challenges can make it very difficult to use data effectively. I saw this firsthand in previous organizations where I worked. For example, each month finance would have to close the period, access the data, reconcile it, format it, and analyze it. By the time we delivered the numbers to the business, it was two weeks after the period ended and too late to take action. This means we were always looking back at the data, versus analyzing it at the moment when it could inform a decision.