Today’s business environment is unique and is being driven by technology. Vast amounts of data are being generated each day and to cope organizations need to equip their staff with modern solutions that can make sense of it all. No army would ever go into battle with yesterday's weapons and techniques. To survive and win they need to remain up to date with tools and approaches that level the playing field. But all too often Finance departments have had to put up with tools that are unable to cope with the volume and complexity of the data on offer. Instead of providing up-to-date, insightful analyses to the business, finance staff are encumbered with low-value tasks such as administering spreadsheets, transposing numbers from one system to the next, and presiding over ‘who has the right numbers’ when it comes to reporting results or collecting forecasts. As a consequence, business managers have had to rely on ‘gut feel’, rather than on evidence. Worse still, some managers rely on partial evidence with the result that business plans are built on top of half-truths, where the facts being concealed are more likely to point to a different course of action than the one being planned. For example, actual performance may be up on last year, but that could be due to a particularly poor performance in the past. Or it could be the impact of a special offer being run this month that causes customers to order in advance, which will then reduce the volume of their future orders. Making decisions without understanding the detail behind the numbers will cause management to take the wrong decisions. In the annual CFO survey conducted by Accenture, 28% of respondents cited that they had little or no information with which to predict future performance. This is a shameful admission in today’s modern ‘on-line’ era, and one that costs businesses dear. A survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG (http://goo.gl/ot1TEj), found that more than 90 % of corporate spreadsheets have material errors in them, and that these errors cost between $10,000 and $100,000 per error per month. Of course, many organisations won’t find this out until it’s too late.
The CFO survey mentioned also found that respondents said that their top priority is in upgrading the skills of finance staff (44%), followed closely by investing in systems to support budgeting, planning and forecasting (40%). This sounds fine, but for many staff the concern when choosing software is “Will it work for me? Will I be able to use it?” Given that systems of this type can cost tens of thousands to buy and just as much to implement, the fear of wasting that amount of time and effort is too hard to contemplate. Fortunately, cloud computing, provides a way of allaying those fears and in particular modern systems such as Financial Driver, can provide solutions that are both simple to learn and inexpensive to operate. In Financial Driver’s case this is because there is:
- No upfront Fee. Unlike most planning and reporting systems, the only cost is a low monthly rental. That means organisation’s can try it out and if they don’t like it or it brings no real value, then they can turn it off without penalty.
- No hardware / software maintenance costs. Being cloud based means there are no hardware requirements, and no software to install or maintain. All users need is an Internet enabled device.
- No-cost reporting option. Financial Driver provides a secure, ‘no cost’ reporting option to users around the organisation. Here they can access a single version of their data and create reports in a familiar spreadsheet environment. And as new results are released, those reports are automatically updated.
- 1 Hour training class. Simplicity has always been the focus for Financial Driver. The system can be picked up by anyone with just an hour’s training, after which they will be able to set up an application to collect budgets and forecasts as well as load and monitor actual results.
There are real, tangible benefits to be had. One customer saved over 16 weeks of finance staff time after implementing Financial Driver. In addition they were able to involve more people in the budget process, managed to close their period-end faster, and improved reporting to the board. (http://goo.gl/D1fwmm)
There is no reason why finance departments can’t take advantage of today’s modern technology solutions. And the investment required is tiny compared with the benefits that can be obtained. In fact Financial Driver are so confident of their approach that they are offering a no-commitment free trial where organisations can see for themselves what’s involved in setting up an application and using it before committing to the product. If you are tired of having to manage and manipulate spreadsheets, and want a better way to manage the business, then try out Financial Driver for yourself. As well as streamlining the planning and reporting process, you’ll also be able to release your finance staff to analyzing performance, and where the integrity of results are assured.