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How finance can drive change and deliver value for all

Christelle Flahaux Profile picture for user Christelle Flahaux February 13, 2019
Modern finance leaders offer valuable insight from strategic analysis with real impact on business operations, writes Host Analytics' Christelle Flahaux

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In the digital age, the role of finance is evolving from transactional execution to strategic innovation. But to bridge that gap, finance must bring deliberate value to the boardroom.

Traditionally, finance has been relegated to a supporting role, providing the data that executives need to set sales targets, determine budget allocations, and more.

But modern finance leaders, like Host Analytics customers Augusta Sportswear and the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, for example, are coming to the table with more than just numbers. They’re bringing insights, trends, behaviors, and patterns discovered through strategic analysis of finance data. And instead of just providing data, they’re partnering with the business to find the opportunities within the data. More importantly, they’re able to answer questions and refine what-if scenarios in near real-time, empowering the business to shift resources in days or weeks, instead of quarters.

Digging deeper into data

When Augusta Sportswear in Georgia first adopted Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) software, the sports apparel wholesaler was trying to address a common problem — the ineffectiveness of spreadsheets to manage today’s data-intensive business scenarios, forecasts, models and plans. As Augusta Sportswear’s Finance team became more familiar with EPM, they realized it would allow them to dig deeper into the data. This enabled them to unearth business intelligence that had significant value for their business stakeholders, from marketing to sales to operations. It also allowed the company to conduct business faster, smarter and more efficiently.

Real-time data analysis can have a significant impact on business operations, enabling them to find more opportunities and act on with speed. The amount of financial, operational, and other data being generated today isn’t slowing down. Companies with a mechanism in place to create models, automate planning cycles and report on data are turning it into business gold – and not just during budgeting cycles.

Finance software benefits the whole organization

Finance knows the value of their data, but there are also significant benefits from “finance software” for other business stakeholders. Those stakeholders need to recognize that Finance isn’t the only team with valuable business intelligence at its disposal. Every team is collecting and generating more and more data, but by analyzing it together, an even greater set of intelligence can be discovered.

At the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, the shift to EPM not only reduced budgeting time from five months to one month, but also allowed multiple “budget owners” across the organization to update their data monthly instead of annually, so that information was more timely, accurate and insightful.

In some instances, finance teams have been able to make real-time budget updates in meetings to show the true impact of a change. Before, running those numbers would have involved a time-intensive update and a follow-up meeting. Now, it allows administrators to receive immediate updates so they can focus on planning and forecasting. It not only saves time, it allows them to react more quickly and better understand what-if scenarios, all leading to better decisions.

The road ahead

Moving ahead, we’re looking forward to providing more insight about how organizations of all sizes and across all sectors are facing the challenge of managing the pace of change for finance The companies who can successfully find opportunities in business data can have a real impact on a company’s success and growth. The right technology and software are critical to finding ways to add value and deliver actionable business intelligence.

Things are moving faster than ever in business finance but this is the future of finance. The companies that are positioned to be proactive with all of their data are the ones that will find themselves not only leading the pack, but potentially redefining it.

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