As other departments have advanced and moved into presenting data in more dynamic ways, finance departments are somewhat stuck in the past. The common methods of presentation continue to be a combination of PowerPoint and Excel. In order to prove their worth FP&A analysts and financial managers have a need to modernize the methods they use to present information to their board members.
Fortunately, there are ways that finance leaders can showcase their work to their board members in dynamic and visually stunning ways. Advancements in software applications have given CFOs and finance VPs the ability to create financial dashboards as well as ones that can be used to present operational conditions.
If you are struggling with how to showcase your work to your board then read on to discover how you can use Datarails to provide better reporting.
Eliminate Problems With Manual Reporting
One of the most common reporting issues that CFOs find themselves struggling with is responding to inquiries in a timely fashion. This is because most financial reports are manually created which means they require a great deal of time to make. The time spent making these manual reports means there is a lag between the time the information is pulled and the time it is presented.
The inherent problem with this is that the data can change in the amount of time it takes to create and present reports manually. This timing difference creates a need for CFOs and other leaders to be overly prepared to respond to questions and in an attempt to preempt them, there will often be information conveyed in the presentation materials that differ from what the presenter is saying. The end result is confusion.
This confusion often leads to a line of questioning as board members seek clarity on what information is the most relevant and reflective of the current moment. The common process for responding to these questions typically involves querying a finance manager, who then queries a financial analyst, who then requires time to aggregate and analyze data and then report it back.
Unfortunately, the process ultimately becomes an endless loop, where timing differences create questions that then require more time to answer creating new timing differences. Finally, reports are then created, which require review and validation before making their way back to senior leaders who can analyze and interpret the information in order to communicate more effectively in response to board member inquiries.
Dashboards As A Reporting Solution
In much the same way that other department heads are transitioning to the use of dashboards, finance departments can derive a great deal of value by converting their traditional reporting methods over to dashboard reporting. CFOs are best suited to present information in a dynamic way that can be queried on the spot and automatically refreshes with the most up-to-date information.
Furthermore, dashboards remove much of the risk associated with manual reports and create material reductions in the reliance upon multiple staff members. This allows finance departments to operate in a more lean and cost-effective way while simultaneously providing more robust and impactful reporting.
Finance departments that rely on dashboards can reduce the amount of time spent gathering and validating data and then time spent compiling that data into easy-to-read reports and instead place attention on more value-add activities. This allows CFOs to leverage staff in a more meaningful way and creates less dependence on data entry and management, creating a more cohesive and responsive finance department.
The major issue with this is that dashboards often require complex Business Intelligence (BI) applications that are typically not well suited to produce financial data. This creates a dependency on Excel and Powerpoint.
These challenges are exacerbated by the reliance on complex financial models which often require a great deal of effort to update and roll for each period or update of new information. Any issues in these models will be perpetuated in the reporting cycle.
Datarails As A Dashboard Solution
The key solution to this problem is to provide finance leaders the access they need to Business Intelligence systems with the flexibility and comfort of data manipulation in Excel. Datarails marries these two concepts and provides users with the ability to gain real-time access to data generated in Business Intelligence systems and allows users to build complex models in an Excel-based environment that autonomously update in real-time.
Furthermore, Datarails allows users to build responsive and flexible dashboards. This allows finance departments to implement the solutions easily and at less cost, with less time sunk into training and adapting to a new environment.
How Dashboards Showcase Finance Work
One of the key limitations of Excel and Powerpoint is the functionality available to format and present information in visually pleasing ways. This key limitation prevents users from being able to easily make changes to the visual aspects of a report and often handcuff presenters with boring and simple slide decks as too much information is often worse to place on the screen at one time.
Dashboards simplify the reporting process by offering users the flexibility to create visually pleasing user interfaces while simultaneously reporting only the key information needed for decision making. This allows presenters to captivate their audience while also responding to questions from board members with real-time data.
Using dashboards as a replacement for traditional manual reporting has the advantages of not only holding an audience’s attention but also allowing senior finance leaders to field questions with certainty, eliminating the timing differences mentioned previously. Datarails provides CFOs with the ability to drill down in real-time during meetings and to slice and dice data as needed to respond in the most informative and influential way.
Datarails In Conjunction With PowerPoint
One of the critical elements of using Datarails as a software solution is its flexibility in providing reporting options to end-users. One of the more impactful ways the system does this is through the use of Powerpoint presentations that contain charts and graphs linked to real-time data.
This allows any user reading the presentations to open and view the presentation at any point in time and still have access to the most updated and relevant information. This dynamic flexibility creates a reporting solution that is capable of presenting information in new ways using old tools that are more familiar to audiences.
Using Datarails, a Budgeting and Forecasting Solution
Datarails’ FP&A solution enhances spreadsheets with real-time data and integrates fragmented workbooks and data sources into one centralized location. This allows users to work in the comfort of Microsoft Excel with the support of a much more sophisticated data management system at their disposal.
Every finance department knows how tedious building a budget and forecast can be. Integrating cash flow forecasts with real-time data and up-to-date budgets is a powerful tool that makes forecasting cash easier, more efficient, and shifts the focus to cash analytics.
Regardless of the budgeting approach your organization adopts, it requires big data to ensure accuracy, timely execution, and of course, monitoring.
Datarails is an enhanced data management tool that can help your team create and monitor cash flow against budgets faster and more accurately than ever before.