A fix for frazzled Finance Teams

1 February 2017 - #cpm #bi #software

By Catherine Wilks, Data Assurance Senior Manager at PwC

We are increasingly seeing finance teams struggle to manage their organisation’s performance management in Excel.  At the rate at which the volumes of data are increasing, it is questionable whether Excel should be the tool of choice for finance.  All is not lost though as cost effective alternatives are available, as this article will demonstrate one such solution. 

We see an incredibly large amount of time spent by the finance team performing reconciliations, monitoring cashflow and manually performing consolidations.  In our opinion these are tasks which lend themselves to technology far more than humans, and automating these can free up time for the finance team to focus on more value added activities.  We also see multiple versions of the truth due to deficient version control over the various key spreadsheets used by finance.  Typically board packs are prepared manually each month, even though they have a consistent format, which is not only costly and inefficient but prone to errors.  The increased risk of poor business decisions as a result of incorrect Management Information from these practices is difficult to quantify but estimated to be large.

We have worked with a range of clients to select and implement the right tool for Business Intelligence and Management Information, and a number of our clients are turning to a software called BOARD.  This is because BOARD is a flexible tool which can be used for both business reporting and financial forecasting.  Most other modern Business Intelligence and Analysis tools do not allow the users to enter additional data or make adjustments.  It has very competitive licence fees, is simple to use by teams in the business with limited technical knowledge, and does not require a heavy involvement from IT.

The use of BOARD has transformed some of our clients’ businesses by allowing financial consolidation at the touch of a button and a robust and auditable process for the preparation of budgets and forecasts.  In addition it allows the automated production of board and Management Information packs.  Packs using the Microsoft Office suite will be automatically updated with data from BOARD, and can be interrogated and drilled into live during meetings.  The overarching benefit is a single source of the truth for information across the business which allows greater insights into financial and operational data and more robust decision making.

We have supported a fast growing utilities organisation who had historically carried out financial consolidation entirely in Excel spreadsheets. The finance staff struggled with a process which required a high level of dependency on their IT function, a significant amount of manual effort particularly around intercompany eliminations and which lacked the ability to ‘see behind the numbers’.  We carried out a ‘Specification and Selection’ exercise to help the client choose the best solution for their business needs. After demonstrations, the client selected BOARD as being their preferred solution ahead of a number of other tools.  We have since implemented the new financial consolidation tool in BOARD which allows the finance staff to quickly produce consolidated group accounts with automated intercompany eliminations as well as the ability to post adjustments in a highly controlled environment. The tool uses data pulled directly from the client’s accounting systems and budget spreadsheets and has the ability to ‘drill down’ into the nominal ledger detail which sits behind this.

Overall, utilising technologies such as BOARD to enable the automation of financial planning and reporting can save time, money and your frazzled finance teams.


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