Here’s a Zen koan for you: If data isn’t accurate, is it still data?
Clearly, the answer should be no. But for too many finance departments, inaccurate or incomplete data is business as usual.
And it’s not as if CFOs are unaware of this. According to the Adaptive Insights CFO Indicator Report Q3 2015, 65% of CFOs surveyed cited “accuracy and integrity of the data itself” as the most or second most important characteristic of financial data.
Too much data
The problem? Too much data, coming from too many sources, without a system in place to efficiently or effectively make sense of it all. Consider this: In the same report, 58% of CFOs said they expect the amount of data they process to increase by up to 50% over the next five years. In addition, 41% say their teams manage data from three to five sources and 47% say they still manually aggregate data.
Yet, according to the CFO Indicator Report Q2 2016, 55% of CFOs report that their teams are adequately staffed and have no plans to expand headcount. Not only that, but nearly half said their FP&A teams were already working up to 50 hours per week.
So what do you get when you ask overworked teams to process 50% more data? Well, their reaction will be anything but Zen.
Work smarter, not harder
If you can’t increase headcount or decrease the amount of data, the logical solution is to look for efficiency. Luckily, cloud financial software is making it significantly easier for teams to handle the data deluge. By automating data collection, you can remove the time and hassle of emailing spreadsheets back and forth and manually aggregating data. Instead, the data is easily collected in real time, all in one place.
Not only that, but you can see exactly where the data came from, ensuring its integrity. This is a vast improvement over spreadsheets, which give you no control over who entered the numbers and no insight into where their information came from, leaving you to question the reliability of financial reporting.
Done correctly, the result of automated data collection will be a single source of truth you can use for more accurate financial reporting, forecasting, and planning. One source can eliminate the multiplication of spreadsheets and enable better collaboration across the business because it removes confusion and data doubts, and instead accelerates decision-making.
In short, it frees up finance teams to not spend time trying to gather data, but actually be able to analyze the information that is at their fingertips.