It’s probably safe to say that most finance people didn’t get into the industry so they could focus on reporting. Sure, it’s a critical part of the finance function. But exciting, engaging, inspirational? Sorry, that’s just never going to be how reporting is described.
However, good, data-driven reports—today more important than ever—offer an opportunity to uncover remarkable business insights, which helps FP&A teams become a strategic asset to the company. Here are four common reporting struggles to keep in mind as you build the trust of leadership.
Fail #1: Problems with accuracy
With companies now using multiple data systems throughout their business, finance teams must spend valuable time verifying and validating data. In addition, emailing spreadsheets back and forth can create version-control issues that compromise efficiency, security, and transparency.
Fail #2: Working with multiple systems
Finance is increasingly being asked to combine financial and nonfinancial metrics in the same report. But with all that info trapped in operational silos outside of finance, it can create a significant burden to hunt down data, confirm its accuracy and consistency, and then format reports.
Fail #3. Lack of collaboration
Reporting should be a collaborative process among finance, operations, and leadership. However, too often the process becomes adversarial as finance struggles to get the data it needs while operations personnel feel like they lack sufficient input into the process. The result is an inefficient, ineffective reporting process that benefits no one.
Fail #4: Ineffective data interpretation
Collecting data is no longer enough for an effective reporting process. Finance teams need to understand the story behind the numbers and be able to help leadership make data-driven decisions. This means moving beyond reporting with spreadsheets and investing in tools like data visualization and online dashboards.
The common element to these four fails is technology. Finance teams that still rely on a static spreadsheet– and email-driven process are simply not going to be able to keep up with the reporting demands of a modern business. Instead, these demands will require dynamic, cloud-based software that automates data collection for increased accuracy, links multiple systems to create a single source of truth, enables real-time collaboration, and provides a visual narrative for nonfinancial partners.