The Modern CFO must utilize KPIs and the right financial reporting and analytical tools to deliver insightful, profit-building decisions. To do so, they need to choose the right ERP system.
Today’s Modern CFO faces bigger hurdles than ever before. Gone are the days when a weekly or monthly summary of sales or inventory was sufficient. Businesses require the ability to see across the organization at any given moment and drill down to the details if necessary.
Over the next few weeks, we will be posting a series of blogs on topics that are important to the Modern CFO. Topics will include: Financial Data Presentation, Security, Auditability, and Compliance. This blog deals with KPIs and Reporting.
KPIs: Reporting on the health of the company
Now more than ever, CFOs are expected to have real-time numbers at their fingertips. In fact, they must also be able to generate reports and offer their insights on that data in near real-time, as well.
The ability to make rapid decisions and proactively address problem areas requires that businesses access and interpret their information quickly, easily, and in a format that works for them. All businesses are looking at financial management software with key performance indicators (KPIs) that tell them at a glance the health of their organization, whether it is forecasting seasonal sales, avoiding inventory shortages, finding the most profitable price points, or any host of other business metrics.
But it’s not enough to know the KPIs for your company. The real challenge is finding the right financial reporting and analytical tools to track and report on those numbers and to do so in a way that is meaningful to the parties who need to know them.
Exposing the data
When it comes to reporting, one problem most companies face is struggling with an ERP system that is incapable of delivering the data collection, analysis, and reporting features required to understand the company’s performance numbers. Old legacy ERP systems, and even many of the newer cloud-based ERP systems, have a difficult time making data available to users in a convenient way. Hours spent extracting data and performing analysis using Excel spreadsheets takes time away from your staff that could be better spent providing real value. Modern, cloud ERP systems and analysis tools can automate the data extraction and analysis tasks, allowing staff the opportunity to provide real insight to the decision makers.
The key is to have the flexibility to access the data you need from your ERP database in whatever manner is most convenient to you—whether it be for export to an Excel file, as a graphical display on your dashboard, as part of a report, or even as data that will be passed to another application for more analysis.
Look for an ERP system that:
- Offers easy access to data from anywhere in the system, so you can get the information you need without requiring a technical resource
- Makes data available to multiple reporting applications, such as dashboards and BI tools, so you don’t have to keep creating the same query every time you need the same data for a different purpose
- Enforces system-wide access security, so sensitive data is not available to individuals without the proper authorization
- Provides real-time access to data, so you know you’re working with the most current data available
Joining the data
The real power of data analysis comes when you join the data from your ERP system with data from the other applications you use to support the operations of your business. This allows companies to structure the information in ways that lets them analyze every aspect of their business, giving a holistic view of their company.
Look for an ERP system that:
- Allows users to collect information from your other business applications, such as Salesforce and Marketo, so you are not limited to just the data your ERP can see
- Gives you multiple ways to export and use the data, including dashboards, reporting, Excel, or business intelligence tools, so you can always use the right tools for the task
- Provides you with the ability to aggregate and visualize data, so information can be presented in reports and dashboards using graphs, tables, and more
Reporting the data
Most KPIs indicate the financial health of the organization in four major areas: profitability, productivity, cash flow, and solvency. However, financial management professionals should be able to understand the reason behind the numbers, and, even better, be able to predict future behavior. Regardless of the tool you use to analyze data—Excel, PowerBI, Looker, Tableau—the goal is always to provide actionable information for decision making.
Will these reports be for limited or broad distribution? Who should have access to these reports? What decisions can be made based on the information provided? How will the information be presented? Graphically? Online?
Look for an ERP system that:
- Comes with reports you can use out-of-the-box as well as the ability to customize reports for your unique business processes
- Automates report generation, saving your staff time for more important tasks
- Allows role-based dashboards, so key staff always have an at-a-glance view of the information they need
Thrive with the right financial management, financial reporting, and analytical tools
The Modern CFO’s job is never easy. But armed with the right ERP system and analytical tools, you can get to your data and make sense of it, giving your organization the actionable intelligence it needs to not only survive, but to thrive.
Get an overview of Acumatica Financial Management and Reporting, Dashboards, and Data Analysis Toolkit and contact our team with any questions about Acumatica’s cloud ERP software or to request a demonstration.