Develop analytical skill sets within finance—which may include hiring new talent. According to the Harvard Business Review white paper, “As useful and necessary as it may be to boost the analytical know-how of current staff, it is also clear that acquiring and fostering analytical talent must continue to be a top enterprise objective.” The report also describes a broad range of skills needed to support analytics in finance. “Demand for talent certainly includes those specializing in analytics tools, methods, and technology, but it will also extend to those with the critical thinking skills to ask insightful questions, interpret data, and draw sound conclusions.”
Matt Schwenderman, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, also emphasizes the need for analytical skills, including data scientists. “For finance specifically, one of the biggest gaps is really the difference between the doer roles and the insight roles. Many organizations have folks in all of those functions, but at a disproportionate volume to the doer roles,” he says. “We’re seeing clients, controllers, and CFOs start to look for and actually bring data scientists into their organization.”
Provide self-service analytics to the organization. According to the “Finance Redefined: Workday Global Finance Leader Survey,” only one quarter of finance teams are broadly making self-service data available to business leaders, a missed opportunity for CFOs to add significant value to the organization. Giving business partners direct access to relevant data and analytics empowers them to access the information they need to make decisions and better understand how those choices impact performance.
To effectively deliver self-service analytics to business leaders, two things are important: managers need easy access and absolute trust in the data. Cloud-based finance systems have made this possible: data is real-time, accessible from anywhere at any time, and there’s a single source of truth.
It’s also important to ensure that data governance and security controls are in place when financial data become democratized across an organization. Analyses are most useful when they are tailored, such as providing store managers with dashboards populated only for their specific stores or regions.
Sisco describes how her finance team is supporting managers with real-time data and analytics. “Our finance team has created dashboards in the system that are accessible by leaders. At any time, managers can look at their organization and see budget versus forecast versus actuals for headcount and spend and make in-the-moment decisions that will drive the results within the current period.”