Whether finance leaders are presenting to the board or to the C-suite, stakes are high. Yet too often the finance team pulls together presentations with outdated tools, which ensures results will be stale, sloppy, or downright wrong.
And whether it’s an annual presentation or a one-off ask, a giant audience or a small gathering, having the wrong info glowing on the slide is a surefire way to look like a novice, no matter how much time your team has poured into the data.
Ready to put those lousy presentations to bed? Here are three main reasons finance leaders flop when standing at the front of the room—and how you can make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
The flop: You rely entirely on Excel
Finance teams that rely on Excel waste valuable time cobbling together information and trying to make sense of custom formulas and macros created by predecessors. By the time the information is collected and massaged into the spreadsheet, it’s already outdated. Such a system also leads to larger margins of error, as the odds of missing a slide or a data row are incredibly high.
In fact, according to MarketWatch, about 88% of spreadsheets contain errors. The only way to safeguard against a slip is to manually double-check the updates, which eats away at the time the team has left for deeper analysis. The result? A presentation with old, possibly incorrect information that fails to identify and fix problems or refine strategies. Not exactly a home run.
The fix: A solution, like Adaptive OfficeConnect, that allows you to update slides and board books with the latest data with a click of a button. Instead of struggling through Excel reformatting every time you update your numbers, you receive a presentation-quality report instantly.
The flop: Your formatting is off
Even if a finance team spends hours making columns and charts just-so in Excel, moving that information over to PowerPoint or Word leaves your report vulnerable to a formatting glitch. Reports these days are incredibly complex, as heightened regulations must be balanced against the need to present relevant info to all stakeholders. Yet no matter how carefully you cut and paste, you’ve no doubt experienced the embarrassment of overlooking some bit of formatting. One small mistake translates to a sloppy presentation that can call into question the veracity of the data.
The fix: Stop toggling between different programs. A cloud solution like Adaptive OfficeConnect lets you refresh your text and tables automatically and formats everything effortlessly. You can instantly unify data across all your sources, leading to a single consistent view that helps management make good decisions.
The flop: Your analysis is so-so
Manually pulling together slides or presentations, then double- and triple-checking the data and formatting, can take an incredible amount of time. No wonder your finance team doesn’t have the hours left in the day to devote to deeper analysis and strategic thinking. Some 63% of CFOs in a 2015 Adaptive Insights CFO Indicator report said they don’t have time for data analysis, a major speed bump on the path to becoming a trusted leader. Sure, you’re beaming with pride that every data point has been triple-verified—but can you tell the story behind the data? Can you offer insights when the conversation turns strategic? If not, even the prettiest presentation isn’t truly successful.
The fix: Automate your presentations as much as possible, so you can free up more time for analysis. That means alongside a beautiful board book or slides, you’ll be presenting your true value: data-driven insights, insightful analysis, and strategic recommendations.
Our CFO Indicator Q3 2017 survey explores CFOs’ confidence relative to data and technology, as well as their progress in moving toward a “single source of truth” (single source of financial and operational data). Results reveal that Finance has successfully cleared what we believe to be one of the most significant hurdles—their hesitancy to store data in the cloud. Read our other CFO Indicator reports here.