Business Transformation Series: FINANCIAL

02 AUG, 2016
by Bikash Mohanty

Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, sound and/or images, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and instilling moral values. Contemporary storytelling is also widely used to address educational objectives. New forms of media are creating new ways for people to record, express and consume stories. Power of a successful story telling cannot be overestimated. Objectives of telling a story are to inspire and make others aware. There are four steps to every effective story telling.

  1. Background
  2. Issues / Challenges
  3. Solutions
  4. Results / Benefits / Social Message 

Financial transformation is such a story , which requires clarification in an orderly manner to simplify; what is it, why it is needed, how it is done, what are the KPIs for its success and what are the benefits. And most importantly; whose responsibility it is to ensure it is in place? The CEO, The CFO or the CTO? 

The daily business of Finance Departments is very complex. And with a lot of key topics on the agenda (such as Budget management, regulatory requirements, Cost, Profitability, Financial transformation & Cash-flow). All the more are the need for "right" Analysis and a single version of truth on big data; creates an opportunity to glean deeper insights into the internal and external forces that influence company’s performance. Finance transformation is aimed at creating a finance function that is able to influence business leaders to make better business decisions. It will help to clarify the role of finance in driving strategic business imperatives, and will focus the finance function on delivering the right information to the right business leaders at the right time.

Issues / Challenges:

  • Challenges in budget management and reporting . Can't automatically track actual expenditures versus budgets.
  • Limited accessibility of data.  Current capabilities don't enable drilling into problems and issues from the desktop. Time-consuming, ad hoc research has to be done on issues to reveal the appropriate data
  • Lack of integrated internal and external financial reporting.  Financial systems required to support internal and external reporting are not integrated and don't support reporting requirements.
  • Challenges in compiling financial reporting.  Manual consolidation means that compiling required financial reporting, as well as internal management reports on the state of the business takes too long.
  • Lack of detailed segmented performance reporting.  There is no quick and easy way to look at or analyze performance, revenue, or costs at a product line, plant level, store level, or by geography. Hence profitibility can not be measured.
  • Lack of formal key performance indicator reporting.  Key performance indicators can not be tracked and reported in a real-time dashboard.
  • Limited segment-based sales reporting.
  • Challenges in segment cost and profitability reporting.  It is difficult to track and assign costs down to a product, a location, or a customer; therefore, product or customer profitability is very difficult to evaluate and track.
  • Lack of an enterprise-wide Reporting strategy.  There is no common agreement across the organization, or a strategy for how we obtain, use, and share information to inform and enable decision-making by management and executives.
  • Lack of an enterprise-wide view of financial data. 

The Solution:
A reliable Analytics/Business Intelligence solution is able to analyze massive amounts of information to provide important insights into patterns that indicate the aptitudes and attitudes of the organization. This can transform the finance department from a group of back-office accountants who focus on cost control; to trusted advisors who deliver insights about how to help the organization achieve strategic objectives and goals.
Analytics/Business Intelligence solutions bring new inputs and variables that help anticipate the future, enabling rolling views of leading indicators like versus more traditional retrospective views. More frequent inputs allow the enterprise to respond more quickly to change. By capitalizing on big data using business analytics solutions, the role of Finance Departments is moving beyond optimizing the finance function to transforming the enterprise.  With Analytics/Business Intelligence  solutions; Finance Departments can:

  • Collaborate:  For improved shared data insight, which can help making informed business decisions.
  • Visualise:  Explore and present data at a glance through visual analysis. Visualisation tells the stories behind the data.
  • Mobile:  Explore the data whenever and from wherever we want.
  • Engage:  To be able to integrate any size of data from any source, so that more time can be spent on data analysis; less on data manipulation.
  • Predict:  Predict the business outcomes through transformation and optimization of business behaviour or pattern.

Benefits / Social Message:

  • Automatic reconciliation of charts of accounts  across systems, and reduce stress at the end of the month, quarter, or year and have timely management insight into key financial indicators.
  • Quick  identification of issues and variances , and focus management time to help business units adjust budget to meet targets.
  • Instead of spending time on ad-hoc reporting,  high quality reports  can be provided to management on key business issues.
  • Timely completion of financial reports,  with complete data, means that it’ll have the information needed to make decisions.
  • Help divisions make effective, data-based investment decisions  with accurate customer segment data and cost information.
  • Stakeholders will have  real-time access to clean and reliable KPIs .
  • Dashboards that not only show consolidated performance, but also allow  drill-down to product line, line of business, and geographic (and so on) detail.
  • Information can also be provided to sales and operation functions;  in order for them to make informed decisions.
  • With an enterprise-wide strategy, there will be a  consistent performance tracking, standardization and agreement on key performance indicators , data sources, tracking methods, by all responsible parties/functions.
  • With an enterprise-wide view of financial data,  financial reports will be submitted on time and gain confidence from all stakeholders  and avoid restatements or penalties.

While the CEO envisions the financial transformation; the CFO designs the processes and defines the scope. And the CTO decides technology direction with a focus on organization strategy, which includes identification, exploitation and integration of new technologies across business units across all geographical locations.  Financial Transformation is a shared responsibility & shared vision of the organization.