Unlocking Deeper Financial Insight – Sage Intacct

Modern software systems provide advanced features that are actively changing how businesses operate and process data. With these solutions providing access to real-time data, businesses are progressively moving away from periodic and ad hoc reporting to real-time reporting. This comes as no surprise, with 64% of business managers reporting that they had seen their decision-making time reduce over the last year.* Real-time data gives businesses access to the information they need, when they need it, without having to wait for monthly or quarterly reports containing outdated data—but how do you make that transition?

It’s important to ensure that the credibility of your data isn’t compromised in the process of transitioning to real-time reporting, so we’re going to outline three approaches to tapping into real-time data and deeper financial insights.

1. Close Faster to Improve Data Integrity & Enable Real-Time Reporting

For any business following traditional methods of reporting, month end is a dreaded period that involves a tremendous amount of tedious and time consuming tasks. Beginning your financial close before the end of the period empowers you to identify errors earlier and maintain data integrity through the period, instead of just at the end. Executing a fast close empowers you to proactively reconcile and review key accounts more frequently and in turn, close faster at month end so you can release monthly or quarterly financials as quickly as possible.

You can reinforce these efforts by using a cloud-based solution, like Sage Intacct, which will give you the tools to pull data from different entities and sources without complex manual processes, so you can keep your databases updated in real-time. Once your databases are updated, your decision makers won’t have to wait for period end reports to gain insight into accurate data.

2. Aggregate Data from Disparate Sources to Improve Analysis

One of the biggest pain points when it comes to ad hoc reporting is lacking control and contextual insight into where data is coming from when it‘s aggregated from disparate systems. One small error in how the data is interpreted can completely invalidate the analysis you are conducting.

Many of today’s modern ERP solutions provide extensive integration with other systems, allowing you to aggregate and analyze data from multiple sources directly in your ERP solution, without losing the context from the data’s original source. Built in analysis and reporting tools give your business a simple, fast, and reliable way to analyze data in real-time without having to aggregate everything in an external spreadsheet— the friend that businesses continue to depend on even though it constantly lets them down. These real-time reports can also be saved as templates so you can conduct the same analysis with the click of a button, without having to reconcile information from different sources every time you need insight.

3. Implement Dashboard Reporting to Monitor your Organizations Key Financials in One Place

At one point or another we’ve all been subjected to the dreaded master spreadsheet report: complete with multiple tabs, numerous interlinking formulas and a summery with complex pivot tables and colour coding. We’re going to let you in on technology’s ultimate gift to us all: dashboards.

Dashboards are the modern, real-time, headache free version of those complex spreadsheet reports that everyone dreads working with (or breaking). They provide a place where you can view & interact with multiple reports on one page, with the option for the data to be displayed in various graph and text formats so you can get a comprehensive snapshot of your most important data at a single glance. The dashboard features in modern solutions like Sage Intacct allow you to customize them according to the unique key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to your business. KPIs should be a mix of both financial and non-financial metrics, and the integration available in modern solutions makes it possible to leverage non-financial data from different systems in real-time and without the need for manual updates.

Financial Dashboard

Figure 1: Financial Dashboard in Sage Intacct

Transitioning to the use of real-time data for deeper financial insight is just as dependent on the software you have as it is on your willingness to throw a wrench in your processes and reevaluate your approach to data. Adopting new technology and a dynamic, real-time approach to reporting may be that wrench, but it will empower you with accurate information when and how you need it, without having to burden your financial team the time-consuming tasks of gathering, reconciling, aggregating and reporting in set periods or in a rush when you need a specific report. Periodic and ad hoc reporting are becoming a thing of the past, and while making the jump to real-time reporting can feel confronting, the streamlined access to real-time comprehensive financial insights that modern cloud ERP solutions bring make taking the plunge far more compelling.

*Whitepaper: Three New Approaches to Unlocking Deeper Financial Insights, By Proformative and Sage Intacct