While other departments have advanced and moved towards more dynamic data presentations, finance departments are somewhat stuck in the past. PowerPoint and Excel continue to be the most commonly used presentation software. FP&A analysts and financial managers must modernize their methods of presenting information to their board members in order to demonstrate their worth.
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways for finance executives to present their work to their boards in a dynamic and visually pleasing manner. CFOs and finance VPs now have the capacity to construct financial dashboards as well as operational dashboards thanks to advancements in software technologies.
If you're having trouble presenting your work to your board, keep reading to learn how spreadsheet solutions can improve your reporting.
Say Goodbye to Manual Reporting & the Problems It Brings With It
Responding to inquiries promptly is one of the most prevalent reporting difficulties that CFOs struggle with. This is because most financial reports are created manually, which means they take a long time to complete. Because these manual reports take time to create, there is a lag between the moment the information is gathered and the time it is presented.
The difficulty with this is that data can change during the time it takes to manually create and present reports. Due to the timing gap, CFOs and other leaders must be extremely prepared to reply to inquiries, and in an attempt to preempt them, information in the presentation’s materials will frequently differ from what the presenter is saying creating much confusion.
This perplexity frequently leads to a line of questioning as board members try to figure out what information is the most current and important. To respond to these inquiries, most people ask a finance manager, who then asks a financial analyst, who then needs time to aggregate and evaluate data before reporting it back.
Unfortunately, the process eventually becomes a never-ending cycle, in which timing discrepancies generate queries, which in turn demand additional time to answer, resulting in new timing discrepancies. Finally, reports are then created, which must be reviewed and validated before being sent back to senior leaders who can evaluate and interpret the data to respond to board member requests more efficiently.
The Solution - Dashboarding
Finance departments can benefit greatly from switching their traditional reporting methods to digital dashboard reporting in the same manner that other department heads are doing so. CFOs are ideally equipped to show data in a dynamic format that can be queried on the fly and automatically updates with the most up-to-date data.
Furthermore, dashboards eliminate much of the risk associated with manual reports and create material reductions in reliance upon multiple staff members. This allows finance departments to be more lean and cost-effective while also offering more comprehensive and impactful reports.
Finance departments that use dashboards can spend less time acquiring and validating data and more time assembling that data into easy-to-read reports, allowing them to focus on higher-value operations. This enables CFOs to make better use of their employees and reduces reliance on data input and administration, resulting in a more integrated and responsive finance department.
While this all sounds amazing the main problem is that dashboards frequently necessitate complex Business Intelligence (BI) programs, which are not well adapted to producing financial data. This makes Excel and Powerpoint indispensable.
The reliance on complicated financial models, which frequently necessitate a significant amount of effort to update and roll for each period or update of new information, exacerbates these issues. Any flaws in these models will be maintained throughout the reporting process.
The main solution to this problem is to give finance leaders access to Business Intelligence platforms while also giving them the freedom and comfort of data manipulation in Excel. Software solutions that combine these two concepts, allow users to have real-time access to data provided by Business Intelligence systems and to develop complicated models in an Excel-based environment that update themselves in real-time.
Showcasing Financial Elements on Dashboards
One of Excel's and Powerpoint's major drawbacks is the lack of functionality for formatting and presenting data in a visually appealing manner. This significant disadvantage hinders users from readily changing the visual components of a report, and it frequently binds presenters with monotonous and simple slide decks, as too much information on the screen at one time is often worse.
Dashboards make the reporting process easier by allowing users to design aesthetically appealing user interfaces while just reporting the information that's important for making decisions. This helps presenters to attract their audience while simultaneously providing real-time data in response to requests from board members. Using digitalized dashboards instead of traditional manual reporting offers the advantage of not only capturing an audience's attention but also enables senior finance professionals to field inquiries with assurance, eliminating the previously mentioned timing disparities.
In the age of information, dipping your toes into your data or shooting in the dark isn’t enough. To win tomorrow's commercial battlefield, you must squeeze every last drop of value from your business data—and effective digital dashboards are the way to do just that. With access to numerous financial reporting solutions, there are many reasons why you should stop creating your reports manually. Now’s the time to advance and move towards presenting data in more dynamic ways.