A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) doesn’t need to know every technical detail of their Business Intelligence (BI) system. They just need to know their BI is:
- A worthy investment
- The right fit for the business
- Capable of empowering executives and employees to make better decisions
- Accurate, reliable and easily audited
- Adaptable to the changing needs of the business
And to ensure you’re asking the right questions when assessing your business intelligence, here’s ITeM Group’s guide to what today’s CFO needs to know about effective BI.
BI needs to be simple
Older BI platforms provided outputs that required a team of professional analysts to decipher and interpret for executives. The modern BI platform toolset is geared towards the end user and self-service.
As a CFO, you need to be able to go straight to your reporting system and get the insights and answers you need. You should be able to tell at a glance where sales are falling off, why costs are going up, and where other key trends are emerging.
Similarly, department managers and regional heads must have the information they need to make better decisions. The reports they receive when they log into their dashboard should be tailored to their requirements without the need for complex data analysis or time-consuming changes to the inputs or rules that feed the output.
The right system will empower those who are using it to make better decisions. The more easily digestible the output, and the more trusted the data systems are, the more confidently you can make decisions.
BI needs to reduce risk
The right data-driven BI Platform will reduce risk throughout your business. You know that decisions are based on solid evidence drawn from accurate, comprehensive data. Reports can be justified to regulators or stakeholders because there is an auditable trail back to the source of the information.
Governance tools built into your data-driven BI system ensure staff will be provided with only that information they require, while executives are given comprehensive reports on all aspects of the business relevant to them. Commercially sensitive information will not be inadvertently or unnecessarily exposed to those who have no need to see it.
A system that alerts others to what has been changed, when and by which individual ensures fewer mistakes are made and employees can be held accountable for their actions.
BI should save you money
A complex BI System can be a significant investment for a business. Yet it is an outlay that will deliver returns many times over.
Having the right BI System means not having to drop everything when the auditor or regulator turns up, as you scramble to provide them with the information they need. The data will be available instantly, be presented logically, and have a transparent trail back to its source.
Labour costs are reduced as recurring tasks become automated through pre-canned reports and management packs. Having the right information in the hands of the right people at the right time without the need to do complex analysis frees up executives for more important responsibilities. Having a user-friendly interface means fewer calls to the IT Department.
BI should be adaptable (and data-driven)
Business intelligence should be a long-term investment. Rule-based BI systems rarely have the ability to adapt to the changing needs of your business or the requirements of different jurisdictions.
Data-driven BI allows for additions and modifications to how data is aggregated or disaggregated, without the necessity for complex rewrites or changes at the source.
As businesses grow and transform, KPIs change. The right BI system will enable reporting to adapt and grow with the business thanks to a solid base of warehoused data.
BI should be confidence-inspiring
Perhaps the most important aspect of BI for a CFO is confidence: confidence that the numbers presented to the board or the ASX are accurate; confidence that decisions made are evidence-based; confidence that those decisions can be supported with accessible data.
Because, at the end of the day, a CFO simply needs to know that their business intelligence works.
For more information on best practice BI for financial reporting, see our free e-book: The nine key considerations when selecting a business intelligence solution for financial reporting (PDF).