Financial Insights: it’s time to change the focus from information production to information insight
Matt Potts
By Matt Potts
Blog

Many finance operations and departments within organisations of all sizes spend large amounts of time (daily, weekly, monthly etc.) producing reports and analytics. It’s usually the former of those two (reports) that get produced and this is often through a combination of running data exports and existing reports, stitching them together in Excel, adding in off system logic, calculations and context.

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We’ve been working with a finance division of a leading UK business to help them change the way they produce their financial reporting in order to allow them to change the focus from information production, towards adding insight and overlaying drivers and actions on top of the data, allowing more focused conversations between finance business partners and cost centre managers out in the wider business.

Transitioning from Pack to (i)Pad: driving a different conversation

Through automating the production of key financial reports into dynamic BI applications, serviced through an iPad for example, finance teams such as management accountants can focus on being just that – management accountants – not report producers. There’s also added benefit of:

  • Being able to have the information in a timely manner, giving a greater time period to be able to act on it
  • Traceability of who is actually consuming/using what (not possibly with classic printed packs)
  • Sustainability, consistency and maintainability of having a complete on-system process (no offline files or processes and no offline reporting logic being applied)

Businesses can move away from printing management packs to delivering an engaging, interactive and insightful analytical application (aka dashboard or BI app) giving users (be that anyone who consumes that financial information) the ability to retrieve the data that is relevant to them as and when they want to run it. At our client we have seen this for the two BI applications that we have developed for analysis on resource costs (FTE costs, overtime, payroll, expenses etc) and controllable costs (Opex) across their multi-million pound spend base.

Summary

Changing financial reporting processes in line with other departments and lines of business (sales, logistics etc.) is essentially moving finance into the era of the digital enterprise.

Ultimately it will help drive a different conversation around what the insight and drivers are behind a particular trend or variance. Finance Business Partners for example can use the BI application as the focal point for meeting and discussion with their cost centres managers, as well as both parties being able to use it as a reference point such as running it each day, week or month as required. Management meetings can also benefits from the attendees using the iPad as the reference rather than flicking through reams of paper.

 

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Matt Potts
By Matt Potts

Matt Potts is Solution Principal for Business Insights, specialising in Business Intelligence and Analytics. Matt has worked in the BI domain for over 8 years, helping organisations turn their data into actionable business insights through the use of agile BI platforms and delivery models. He is involved with multiple clients across varying lines of business and industries, working with them to ensure they realise the value from their investment in BI technologies. Outside of work Matt enjoys running, cycling and watching a range of sports and is kept busy by DIY projects at home.

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