With companies adopting a Best-of-Breed approach to the enterprise applications systems for each business function, the solutions available to the Finance team to pull all the data together feel more like a “Best of Luck” approach.
Standalone reporting tools, Excel, and even data warehouses are being pushed beyond what they were originally designed to do.
As a Finance professional, you’re fully aware that every action or decision made in the business has an associated transaction that your team must handle.
Because of the move to a Best-of-Breed strategy, Finance must handle the downside of this approach. The data required for Finance processes now lies in different enterprise applications.
No matter what happens in the business – whether it’s a decision, a transaction or the use of a best of breed system, the water always runs downhill to Finance.
When companies decided to abandon the idea of a single ERP system to run the business in favor of a series of disconnected cloud systems, no one considered the additional workload it would place on Finance or the hidden tax Finance professionals would pay in trying to stitch all this data together.
Without a doubt, the new generation of cloud systems bring freedom, control and a deeper level of detail to the business functions they serve. These systems are light years ahead of what came before and enable these business functions to move a lot faster free from the drag of their internal IT teams.
As well as offering an amazing level of control and level of detail to the business function, each system includes its own very capable reporting and analytics dashboards to measure just about anything about the data in that system.
For the people who operate exclusively in these systems on a day-to-day basis life has never been better.
However, not everybody has the luxury of relying on one system for the information they need to do their job. Finance professionals rely on data from multiple systems to their job.
The move to a collection of standalone and disconnected cloud systems made some things – especially for those in Finance - increasingly more difficult. Data needs to be collected, validated, and reconciled before any of the usual financial reporting and planning activities can happen.
While you probably also have a next-generation, cloud-based system to run the Finance function, don’t have anything new to stitch the data you need from multiple systems back together for financial reporting and analytics.
While IT got new data integration technologies to move data and synchronise data between cloud-based systems, Finance is left with 25-year old technologies to gather and consolidate data from multiple systems for financial reporting, planning and analytics.
Right now you have only inadequate solutions available to gather and prepare the data before it can be used in financial reporting and analytics. An obvious and significant gap exists between the dated ways to integrate data from multiple applications and the requirements of Finance professionals to do their jobs.
The reporting and analytics tools in these newer-generation Cloud-based systems work great over the specific system they were designed for, but don’t work for Finance professionals who require data from multiple systems.
Excel is often the go-to choice for wrangling data, but Excel struggles to handle the data volumes.
Another option, a data warehouse - even a cloud data warehouse - still doesn’t overcome its inherent weaknesses; a data warehouse lacks the agility or ability to react to the ad-hoc nature of the some of the information requests that Finance has to deal with.
So, while it’s time to embrace all the positives about the pivot to the cloud, its also worth recognizing that it still takes Finance professionals a significant amount of work to turn the data in a disconnected set of systems back into a connected data flow.
The sooner you realise that existing system-specific reporting tools, Excel and data warehouses don’t fill that gap, the quicker you can start the journey to find a proper long-term fix to this problem.
A Data Layer for Finance
For anybody looking for a clue as to where they might find a solution, it makes sense to look at the new generation of data blending and streaming products specifically designed to solve this problem.
A data blending and streaming platform provides a defined data layer between the source systems throughout the business that generate the data and the front-end Finance applications that you use to consume the data.
These data blending and streaming platforms connect to any range of systems, blend and enrich the data, and consolidate all the data into a single data stream that delivers it directly into any application.
By inserting a data layer between the sources of the data and the destination systems for Finance, you can let the blending and streaming platform automatically integrate and prepare the data you need.
Regardless of which systems your company uses to record sales, manufacturing activity, service responsibility, or people’s time, Finance must account for it all.
Now that all these activities take place in standalone, disconnected systems, reporting on the business and handling financial processes has never been more difficult.
A data layer for Finance eases the workload required to gather and stitch the data back together giving you back the time and resources to better perform the processes required for your role.