According to Oliver Wyman’s report, “Digital Transformation of the Finance Function,” finance is well-placed to make the move from financial advisor to the owner of an analytical hub, empowering the business with real-time data and actionable insights. In addition, the emergence of automation is driving down the cost of delivering comprehensive insights back to the business, leading to increased expectations of what finance could and should deliver.
Below, we look at five steps finance can take as it moves toward becoming a decision-ready organization.
Evolve Data Ownership, Experience, and Control
Any report that requires IT resources or input represents a potential delay. That can hold up decision making and lead to a host of potential problems for finance and its stakeholders. Legacy systems handed the governance and management of data to IT by default. That’s just how things work in the on-premise world. Today, data ownership needs to be managed by those closest to the business. These teams, including finance, must be empowered to own the definition, implementation, and maintenance of critical components such as the financial data model, accounting rules, mappings, calculations, and metrics. Decision-ready organizations must be agile; they must have data at their fingertips in order to make fast calls based on the latest information.
Accelerate Time to Insight
Directly linked to the point on data control, increasing the speed at which insights can be gathered and shared is also becoming a finance priority. Finance users must be able to efficiently manage and transform data for any type of reporting, analytics, or planning use case. Time to insight relies as much on the user experience as it does on having the right data.
Financial analysts understand the value of using data preparation tools that are both visual and intuitive, helping them create stories to share better insights with executives. This shift to finance being the shapers of their own future demands tools whereby financial analysts can create, maintain, and adjust data transformation pipelines without the need to code. In other words, with little or no IT intervention.
Build a Complete View of Performance, Shared by Everyone
One of the biggest challenges facing finance professionals, and indeed the broader business, is a lack of data consistency. For example, if finance and HR hold two different contradictory versions of headcount data, but this was accrued from a variety of sources, coming to any form of consensus is going to be problematic.
Today, more than ever, businesses need to see the same set of facts, provided by reporting and analytics tools that meet the needs of a growing set of stakeholders with different needs. The impact of the COVID-19 lockdown brought this need into sharper focus, as finance and accounting users, managers, and executives, as well as lines of business, all required a consistent and collaborative view of performance data. Without in-person meetings and “water cooler moments” in the office, the trust and integrity of data becomes paramount.
To build this complete view, finance should be able to seamlessly integrate real-time financial transactions and historical data from legacy systems, in addition to operational data from industry-specific or homegrown solutions, with flexible dimensionality directly from the general ledger.