Many financial managers experience a daily challenge. They have the information to seriously influence business strategy, but the time involved in traditional reporting reduces their ability to help explore the results. They tend to play the role of provider, supplying information rather discussing and analyzing it. The right tooling, however, can make this situation a thing of the past.

Stop waiting for information
Business Analytics platforms have a major role to play in freeing up the financial director, unlocking mountains of financial data with speed and ease.

In a previous article, we looked the difference between analytics and traditional reporting. Rather than involving queries designed by IT, analytics systems offer one-click, self-service data analysis, effortlessly turning big data into business-wide, real-time KPIs and trends displayed via dashboards.

These KPIs offer insight into activities and processes that can be improved, signposting changes that can deliver more speed, more efficiency, more accuracy and more profit. In short, the information senior management need to run the business effectively.

A giant leap
In comparison to traditional reporting, we’re talking about a major leap forward for financial professionals. Insight relates to what’s happening now, not when the database query was run. This obviously helps when it comes to making good decisions. Trends can be recognized early to support positive changes and tackle negative ones.

Win time in two ways
The financial manager wins time here in two ways. Firstly, the information needed is immediately available. Waiting for IT to process a request is no longer part of the process. Secondly, much of the information their colleagues need can be collected by them – no more piles of report requests to work through. In short, finance no longer need to provide the rest of the organization with intel. And as an added bonus, everybody always has access to the same information.

From accountant to analyst
The time that’s saved can then be spent analysing and reviewing the answers. Finance professionals can actively help the management team decide how to act on the information – be it adjustments to strategy or refinements to business processes.

With the real-time key financial figures in one overview, the Finance Director has his finger continually on the pulse. The management team can then easily review and discuss cashflow, liquidity, gross and net profit, returns on equity and other financial measures at any given moment. They can enjoy direct insight in outstanding creditor and debtor balance trends for all areas of the business. Discussions can always be supported by today’s total revenue, costs and profit figures, with the ability to instantly drill down to the transaction level for root causes.

Support sales
Sales focused information is also easily brought to the table. It’s possible to quickly reveal who is buying what, where and when. Sales volumes per account manager, and their contributions to overall margin are a click away. It’s possible to understand what seemingly successful high-volume products really deliver to the bottom line, and what’s likely to happen if certain items are removed from your assortment.

The Finance Director can then get really involved in the discussions that follow. What products lines need more marketing attention in which regions? How can we optimize inventory to boost working capital? How can we address project revenue leakage? Which customers are problem payers and why? And what can we do about it?

Financial expertise at the heart of business strategy
With the information behind these events and trends easy to access and available to all stakeholders, the leading financial expert in the business can become both a controller and a strategist. With the administrative workload reduced, their expertise can be more focused on driving the business forward.