Every business has unique financial reporting requirements. For those organisations with larger and more complex requirements there’s a need to progress from basic spreadsheets to data-driven business intelligence (BI) systems and platforms.
ITeM Group has been specialising in complex BI for financial reporting since 1999 – making us ideally placed to provide guidance on the right BI solutions for financial reporting. In this article, we’re tapping into our experience to provide a quick initial guide to selecting the perfect BI solution for your business.
The four things you need from your BI tool:
1. The right BI tool should simplify your reporting
The right BI tool makes getting the right information to the right people at the right time a seamless process. When it comes to aggregating existing data, often pre-canned reports that automate the reporting process provide the most cost-effective and timely outcome.
2. The right BI tool makes analysis easy
Once reports are in the correct hands, the appropriate teams can analyse the data to find answers to key questions, such as: Where are we successful? What went wrong this month? Why is one item not selling whilst another is selling more than we expected?
The BI system interface for executives, data analysts and other users of the system has to be user-friendly, easy to understand and useful. Reports should be tailored to the recipients and their divisions or business units.
3. The right BI tool includes intuitive dashboards
The dashboard utility provides a space where analysts and executives can keep an eye on the most useful data and reporting tools. The right BI tool will ensure that KPIs are kept current and relevant, providing the best information for decision-making.
The dashboard should be interactive and customisable for each user, providing them with the necessary insights, information and data for their job. A good BI system will provide governance tools that ensure users can only access the data they need – therefore protecting commercially sensitive information.
4. The right BI tool makes forecasting quick and easy
A BI system needs to provide tools to make budgeting and forecasting accurate and evidence-based.
Get started by evaluating these four BI tools
To help make it easy, we’ve selected four of our favourite BI tools that should make every shortlist for financial reporting:
Yellowfin is a user-friendly BI tool with big strengths in collaboration. Of all the BI tools on the market, Yellowfin makes it easiest for employees to collaborate around the data, create reports together and discuss emerging trends. This is supported by a strong metadata and business description layer which means there is always clarity about what sits beneath each measure you’re tracking and reporting on.
Microsoft has a broad range of BI capabilities with both on premise and cloud offerings. Their maturing Power-BI offering has vast potential and closing the gap to pure dash-boarding and analytical products. Whilst there is still huge value in their well-established Analysis Services and Reporting Services product sets. Microsoft has published a statement of direction — intending to harmonize its on-premises and cloud products — but the strategy is unclear on how they will achieve this. We believe that the Power-BI toolsets will form an integral part of that vision.
Qlik is emerging as one of the market leaders in more analytical BI. What our clients love about Qlik is how quickly they can find insights from their data. Qlik also delivers powerful drill through functionality, where you can see both the data you’re drilling into, as well as the next available items are (and potentially what you’re missing). It’s a powerful and unique experience for users
When you’re comparing BI solutions for financial reporting, we’d also encourage everyone to look at Cognos. Cognos is a veteran in the industry, however it does still offer a complete vision and a capable toolset that can be used across the entire BI and information management space.
BI for financial reporting is a significant long-term investment. The investment, and the breadth of tools available, means it’s critical to find the most suitable BI solutions for your business.
If you have questions about finding the right BI tool for financial reporting, you might like to download our free e-book: The nine key considerations when selecting a business intelligence solution for financial reporting (PDF) And please don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at ITeM Group. We’re always happy to have a discussion about the key considerations as you evaluate, select and implement a BI tool for financial reporting.