Budget managers and CFOs are becoming increasingly involved in the strategy and planning side of the business. While this is a change from the past, no doubt it’s a step in the right direction.
CFOs and budget managers have always had plenty of insights and data to offer the rest of the management team, yet have often been relegated to “number crunching”. Now they are becoming a more vital part of the business strategy and decision-making process.
Financial dashboards are one technological advancement that has facilitated the transformation for those in finance and their role in strategy, planning and implementation. With dashboards, the office of finance has the tools to make financial performance simple for all members of the leadership team to understand.
As a tool, financial dashboard reporting can be the key for budget managers and CFOs to get a seat at the table when it comes to strategic decisions. That’s just one of the reasons being able to create dashboards—or better, truly mastering data analytics—can be so empowering.
I want to share with you a bit about why I think gaining a mastery of dashboards and an understanding of data is such a valuable skill set for the future.
Data Continues to Increase
Today CFOs and budget managers have access to an incredible amount of data. And it’s only growing as the era of big data is upon us.
According to a post on CFO.com, the amount of data a business has doubles roughly every 12 months. And technology futurists project that it could soon double every 12 hours.
There’s no doubt the increasing amounts of data poses a challenge for many businesses. This is especially true for decision-makers who might not have complete access to data or a total understanding of the KPIs that are important.
Here’s where financial dashboards can become a financial manager’s trusted companion. Mastering dashboards can help CFOs become invaluable by providing vital insights that can be incorporated into the decision making process. Dashboards offer the ability to easily understand a wide set of data about the business at a glance, which increases the value of insights that the CFO and the office of finance can provide.
Financial Dashboard Reporting: Show, Don’t Tell
All too often, as any CFO or budget manager will attest, eyes around the conference room table glaze over when it comes time to talk about cash management, balance sheets, financial metrics, and other financial reporting and data. But these are important topics that business leaders should have a firm grasp of as they build toward defined business goals.
This lack of understanding puts the business in a precarious position. The data presented in financial reports is important to decision making, including the identification of potential risks and opportunities, and could be missed if stakeholders suffer from data overload.
Thankfully, there are solutions available. Financial dashboards can now be created in minutes which means finance teams have a simple and streamlined tool set to present complex data back to the business. The office of finance can continue to use the reporting tools that are meaningful and powerful for their work, while quickly reflecting financial data back to the business in a way that is easy for other leaders to digest.
The biggest advantage to any finance professional who masters dashboard development is the ability to simply and quickly tell a story. Dashboards enable CFOs to simplify information and use data visualization to explain an organization’s financial health, helping decision-makers truly understand the data to make the right decisions.
Find the Actionable Metrics
While having a lot of data at your fingertips is often a good thing, the biggest struggle for many is deciphering what data really matters.
Unfortunately, many businesses are still paying attention to ‘vanity metrics’ that look nice on paper, but don’t actually provide much actionable information.
This is another area where dashboards can prove useful. Create business dashboards based on data that matters and highlight key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPI dashboards illustrate the true drivers of the business and the numbers that give you an accurate snapshot of important financial information, like cash flow analysis, gross profit, and other key metrics.
Dashboards can highlight those financial KPIs and let the vanity metrics fall to the wayside. Decision-makers who know what metrics to actually pay attention to are going to have a much easier time crafting and adjusting strategy around them.
The benefits of gaining mastery in developing finance dashboards to both the CFO and business far exceed the effort to become proficient with them. Learning how to consume large amounts of data and turn that into actionable insights is an increasingly important skill for the future. The ability to clarify financial management data and simplify it for decision-makers further cements the position of the CFO and their teams as partners in strategic decisions and the business.
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.