Today’s financial controller has a lot more on their plate than just crunching numbers. More and more, they are taking on the responsibilities of a chief financial officer and becoming essential to the smooth operation of your company’s financial operations.
To keep your controller happy and ensure that things run smoothly, you must give them the tools to do so. New financial automation services that have the ability to perform large-scale and large volume calculations take a lot of pressure off controllers and give them time to focus on strategic tasks, like discovering how to reduce costs, improve productivity, and tighten-up internal controls.
Older financial systems can’t give controllers the kind of up-to-the-minute information they require in order to rapidly respond to dynamic requests. When they’re able to compile reports on the go using analytical software, it’s a real confidence boost to know that they’re able to relay an accurate financial picture to their CFOs or other business unit leaders.
These are some of the tools and practices that will make your controller happy and productive.
1. Allowing Controllers to Use Automation to Get Rid of Spreadsheets and Close Faster
When performing routine monthly, quarterly, or annual closing and reporting, many companies will utilize spreadsheets, which can be full of errors and time-consuming, slowing down the entire process.
According to Ventana Research, only 26% of companies can close their books quarterly in 6 days or less when using spreadsheets. When these processes are automated, the number of companies that close in that time period doubles.
Controllers, when given these tools, are able to consolidate data from multiple ERP systems, get rid of intracompany exchanges, and simply allocate time better. They’re building a workflow of repeatable processes that create a standard and reduce the errors that come with manual entries.
The “virtual close” is still a long way off. ERP systems and financial applications are far from being able to create on-demand, up-to-the-second financial statements. But with access to cloud-based applications, consolidating and reporting using on-premise spreadsheets can be eliminated.
Cloud-based applications are easier to use and can be utilized much more quickly. This means employees are all using the same software. Upgrades to that software can also be done automatically, instead of having to do it, one employee, at a time. It also satisfies the risk of losing information due to disaster or the inability to work on-site.
Using spreadsheets for FP&A processes, emailing them to multiple users, and waiting for them to be sent back, is no longer a viable solution for your finance team. Being able to access data and collaborate from multiple computers and locations while viewing information on a dashboard that gives you perspectives on many different business functions presents financial controllers with more visibility and control than ever before. Reducing the number of spreadsheets to manage, check, and lockdown each close makes for an even happier financial controller.
2. Make It Easy for Controllers and Your Finance Team to Present Data by Using Dashboards
Controllers are now expected to not only provide financial data, but also information on budget and operational costs. Instead of simply compiling reports, controllers need the tools to turn this data into something they can more easily relate to CFOs, thus making a more valuable contribution to decision-making.
To do all of this without becoming a computer programmer, they need access to interactive dashboards and charts so that they can quickly identify patterns and trends by analyzing period-over-period performance and comparing budgets to actuals.
Having access to this type of dashboard will give controllers the capability to immediately compile information that will not only allow them to see changes in data points but to also understand why those changes happened. They can then make suggestions on how these can be corrected to achieve the company’s objectives.
Making these dashboards available to other team members and stakeholders creates an environment where insights that would likely not have occurred when using traditional styles of data sharing become more commonplace. When perspectives from multiple sources are able to be considered using a dashboard, you’re creating the opportunity for better efficiency and productivity.
More often than not, financial controllers and their departments become bogged down over time by redundant internal reporting. These reports are changed regularly by business unit leaders who want to see the same data in different ways. This often leads to extended time preparing various schedules and reports that dice the same data differently and require review at each stage, including the formatting stage.
Dashboards can create graphics and other visualizations that present data in dynamic ways that provide clarity and context. They can be utilized in custom formats to present information to business leaders in a way that they want to see without bogging down your controller and their staff.
Traditionally, reports have to be located within a file, closely examined, and double-checked to see if the data is still accurate. Contrary to this process, dashboards are accessible via multiple devices and are being constantly updated, so employees know they’re getting the most up-to-date information. This is the kind of “finance digital transformation” model that allows controllers to quickly react to new opportunities.
3. Make It Easy for Your Financial Controller to Collaborate
Now that many people within a finance department may be scattered, working in different areas, and working from home, it is more imperative than ever that accountants are able to collaborate, especially when it’s time to close the books.
Antiquated, hard-to-access systems are a barrier to that collaboration, as are deadlines that keep getting pushed back and schedules that keep getting moved around.
In order to keep your controller from getting frustrated at the prospect that deadlines won’t be met and deliverables won’t fall behind, allow them access to automation tools that make it easy for them to manage their distributed teams and carefully oversee project management. By giving them the opportunity to maintain a consistent schedule, they’ll be able to encourage an atmosphere of collaboration, keep the surprises to a minimum, and maintain a steady flow of completed tasks.
Learn How DataRails Can Help Your Controller Do What They Do Best
DataRails can automate and integrate your financial team’s workflow so that you can see increased productivity and reveal insights with an interactive dashboard. Let our team automate your spreadsheet processes and consolidate your data to reveal new, actionable insights all from the comfort of your trusted spreadsheets.