Carlson Thought Leadership in Finance & Technology

Mind the Gap...in Your Monthly Reporting

October 8, 2015 / by Ethan Carlson

Ethan-Carlson-mind-the-gap-450-600I’m in London on a whirlwind business trip this week visiting clients, partners and attending the Adaptive Insights Roadshow. Earlier in my career, I worked in London so I have a strong attachment to this city. If you have ever navigated London using the Underground, you know that whenever the train doors open and close, there is an automated announcement to “Mind the Gap”. This iconic message is a fitting metaphor for the information gap that exists in most of the reporting packages that form the core of decision-making. Most of the reports that our colleagues in financial planning and analysis (FP&A) produce include requisite financial details yet lack operational, human capital, R&D, customer and other non-financial data that provide a more comprehensive portrait of business performance. As such, these reports fail to connect the dots between performance measures in different areas of the business to provide not only a holistic perspective but to elucidate the relationships and dependencies between those areas. These metrics are vital to agile planning and action as they are often early indicators of future business issues and successes.

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Examples of Financial and Non-Financial KPIs

The earlier you can identify red flags or positive trends, the sooner you can begin to take action or provide recognition. Indeed, this is one of the main challenge areas that we are addressing with our new DataBlend cloud integration solution. In order to gain full picture insights, your performance management system needs to incorporate data from a variety of general and specialized applications and put it in the hands of business stakeholders. DataBlend provides multi-directional integration between systems and pushes the data into Adaptive Insights for the kind of enhanced budgeting, planning and reporting that only unified data can deliver. Importantly, it is designed for the business user and can deliver benefits and results in hours, not days or weeks.

In the example of a report package for a software company, standard reports typically include the budget, forecast, and perhaps a long-term plan. However, there are other key driver-based reports that provide indicators of both internal financial and external market performance. Important data such as customer subscription growth (for SaaS companies), churn rates, and lifetime value of the customer are typically aggregated in CRM, subscription management and accounting systems. Internal KPI data such as software defects, customer service response times and system outages/uptime percentages are managed in other point solutions. In many companies, this data remains in silos or is aggregated in a spreadsheet report that takes days to compile and format. DataBlend integrates with these systems, both cloud and on-premise, to make the data available via automated processes and workflows into Adaptive Insights for reporting. The reports provide a real-time snapshot and are available on a self-service basis – freeing up FP&A for more value-added activities.

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So, the next time you are spending precious time manually assembling a monthly reporting package that you know doesn’t provide all the details necessary for your colleagues, executive team or board members to make important decisions, just remember to “Mind the Gap”.

Interested in gaining full picture insights with DataBlend? Please request a demo today!

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