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How finance executives can get the accurate data they need—fast

2/3/2016

In the fast-paced, high-tech information age we live in, you might think that accessing real-time, business-critical information is as easy as using your smartphone to find a good restaurant. This would be a fair assumption given recent advancements in IT. However, a survey from Epicor Software and Redshift Research reveals that many finance executives are not finding it that easy to get the accurate information they need to best serve their organizations—not by a long shot.

In fact, the survey reveals that 44% of CFOs see mistakes occur as a result of missing or false information. And 37% say that inaccurate data was the biggest cause of mistakes. In other words, despite the availability of cutting-edge technology that facilitates access to more data and information than ever before, a lot of finance executives are working in the dark. Why is this?

Interestingly, the same survey shows that 60% of CFOs are still using spreadsheets alongside other systems—and according to Chris Purcell, product marketing manager for Epicor Software, this is part of the problem. 

How finance executives can get the accurate data they need—fast
 

“The traditional systems being used are becoming a bottleneck and restricting finance executives in carrying out their roles of providing key information to stakeholders,”  said  Purcell in this Q&A discussion. Indeed, spreadsheets remain the comfortable, de-facto tool of choice for finance professionals—and while its familiarity and ease-of-use aren’t bad, it’s still limited in what it can do. For example, it’s not automatically updatable, so data isn’t accurate from the moment it’s inputted. Nor does it allow for  complex analysis.

The pressure on the finance office is greater than ever

Compounding this issue is that as companies grow and expand into new territories, getting the most accurate and current data becomes even more challenging. Meanwhile,  finance executives are under more pressure than ever to access this data. As Purcell explained:

 "Today, more and more demands are being made on businesses to make correct decisions—and this is driving the finance role to solve its challenges. You must be  more responsive, extremely agile, and able to act decisively—and more so than your competitors—or someone else will come along who is. What’s worse: indecision or making the wrong decision? Ideally, you always want to make the most informed decision, but that can’t happen without the ability to quickly access accurate data on demand.” 

Of course, a Catch 22 occurs because finance executives are so busy working to provide the information being demanded of them, they often don’t have the time to find a better solution—one that can help them fulfill these demands much more easily and effectively.

Solving these challenges is easier than you may think

Fortunately, there exist cutting-edge financial reporting tools that are user-friendly, leverage familiar solutions like spreadsheets, and make it far easier for finance executives to perform their roles—and in a much more valuable and meaningful way. The key is finding out which ones will work best for you. 

Going back to the scenario of finding a good restaurant on your smartphone, Purcell says that modern reporting tools should and can deliver the ability to access the information you need on a smartphone, tablet, or web browser—wherever and whenever. This is obviously critical in an age when people are making decisions on the go and around the clock.

Automation of non-value-add tasks and the ability to produce more accurate reports, more quickly and with less effort, are also key functions to look for. Producing better reports, and getting them to stakeholders faster, frees up resources so that finance can do more value-add work. As Purcell said, “It’s not just about getting ROI on the reporting tool being used—it’s asking, what can I give back to the business in terms of developing and supporting its strategies, innovation, and growth?”

First and foremost, finance professionals must understand what it is they’re trying to achieve, and then choose the right technology partner who can help them achieve it. “Don’t let the first salesman who shows up present you with a shiny new toy and convince you that it’s the answer to everything,” Purcell advised. “Instead, know what it is that you really need and what you’re going to get out of a potential solution before you buy it.”

With the right IT solutions, fast, on-demand access to accurate data is well within reach. To learn more about this and the powerful reporting tools that Epicor provides, download the full Q&A with Purcell.

Posted by: Hermann Stehlik, Regional Vice President, Epicor 
 

 

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