Why CFOs Need to Streamline Finance Processes for their teams - Finance Silos

Why CFOs Need to Streamline Finance Processes for their teams

Finance teams are drowning in inefficient, manual processes. Just look at the data – 31% have problems gathering data, 41% struggle to correct errors, and 23% battle multiple Excel version problems, according to research.

Meanwhile, leadership demands more speed, insights, and strategic direction from finance. No wonder only 19% of finance teams are highly confident in presenting data to drive executive decision-making.

This situation is not ideal for any growth-oriented organization. Finance can and should be a competitive weapon, not a cost center lagging behind. 

This article is for you if your finance team is still mired in manual processes. Read on to learn key ways leading CFOs streamline processes, cut waste, and unleash finance to drive growth.

The Challenges Facing Finance Teams

1) Finance Teams Struggle with Manual Processes and Disparate Systems

Finance teams today face a number of challenges that hamper their productivity and ability to provide valuable insights. Many core finance processes are still manual, relying on spreadsheets and email. This leads to major inefficiencies:

Difficulty managing data – Finance teams have problems finding and gathering necessary data. Relying on ad-hoc methods like email attachments or file shares makes data fragmented, outdated, and prone to errors.

Errors and rework – Finance teams have issues identifying and correcting errors in their data and analysis. Manual data manipulation in spreadsheets invariably leads to mistakes like broken links or formulas that then require extensive audits to find and fix.

Version control challenges – Companies face challenges tracking multiple Excel versions of the same report floating around via email, according to Datarails. With poor version control, there is no single source of truth and confusion over whether the analysis uses the latest numbers.

Broken processes and formulas – 20% of finance teams experience issues with broken formulas and links in Excel spreadsheets distributed across the organization. This undermines confidence in the accuracy of reporting and analysis.

In addition, finance teams often use multiple disparate systems for different processes like billing, budgeting, reporting, etc. This makes it difficult to get a consolidated view of finances and key metrics.

This hampers the ability for finance to support data-driven decision-making across the organization.

2) Failures come as Finance Faces Increased Pressure and Scrutiny 

The realities of “Excel Hell” have come into sharper focus as finance organizations face increased pressure from leadership and auditors. Here are just three challenges finance teams are facing: 

  • Finance must produce more analyses and reports faster – Leadership relies on finance to deliver accurate reporting and insights quickly to capitalize on opportunities and make informed decisions. Existing manual processes simply cannot scale. For instance in the field of FP&A a 2023 survey by Finance Trends of 385 finance professionals found only 16% of teams can run scenarios in less than a day – a 4% drop from last year. More than a quarter of businesses take more than 10 days to produce a forecast, the survey found
  • Pressure to improve forecast accuracy and variance analysis – With volatility and uncertainty, there is a greater emphasis on finance to provide trusted projections and convincingly explain variances. But disjointed systems undermine analysis credibility.
  • Auditors and leadership are pushing for better controls and auditability – Regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley place greater scrutiny on proper financial controls. Finance must demonstrate transaction integrity and data accuracy. Manual processes again fall short here.

How CONNECT by Datarails Can Streamline Finance Processes

One newly released product causing a buzz may have the answer: CONNECT by Datarails. It provides a powerful way to unify data from multiple systems like ERP, CRM, and HRIS into Excel, according to their website. This eliminates the manual work of gathering, aligning, and consolidating data across systems. Here are three immediate ways it is helping companies counter all of the manual challenges faced in the finance engine room.

  1. CONNECT pulls live data from source systems with no manual exports or manipulation – A user-friendly Excel add-in connects directly to source systems like Oracle, SAP, Salesforce, Workday, etc., to pull real-time data on demand into Excel without any exports or manual refreshes per Datarails.
  2. Allows businesses to get a single source of truth in Excel with up-to-date financial and operational data – Rather than disparate data sets; CONNECT centralizes key operational and financial KPIs into a unified Excel model automatically updated when the source system changes according to Datarails.
  3. CONNECT seamlessly syncs with any data source without headaches – IT isn’t needed to set up and maintain constant integration with ERPs, CRMs, and other systems. CONNECT builds live queries through intuitive point-and-click configuration per Datarails.

Reviews from finance teams have also been overwhelmingly positive about the ability of CONNECT to  let teams automate manual reporting and analysis processes with just simple Excel formulas according to their website. No more wasting time on spreadsheet manipulation. In particular in the demo of the product we found:

  • Wizard and formulas pull data and summarize clearly in seconds. A step-by-step wizard allows one to easily construct formulas to pull in datasets. Additional formulas cleanly shape and report on the datasets without manual pivoting or linking per Datarails.
  • Add conditions easily to generate reports in a few clicks vs. hours – Filter, sort, and manipulate queried data via dropdown menus rather than complex formulas. This allows dynamic reporting at the click of a button, according to Datarails.
  • Refresh reports in real-time to avoid static snapshots of data – Because CONNECT pulls current data on demand, Excel reports, and dashboards reflect up-to-the-second information after simple clicks to refresh.

Bottom Line

As a CFO or VP of Finance, you know the frustrations of finance teams stuck in the past using manual processes and disjointed systems. It’s hard to get the accurate, timely data you need for strategic planning and decision-making.

How much competitive advantage, growth potential, and cost savings are you missing out on because finance is bogged down in producing basic reports? Just think what your organization could accomplish with finance elevated into an insights powerhouse. 

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