Imagine getting in your car and driving for eight straight hours staring through a dirty windshield. Your back window is pretty clear, but looking ahead, it’s always murky. It takes a tremendous amount of effort just to keep the car on the road. But you can’t stop, there are places you need to go.

Now imagine doing this day after day, week after week, and year after year.

Over time you try a variety of windshield cleaning solutions. Some outrageously expensive. Others that seem to take forever to apply. None really work. You become resigned to the fact that the windshield will always be dirty.

Unfortunately, this is the daily reality for many CFOs. In fact, a survey* of over 1,500 financial decision makers found that over 46 percent of CFOs rely on “gut-feel” and instinct to make business decisions in lieu of fast access to accurate internal data…” It also revealed that an “inability to access the right financial data is having a direct impact on business performance and CFOs’ reputations.” Of those polled, nearly half said poor data hampers timely decision making, and inaccurate information is the main cause of organizational mistakes.

In order to connect the dots, CFO’s need better visibility which comes from accurate and reliable data and the tools that can quickly and easily extract that data.

Visibility

Without visibility, you can’t see what’s right in front of you. Sometimes that’s all it takes. But to seize an opportunity, you have to see it.

As a member of the senior leadership team, the CFO plays a key strategic role in the stewardship of the company. As such, the CFO must have real-time visibility and insight – a high level view, but also the ability to identify problem areas and opportunities at any level. The data to offer proactive solutions to improve financial performance and mitigate risk.

CFO’s need quick access to timely KPI’s and the ability to drill down to get answers to any question. Visibility requires the capability to run “What if” scenarios and ad hoc reports whenever needed. To improve corporate performance, you need a clear understanding of the 20% of your business that accounts for 80% of the revenues.

But for many companies, that’s simply not the case. Their reporting systems can’t easily provide timely and reliable data. Mid-course corrections, however, need to be made at mid-course.

Accuracy

According to a recent FEI article, “Five Financial Reporting Priorities for the Modern CFO”, the #1 priority is Accurate, Actionable Data.

As business systems become more and more complex and large amounts of data are pulled from so many databases, many CFO’s live in fear that the data is not reliable and may be reluctant to share the information or make decisions based on the data.

In many companies, data is often siloed and it becomes nearly impossible to find a single point of data-based truth. Finance, marketing and operations may be operating on different software platforms and databases that for practically purposes don’t play well together. A common problem we call “data splatter”. With data splatter, it’s often too difficult or time consuming to reconcile between systems and impossible to know which one bests represents reality.

As CFO’s move into more strategic roles, there is a greater need for a “single source of the truth” defined by InformationWeek as the “one source [of data] that everyone in a company agrees is the real, trusted number for operating data.”

A single source of the truth will promote confidence and allow for a more holistic and effective actions by senior management. Problems can be addressed sooner and opportunities can be acted upon quickly.

“CFOs need to enhance organizational alignment by integrating planning and reporting to create “one version of the truth” that unifies all decision makers…an organization’s ability to survive and thrive depends on having instant access to data that’s accurate, reliable, and up to date.” – Paul Sharman, Strategic Finance, April 2016 “More Strategic CFOs?”

Technology & Tools

“Technology is changing so rapidly and arriving so fast, there is a certain motivation to be cautious and take a wait-and-see approach. You might think, ‘I’m going to be smart and sit back a little bit and see what happens before I make a decision.’ The problem is that the change is so significant and the new capabilities so advantageous, that if you take a wait-and-see approach, you run the risk of being put at a severe competitive disadvantage.” – Tony Klimas, EY Global Finance Performance Improvement Advisory Leader

It’s no longer a luxury. Taking advantage of the latest reporting tools can do more than reduce planning and reporting cycles, they are increasingly becoming necessary to compete effectively. How? Many of the latest CPM systems can provide the timely and accurate data needed in today’s hyper-competitive business environment.

Imagine if your competitors have quicker access and insight into their operation efficiency and product performance by being able to drill down into any level of the business or create ad hoc reports to quickly adjust their sales forecast, product mix, pricing etc. They’ll be able to make informed decisions in real time and reap the benefits in greater profit and sales – possibly at your expense.

Connecting the Dots

To be competitive today, CFO’s need the visibility and capability to see what’s down the road to find hidden opportunities and manage risks. Tools that can transform companies and boost performance by helping to predict outcomes, provide better information faster to key stakeholders and more forward looking insights.

Imagine having the knowledge and perspective to make informed strategic recommendations that will improve performance and keep your company on track. To finally be able to take the guesswork out decision making and rely on facts, not your gut instincts.

You need a CPM that can easily extract KPIs. One that everyone can use, but no one can break. One that provides a single source of the truth and infinite aha! moments. One that is user-friendly and budget-friendly. One that unlocks your data and unleashes your ROI. A turnkey solution that can transform the company.

Which brings us back to our story…

Finally, one day you hear about a product that claims to quickly and easily clean the data splatter from your windshield and provide visibility every day. It’s not from a company you’ve ever heard of. It’s not even expensive. It’s easy to apply and works right away and only needs to be applied once. It can’t possibly work.

You try it anyway.

And now, for the first time, you can see what’s ahead! The ability to see things in a way you never could before. You can see what’s coming, the bumps in the road, the opportunities, and more.

Now you can begin to connect the dots…and start going places.

*Epicor, 2015

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