How do you compel your IT team to spend more time getting data to your financial planning and analysis (FP&A) team?
This question was asked by an attendee at our recent webinar, “Building Resilience with Agile, Adaptive, and Continuous FP&A,” and it’s a good one. To get right down to it, the question speaks to a common frustration among today’s FP&A teams: lack of empowerment to quickly solve some of the thorniest challenges they face.
Having operational data readily available and easily consumable has become critical to financial decision making. To get the job done, FP&A teams need detailed insights on a daily basis, or sometimes even on an hourly basis. They need to be able to get immediate answers to unanticipated questions, and they need to be able to pursue those lines of inquiry and turn them into insights. Ideally, they have access to detailed transaction-level data, not just aggregated data or top-line dashboards.
Having detailed data allows FP&A teams to do several critical things: They can determine whether reports and dashboards are correct. They can find patterns and identify root causes that are creating variances. And, they can use this data to power advanced analytics use cases, such as using machine learning to generate predictive or prescriptive analytics.
But getting their hands on that kind of data in a timely manner is tough. Data pipelines are becoming more unwieldy and complex. The volume and velocity of data coming in from ERP and other operating systems is overwhelming. There’s a lot of data to be had, but not all of it is available for insight or decision making. Even if IT could do more, they are still confined by the limitations of so-called modern data architecture.
Delivering data through a “modern” pipeline is a multi-step process that requires the data to pass through many tools and transformations before being delivered to finance in an aggregated, reshaped form. Not only does that process take a long time, much of the detailed data is stripped away. This limits the depth and types of analysis that can be performed, the speed with which it can be performed, and the ability to verify accuracy. You’re stuck working with aggregations and a subset of data.
This is an ongoing source of friction with IT for many finance organizations, but leaning harder on IT isn’t the answer. The answer is to fix the underlying architecture.
Incorta makes it possible for FP&A teams to connect directly to ERP and other source systems. One hundred percent of the source data is available for analysis. The transformation process is all but eliminated, as the schema is assembled at the query time using Incorta’s Direct Data Mapping™ technology.
With Incorta, all of your data is in a single hub. Everyone in the finance organization can work with the same data sets in a trusted environment, while IT still maintains control over security and data governance. Once data is on the platform, you can significantly accelerate the creation of reports and dashboards using Incorta data applications. One Incorta customer — the world’s largest coffee retailer — which had planned a 12 to 18 month analytics implementation was able to cut the timeline down to 10 weeks.
Incorta can also work in concert with other reporting and visualization tools such as Tableau and Power BI. You can even provide data to machine learning applications for training algorithms that can be used and for predictive analytics.
At the end of the day, Incorta gives finance teams way more flexibility and agility for forecasting and planning. Broadcom, for instance, saw a 96% increase in the rows of available data they were able to access within four seconds. They were able to expand from only a handful of data refreshes a day to as many as 96, allowing them to answer so many more questions and generate far more insights.
The demo portion of the webinar shows how to connect to an Oracle data source and bring the data into Incorta. We demonstrate how to apply a Blueprint to expedite dashboard creation — using some accounts receivable and cash cycle content, showing how Incorta’s semantic layer works to make the data easily consumable, and how to drill down into the details.
Many finance and IT teams are spending up to 80% of their time just trying to get data into in a usable fashion — extracting data out of one tool, joining tables, and bringing it over into another tool. There’s a lot of manual work just to get to something that is even usable. But it still falls short of delivering the detailed data and unlimited ability to query it that FP&A teams really need in order to make critical business decisions.
They might think they need IT to build a bigger, faster pipeline. But what they really need is faster access to more and better data. The best way to do that is to eliminate the pipeline altogether, and the friction between IT and finance along with it.