Finance professionals need a complete view of their data across accounts payable, accounts receivable, and payroll so they can spend less time manually extracting, consolidating and analyzing data.
Back office operations don’t always get their deserved attention because they function out of view of the customer. In this four-part blog series, we’ll discover how data connectivity and back office functions go hand in hand.
Lack of visibility into financial systems can have long-term negative effects on any business. Corporate finance departments are tasked with managing a wide variety of critical functions including invoicing, accounts payable and receivable, and revenue recognition. All of these functions require data access, reporting, and analysis.
How do finance departments collect and analyze this broad spectrum of data? Each core financial management function may have a unique set of tools, dashboards, data sets, and privacy concerns. In addition, corporate mergers and acquisitions add a layer of complexity to every finance role by requiring the quick integration of the new company’s tools and historical data.
When working with corporate leadership to develop planning and forecasting, data must be accessible, streamlined and accurate. Internal IT data management processes like data warehousing (DW) and extract/transform/load (ETL) tools can provide powerful data scrubbing capabilities to improve accuracy and accessibility for applications that may not be able to reach data silos in individual repositories.
However, DW and ETL processes also add a time delay to the availability of business information, because the data you’re working with is no longer accurate in real-time. Unfortunately, inadvertently relying on obsolete data caused by transfers and conversions can negate the power and effectiveness of your financial dashboards and reports.
Why do IT departments have DW and ETL standards in place? Traditionally, these processes often survive from the era of desktop-based workstation computing, when all data resided in-house or in corporate data centers. DW and ETL were optimized for periodic data access and routine reporting, and they can make sense for historical data needs or scenarios where data quality issues require ongoing maintenance.
However, with the popularity of cloud-based storage and continuous 24/7 availability for applications and data alike, real-time data access is a necessity. This is particularly true for finance departments who are tracking ongoing revenue and expenses, or creating reports used for analyzing financial performance and integrating results to improve corporate strategy.
Enterprise financial software is in common use in financial departments, but corporate reporting is often standardized on data visualization software such as Tableau, Power BI or other analytics tools. In order to make their data accessible to corporate tools, finance staffers may be tasked with either transferring data via manual entry or through weekly upload/download processes, running the risk of current data being omitted from visibility in budgeting and planning across the business.
To solve this problem, consider connecting your back-end system financial data directly to in-house reporting tools and dashboards. By connecting directly to data and eliminating manual input or transfer processes, your reports will always have the most up-to-date information available.
DataDirect connectors and drivers empower users of tools such as FinancialForce or Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance by connecting their analytics and reporting tools directly to the data, while maintaining the existing security of the data repository. Corporate finance departments benefit from streamlined data access with current data at their fingertips, without error-prone data entry or periodic data conversions.
Your data can be connected directly to existing reporting tools via the standard connectivity capabilities of Progress DataDirect JDBC, ODBC and OData connectors. Access your general ledgers and other data directly from Tableau, MicroStrategy, or other dashboards, with no manual transfers or warehousing required.
James Goodfellow is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Progress and focuses his efforts on the DataDirect suite of solutions. Through his tenure at companies like Progress and SAS, he has spent the bulk of his career launching successful marketing campaigns for data and analytics products. James blogs here and around the web on topics such as data connectivity, analytics, IoT, visualization and machine learning. You can follow him on twitter at @jcgoodfellow.
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