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The Power of Business Intelligence for the Office of Finance

September 7, 2021
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We’ve all been there. You're reviewing the results with your sales team, and you find that one of the team members is 20% below their sales goal for the quarter - and you want to know why.While you may know what went wrong - “Several orders pushed”, “I lost an important deal”, or “My pipeline wasn’t very strong” - you need to know why. And without additional information, to answer why, you can’t provide guidance on how they should change their process to meet their goals  in the months and quarters ahead. Finance needs to support sales leaders (in this particular instance) by continuing to ask why until you find an area to adjust and help.This is what only looking at traditional financial reporting is like. You can examine the numbers and look at what happened over the last month, or quarter, or year. But without digging into more underlying data, it’s difficult to get a complete picture on why.Which is why Business Intelligence is so important. As defined by Wikipedia, Business Intelligence comprises the strategies and technologies used by enterprises for the data analysis of business information. BI technologies provide historical, current, and predictive views of business operations.Recently, Centage’s Planning Maestro was named to Data Magazine’s list of 101 Most Innovative Business Intelligence Startups & Companies in Massachusetts. Planning Maestro was ranked among top solutions for exceptional performance in Innovation, Growth, Management and Societal Impact. We are thrilled to be a part of this list as we recognize the value of business intelligence and its role in empowering both finance and business leaders to make decisions based on real and up-to-date data.Centage’s Planning Maestro is a cloud-native platform for budgeting, planning, forecasting and analytics that supports business intelligence through its robust reporting and analytics capabilities. By integrating data from various systems, Planning Maestro allows finance teams  to build flexible, driver-based plans, forecast likely financial performance, analyze results, and share critical information across the business through visually meaningful reports and dashboards, so business managers can make better, faster, data-driven decisions.

Digging Deeper Creates More Questions ... at First

Digging into your company’s financials may create more questions for you than they solve at first. For instance, you may find that you had a dip in anticipated sales last quarter. How much deeper can you go to get answers before you have to pick up a phone or ask a line-of-business owner what happened? Probably not very far.What you might find out, after some more digging, is that your sales were off because your production fell short, and therefore you weren’t able to deliver enough product. Digging even deeper, you find that the component was in short supply because a storm in the area where the component is produced prevented your supplier from getting shipments out.After a number of phone calls and emails, and possibly even several days, you finally have the data you need to make decisions. Without a deeper understanding, you wouldn’t know whether you needed more training for your sales team, more shifts for production, or better processes as part of your supply chain. Any one of those decisions would have cost your organization money and wouldn’t have addressed the actual problem. Only understanding why are you able to adjust to the actual situation.

Business Intelligence: Empowering Finance & Business Leaders

Now imagine that you and your finance team were able to get that information with a few clicks instead of days of phone calls and communication. That’s the power of business intelligence. It can pull together relevant data from across your organization to help you get a full picture of why not just what. Business intelligence software aggregates data from across an organization and layers it with financial data and then presents that data in accessible reports and dashboards. With the data presented visually, business leaders can quickly understand what has happened and why, and drill into the data that is relevant to their area of responsibility.This kind of reporting requires more than a spreadsheet. Software tools that aggregate data from multiple sources are needed to put that data in context with the financials. But today’s business intelligence software has advanced sufficiently that reporting off of this data is self-service and on demand. It’s how businesses can make informed, intelligent decisions to stay profitable and efficient.

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