3 Keys to Data Driven Decision Making

The 3 Keys to Data Driven Decision Making   The potential benefits of big data & analytics should come as no surprise to any companies operating today. Data has provided business owners and executives a priceless tool to illuminate previously imperceptible trends and strategies, leading to strengthened operations and employee relations and an improved customer experience. According to a study conducted by Adaptive Insights, nearly 70% of CFO’s rank data-based insights as the top influence on strategic business decisions. This means a significant number of decisions are being driven by data.   In order to take advantage of this level of data integration in an effective manner, here are 3 crucial points to consider:   Transactions and Data: Mining Your Raw Materials Some people get overwhelmed by the amount of data or the data sources to pull from in order to get the information they need.  On top of that, the various systems and tools generating and providing data through today’s continuously developing tech can seem overwhelming.   The key is to keep the big picture in mind and ensure you stay focused on the question you are trying to answer or insight you are looking for. “Analytics is largely about discovering relationships that aren’t intuitively obvious. By definition, the interesting discoveries are intuitively very uncomfortable — if it doesn’t seem right and you can’t trust your gut, then you’ve got to trust the numbers. That’s hard for people” says Bob Meara, senior analyst at Celent. If there is some level of hesitancy when it comes to incorporating data & analytics, just remember that goal; you are trying to answer...

Three 2015 Business Intelligence Trends

Three 2015 Business Intelligence Trends Last year brought along several changes within the realm of Business Intelligence. We saw mobile BI rise in popularity and Big Data investments increase among business owners, as well as a heavy focus on cloud & security. These shifts in process & technology are always evolving, and with them come new ways in which to succeed. The following are three trends that we believe 2015 has in store for Business Intelligence. 1. Heightened Data Interaction In 2014, the ways in which we were able to interact with our digital information grew with the increased usage of dashboard and BI software. This year, organizations will continue to invest in and experiment with Big Data solutions as the analytical advantages of this approach become even more crucial for success. The task of collecting and reviewing data has become much more interactive with the development of lightening fast analytical tools. It is now easier than ever for users to extract significant data to analyze or experiment with. 2.  Transformation of Data Governance According to Gartner, this year, 25% of all global companies will have some sort of data officer in place. With companies creating and collecting data, in amounts exceedingly higher than ever before, it is imperative that they explore cutting edge methods to control and govern said data. Data governance can be completely customized and implemented to ensure effective and dynamic use, all towards the goal of executing from a well-informed and resourceful perspective. 3. Blossoming Mobile Capacity With mobility clearly on the rise, there has been an increasing amount of focus on the development of...

Keys to Successful Financial Planning and Analysis

After working with so many finance functions in a wide variety of industries, one common challenge they are constantly facing is how to conduct good planning and analysis that is valued by their internal customers, be it sales, IT, marketing, manufacturing or supply chain. The plethora of data, tools and techniques available to finance professionals is also overwhelming at times. Nevertheless, there are some basic ‘keys’ to FP&A that ensure that the finance professional becomes that ‘trusted advisor’ providing high quality planning and analysis to their business colleagues. Clean, high quality transactional data – make sure you have quality data coming in. One touch accounting – Data should be entered once or captured automatically Two day close or less – you need time to think and understand your numbers.  Getting bogged down in closing the books will limit that time Automated reporting – you shouldn’t be generating any financial statements in excel in this day. Ruthless prioritization of work – time is fixed for everyone.  Make sure you focus on what’s going to make you and your company succeed. Define the service levels with your partners – it will allow you to better acheive 5 based on where you fit into their process and work flows Keep your tools sharp and organized – make sure you leverage the most recent solutions from your software providers (i.e. Microsoft).  They have built in functionality that can automate previous manual tasks. Ensure everyone understands the process – this will help reduce stress and focus the discussion on what to do as opposed to what are the numbers. Ensure you understand the difference between...

Variance Analysis and Decision Support – The differentiator for the future

As our society becomes more digital and data compilation is becoming close to free, it is becoming more and more clear to our team on which organizations will survive and which ones will be shrinking and dying in the years ahead.   While companies are still using excel to do some basic analysis, what is quite surprising is that alot of finance and accounting professionals are still not aware of or have not leveraged the power of data management and mining technologies for their company.  In fact, a lot of them risk being marginalized by the rise of the data scientist and being overtaken and put out of business by their competitors. At a recent course we taught on variance analysis, of the 32 attendees from a wide range of organizations, only one was implementing an automated variance analysis and decision support system to capture and provide data from multiple points in their processes to help their business make better decisions.   A vast majority of the attendees were still conducting variance analysis in excel, only on their income statement and some of them 15 to 20 days after the month end. Of all the clients we work with, we are now seeing some of them becoming poised to take advantage of the opportunities in today’s marketplace and monetize those opportunities due to their investments in following systems: Automated accounting processes (purchase to pay, order to cash, reconciliations) that leverage the network effect while reducing transaction costs to less than $1 per Centralized data repositories of both financial, performance and market data that allow 360, 3-d views of the business and the markets they are operating...
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