We’ve said it before – businesses today need to move faster than ever before. To simply keep pace with competitors, organizations not only need to make faster, actionable decisions, they also need to make quality decisions firmly grounded in data.
The good news is that the tools to make faster and more effective decisions have never been more accessible. Big data and business intelligence can bring together information from across the company and easily connect it with data points from the outside world. The cloud has made storing and processing that data more cost-effective. And these tools are now streamlined for use in all areas of the business.
Financial data and analysis is no different. Modern financial tools make collaboration and analysis for departments easy, providing more autonomy than ever before. But is that a good thing? Understanding what self-service analytics is, along with its benefits, will clarify the value of making this data available across the business.
What is Self-Service Analytics?
According to Gartner, self-service analytics is a “form of business intelligence in which line-of-business professionals are enabled and encouraged to perform queries and generate reports on their own.”
For financial data, that means that a sales manager can create a report for current invoices versus projected sales without assistance. Or an IT leader can review what is actually spent on software per department as compared to the current budget, and then understand how that compares to last year’s spending. All of this can be done without needing an analyst from the office of finance to step in and prepare the reports for them.
Benefits of Financial Self-Service Analytics
While it might seem daunting to allow line-of-business professionals to have access to self-service reporting, the benefits outweigh the concerns.
Democratization of data
By allowing users to create their own reports, leaders and analysts from across the organization have a better and more holistic understanding of the interconnectedness of the business and its information. Data about marketing no longer lives in a silo, but instead, manufacturing has a hands-on and concrete view into the effects of marketing on the finances for manufacturing. This can lead to a more collaborative and cooperative corporate environment.
Everyone works off of the same version of data
To get around having to wait for a report, some departments may build their reports off of their own set of data. Unfortunately, this “shadow” version of company data could be inaccurate and far from current. The result is that, while trying to create a path to accelerated, data-driven decision making, these departments are basing decisions off of incorrect information. In the end, it causes more harm than good. On the other hand, using a consistent system of record with appropriate data validation and controls ensures that all users are operating with a consistent view of the truth.
Self-discovery and insights
When line-of-business leaders and stakeholders can build their own reports and dashboards, it encourages them to dig deeper and explore the data. Because each stakeholder brings their own expertise to the table, they may be able to identify problems or opportunities that would otherwise go unrecognized.
Remove finance team bottlenecks
Most of all, self-service analytics frees analysts in the office of finance up from creating reports and dashboards for business heads as they are needed – a process that burdens the finance team and frustrates leaders. If a stakeholder needs help understanding a report, the office of finance can dig in and offer guidance. In the meantime, however, stakeholders can explore data without waiting for key finance resources to be available to assist.
The key, of course, to reaping these benefits is to have a modern finance platform that allows for self-service. Such a tool should be easily accessible from multiple locations and offer role and account-based access for security. With the right platform, teams will be empowered to make intelligent, data-driven decisions to keep the business moving ahead quickly and in the right direction.
Centage Corporation’s Planning Maestro is a cloud-native planning & analytics platform that delivers year-round financial intelligence. With Planning Maestro, Centage offers the sophisticated features needed by small and mid-market organizations to integrate budgeting, forecasting, and deep data analysis within one easy-to-use, scalable SaaS solution. For more information on how to modernize your office of finance with intelligent planning, view our product demonstration video, or call 800-366-5111.