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The Power of Financial Dashboard Reporting

November 23, 2020
Formula-free FP&A

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Often, companies seek out help because they are either in the process of implementing their first financial dashboard and would like advice on the process, or because their dashboard is not working to the level they need it to. In some cases this comes down to having never used a financial dashboard or because many companies are still quietly hesitant about the entire process.For those that use spreadsheets, switching to a financial dashboard where there may be a large number of options for the UI and no formulas that can obviously be adjusted can feel bare, or worse it can even seem incomplete. The shift from a medium that involves long, hard hours to a new format that can provide you with massive amounts of information distilled into a few select data points is as much a mental and emotional shift as a physical shift in how your company is run.

Selecting Your KPI

One of the fundamental problems with using spreadsheets is that it allows you to get lost in the numbers. While this can be psychologically comforting, as this has been the state of so many businesses for so many years, this comfort can be a trap. With a financial dashboard, you have the power to select a massive number of different KPI variables that can come from an almost unlimited number of data sources around the world. The largest challenge for many CFOs is to accept that their direct input and “number crunching” is no longer necessary, as the numbers are processed in the cloud.However, there is another challenge that can be just as daunting. This involves determining whether the KPIs that were most important when you used spreadsheets are actually the most important ones now that a financial dashboard is available. This is where your judgment as a finance professional comes into play, as well as where you may end up having to defend your decision to the CEO and the Board. You may even find that your initial changes may not be for the best under conditions you may not have been able to identify before.

Modify KPI Variables Within the Financial Dashboard

You have two primary concerns when you are adjusting which performance metrics are your KPIs: the purely financial and the psychological. When it comes to finance, this is your company and your domain. Often your decisions will be based around telling the story of your company in a way that is both pleasant and legally compliant. This has less to do with finance itself and far more to do with psychology. Presenting your company’s numbers to the CEO and the Board of Directors may be more effective by selecting equally accurate but more positively-influencing variables.

Financial Dashboards - Consolidate Your Data

Data consolidation is among the most important parts of using a financial dashboard. The sources of data and potentially thousands of spreadsheets from across the company that many businesses use to inform their numbers can quickly become unwieldy, even in the hands of dedicated professionals. The consolidation that happens within the dashboard allows you to easily read the results of numbers from across the company without having to rely on any formulas, giving you more time to focus on the financial health of the company.

Use Your Time Most Efficiently

As an executive, every moment of your time is precious. Traditionally, the model was to work harder and longer hours if the numbers did not immediately tell the story and provide all of the information you needed, but there simply are not enough hours in the day to do that with today’s businesses. The complexity is too great, and there are too many important decisions to make to become bogged down in documenting the details instead of acting on them. The documentation can be handled easily by your financial dashboard with nearly zero use of your time and with absolutely no “busy work” on your part in reviewing the vital numbers.

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