One Version of the Truth: Does Your Financial Process Cause Confusion or Clarity?
Bad data has become the “fake news” of the financial world. The accuracy of your data isn’t solely the result of a singular function but rather the ability of all involved parties to report and analyze your data using one easy-to-use system. Sounds simple, right? While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to data accuracy, here are a few sample scenarios that will help lead you to one version of the truth.
Your systems don’t communicate with each other
At any given time, your CFO, president, and anyone with access to financial information should be able to answer the question, “Are we on budget?” If you’re using one program to do financial reporting and another to do forecasting, those tools might not be syncing across different departments. If it takes more than a few steps to combine your data, it might be time to upgrade to a system to one so that all parties have access to the same information at any given time.
You’ve outgrown your current system
Companies like JPS Energy Solutions discovered Microsoft Excel may have worked for you when you were just starting your business, but if you have yet to upgrade to a one-stop shop, now is the time. Basic financial systems won’t grow with you as your company does, leaving a lot of room for error, bad data, and poor business decisions as a result. What’s more, if everyone is looking at many different versions of the same data, using one tool that grows with you and is flexible will cut down on time in the long run.
Your data is not clean
Complicated systems aren’t necessarily better. In fact, a program that provides data in a fast, accurate, and timely fashion leaves little room for misinterpretation. Tools that include the ability to view and share visuals in a clean way is easily streamlined among different departments so the data is easier to interpret and better business decisions can be made in a timely fashion.
You don’t have a system in place
It’s one thing to be using the proper programs, but unless you’ve documented how your processes are put into place, you’re missing the opportunity to keep everyone on the same page. If your colleagues are spending more time to connect the dots to get an answer to a financial question, keeping your processes well documented not only saves time, but also closes the gap on inaccurate data. Be sure to include where the data is coming from and who is responsible for it.
Your staff isn’t properly trained
Putting a system into place will only get you so far if your staff isn’t properly trained on how to access, report, and analyze the data available across different departments. Both version-based or scenario-based training can be utilized based on different learning styles. While it is important to designate one person to lead the data house, the process in place should be well known among those accessing the data in the event that someone needs to step in.