Business Insights for Today’s Financial Professionals: How Does Your ERP Measure Up?
As more businesses move to advanced technologies, the pace of doing business has increased. Competitors are becoming more agile. Smaller, more nimble organizations can penetrate markets as disruptors, leaving established firms scratching their heads bewildered. Is your business able to evaluate changing market trends and adapt quickly?
Old School is Just Plain Old
There was a time when having the finance team generate Excel spreadsheet after spreadsheet that was then flipped and manipulated into a report with pie charts and graphs that showed performance over the last month, or quarter, or year, or year over year.
That process is time consuming and error-prone. Worse, most of the time the information is not even actionable. How relevant is a report that shows sales figures or popular selling items from three months ago?
And yet, businesses all over the world continue to lock their finance team in a room for days at a time only to run the same drill over and over again.
Are the hours spent generating these spreadsheets and reports really giving your leadership team the insights they need?
Data in Real Time
There is a better way.
Let’s face it: Once data has been exported from an ERP system into an Excel spreadsheet, it is no longer current, nor is it tied to your accounting system. Having access to data in real time within the ERP environment means that the analysis is being performed on truly up-to-the-minute data.
Today’s ERP systems, like Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, allow users to access information across the business in real time. Moreover, the financial team can analyze that data with modern business intelligence tools, like Microsoft Power BI, and look even deeper using artificial intelligence and machine learning tools available in Microsoft’s Power Platform and Azure.
Making Sense of the Data
So, whether we’re talking about big data or little data, what do we do with all this information?
The goal of the financial team is not to simply generate quarterly profit and loss statements, but to look into what those numbers are actually telling them and translating them for the leadership team. Rather than having your accounting staff spend their time extracting data and manipulating Excel spreadsheets to generate reports, leverage your ERP to do that work for you and let your staff use that time to offer true insights into your organization.
Looking Past the Numbers
Lagging indicators show what happened in the past. Leading indicators predict what will happen in the future.
Reporting on past sales or revenue performance is not useful without insight into future performance. Financial professionals should be able to explain why past events occurred and offer prescriptive actions to the management team to improve performance.
Rather than measuring how well your organization met a particular set of Key Performance Indicators, Business Intelligence coupled with AI lets you develop strategies to overcome obstacles and achieve those KPIs. BI helps you visualize the data and identify future trends for your business. BI also helps you identify customer behaviors and track those products and channels that drive the most revenue. Organizations have successfully used BI to improve the customer experience, shorten the buying cycle, improve warehouse efficiency, and optimize the procurement process.
Making Actionable Data Understandable
Once the financial team has worked to uncover the meaning behind the numbers, they need to translate this information in a way that makes sense not only to the leadership team, but the department leads as well.
For example, the warehouse manager won’t be interested in whether you use FIFO vs LIFO costing methods as much as he or she will be interested in optimizing their operation. How will your team’s insights be used to improve that individual’s area of responsibility and, by extension, the company’s overall financial performance?
Leverage Technology to Stay Ahead
As a financial professional, you face many challenges. But there are tools available to automate the repetitive tasks of you and your team that will give you more time to analyze the raw data from your financial systems and offer actionable insights for your leadership team.
The best way to accomplish that is to make your company’s financial information relevant to the people who hold leadership roles within the organization and to present it in a way they can understand it.
ArcherPoint is equipped with the know-how to help you get the actionable insights you need out of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and NAV. Contact us today to get started.