Today, reporting methods are truly being tested. With a shift to work from home, management cannot just pop into finance departments for the updates they need; they are reliant on generated reports.
Excel sheets are known for being difficult to interpret into actionable insights. Many financial analysts have made careers out of deciphering the endless abyss a cornucopia of spreadsheets can create. The majority of finance professionals waste their time with manual processes and version comparisons. Still, their value isn’t in their ability to catch a mistake; it is in their ability to interpret the data, and this is where analytics platforms come into play.
What is an Analytics Platform?
An analytics platform integrates with all the various software types and data silos to consolidate and analyze data for a clear interpretation of a business’s health. The right platform can automate processes, update inputs in real-time, generate reports on a whim, and reveal actionable insights for any department, as well as decision-makers.
Finance teams have multiple data sources spread across the entire company. Consolidating this data, ensuring it is mistake-free from all the manual inputs, and then compiling it into actionable data for management takes time. It leaves a lot of room for error. In the report, ‘Transforming Finance’ by Wayne Eckerson, he explains ‘In the process of producing all these reports, finance teams create information silos, using spreadsheets and other low-cost tools, that interfere with top executives’ ability to obtain a consistent view of enterprise performance.’
This Top-Executive view of enterprise performance is vital for the health of an organization, and small spreadsheet errors have led to decisions that cost companies millions. For finance departments, the adoption of analytics platforms has been a taboo issue as the majority are unable to work with current reporting methods. These solutions cannot assist in finding mistakes, which leads to beautiful charts and graphs that reveal inaccurate information based on unreliable data.
Data Analytics Solutions
One company that has created a platform for data interpretation is Qlik. Qlik is a cloud data integration and analytics solution that helps to ‘close the gap between data, insights, and action.’ It provides solutions for multiple departments and promises to ‘turn raw data into remarkable outcomes.’ Qlik offers solutions for many industries and departments regardless of the size and scope, even offering pipeline automation to get you the data you need when you need it.
Tableau, a data visualization company, is another great contender for understanding raw data, that allows people to see and understand raw data sets through automated updates, smart dashboards, and fast analytics. They have multiple business intelligence platforms for individuals, teams, and organizations, even offering embedded analytics for flexibility, security, and the ability to scale. Tableau focuses on analytics and provides solutions for any type of business, from education facilities to government entities, to help find the opportunities in raw data.
Popular analytics solutions such as these have been made to compile company-wide data sets into one unified interface but they are not known for finding small inaccuracies in the details. This has been the issue with the adoption of such technologies for finance departments. When it comes to financial analytics software, data sets need to be reviewed and checked for errors that can occur during manual inputs. Solutions need to offer the ability to compile, review, and find the mistakes; this is where excel-based analytics software takes center stage.
An Excel-based Financial Analytics Solution
The majority of errors occur within the exchange of information, and when reports are Excel-based and shared, it exacerbates the issue. It is no secret that 90% of businesses are still using Excel, and the only way to share this data is to send entire workbooks. These workbooks contain assumptions, formulas, and other information that is usually not relevant and may even be confidential. Providing permissions, editing, and updating creates multiple versions of the same spreadsheet, which then require time-intensive version comparisons.
Analytics solutions are generally not Excel friendly and are known for their limitations when it comes to interpreting and visualizing excel content. DataRails saw this need and created a solution to transform local excel files into dynamic, real-time reports. DataRails allows you to upload all spreadsheets into one platform, with options to define different users, roles, and responsibilities, with a click of your mouse. Upload data from any source to create spreadsheet graphs, charts, and tables on a web-based dashboard for easy sharing with management and other teams. Create permissions showing each user data relevant to them and ensure that any changes they make are instantly detectable on a web-based dashboard.
Make sure to adopt an analytics platform that works with your existing interface. Finally, get an accurate 360-degree view of your company without needing to revise your day-to-day processes. With the modern options available, it is time to embrace the trend sweeping the nation and finally implement a financial analytic and reporting platform for your finance department.