Leaving Excel Behind for Automatic Report Functionality
Are your board reports looking incredible at the monthly or quarterly meetings? Is your operations team working from Excel metrics that would make any organization jealous? Do you have financial and cash forecasts that look amazing and ensure CFO or Partners feel comfortable with the short term future?
How many of these users of data, whether board members, operations team or financial executives, know the dirty little secret behind their amazing reporting? Excel and a lot of work are responsible for getting information that they need.
The problem is that you are drowning in Excel, and either you don’t know it, or you know it and don’t know how to fix it. I wish I had a dollar for every time a small to mid-sized business told me that “we are so overwhelmed each month getting reporting compiled and out to end users of the information, yet each month we add more components that look great on the reports, which will create more work at the end of next month.” It is because all of this data is being compiled rather than automatically created.
I have used the phrase, “let what you do operationally drive financial activity.”
I believe this problem exists in small to mid-sized businesses because everyone understands the importance of reporting and decision making tools. However, they are not always aware of how these reports magically end up in their inbox or web portal.
I liken it to a man in a boat that is taking on water. He is desperately trying to take a bucket and empty the boat before it sinks. There are other people in the boat with him (we will call them users of information), and instead of helping him keep the boat afloat, they are looking at the color of the boat and wondering if a paint change might be in order. Totally ignoring the constant fight against keeping water out of the boat, they design a pretty boat and let the person know if they could get the boat painted by the end of the month, it would really help the team.
This is a tough problem to solve, but I believe there is one key to solving this problem. This key can get you out of scooping water out of the boat and truly providing a ship that helps you fight through the tough waves and get you to your ultimate destination.
COMMIT TO NOT REKEYING DATA. The problem we see with small to mid-sized businesses is that they build reports based on user requirements and then start building what the report will look like in Excel. The mistake they are making is not starting at the source of data. Using the tools available in Intacct it allows the source data to be the basis on which reporting resides. Dashboards, KPIs and reporting are built on the underlying source transactions that were used operationally (purchase orders, timesheets, expense statements, billing, sales orders, etc).
If you are committed to not re-keying data this is possible. For example, if you need real-time data on cash flow or future revenue, start with the source data. Within the deferred revenue functions are initial revenue schedules that were operationally created when you created the sales order with the client. This sales order was used for billing, signing the contract and projecting future revenue, billing and costs to be incurred. This was created operationally to get the client to sign the contract and billing schedule. Use that to drive your data.
The underlying deferred revenue or billing schedules become the basis for decision making forecasting like:
The data then becomes the driver of the dashboard, so that no information is re-keyed into a nice reporting format. You end up driving information that is actionable within the organization and you can stop spending your time scooping water out of the boat. Now you may actually have time to look at repainting a few things on the boat.
If you are the man on the boat, creating beautiful reports from Excel but at too high a cost, give One Vision a call. We can determine the cost-savings you would experience with a role-based dashboard designed to put your data to work.