Are you a purposeful data collector—someone who uses data to glean insights and act upon them?
Or, are you a data hoarder—someone who keeps data piled high, unshared, and kept away from visitors?
As we close out another calendar year, it’s a good time to reflect on opportunities for improvement and transforming your finance organization in 2016. Ponder how you make use of data—one of your most valuable assets—and decide if either epithet describes your current finance team. Regardless of which camp you fall in, and whether you’re situated in a Fortune 500 organization or a 100-person start-up, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to delivering and leading with insight. In fact, without insights driven by curated data collections—used to create “metrics that matter” and made actionable through visualization and ongoing monitoring—teams will struggle to improve decision-making acumen. Simply put: Finance teams should resolve to more purposefully collect, analyze, and share data insights in the new year in order to improve decision-making across the company.
Finding purpose on the frontlines of data collection
So how do some finance teams develop and channel their passion for data insights? We know through study after study, these more frontline-focused finance teams consistently help their greater organizations outperform those of their industry peers. And this performance advantage can be distilled to one factor: better, more informed decision-making when it matters most—to achieve better-quality outcomes. Much has changed with the process of decision-making, and it’s increasingly become more of a team sport:
- More data needs to be included and parsed to enrich and broaden our perspective
- More team members are involved in debate and decision-making
- More sharing occurs to make insights widely available, ready to be shared quickly and used in collaborative activities across teams
So how do finance teams transform to become “frontline-focused” and data-driven? What’s their secret sauce to an analytics mindset? First, these teams have proactive finance leadership that embraces and uses analytics as an enabler—to help them answer those top-of-mind questions. Analytics becomes an integral part of the team DNA and is synonymous with their success. But just as important, frontline finance teams, at their core, understand and are asking themselves and their business partners the hard management questions that need to be addressed. Finally, they are moving beyond reporting activities to up-level the conversations and improve collaboration on the company’s key drivers: new sources of revenue, customer growth, new markets and business models, new solutions, and new competitors.
Embracing a culture of analytics and leading with insight
Why should finance teams of all sizes heed the analytics clarion call now? Simply put, this is not your father’s competitive landscape. The nimble competitors—many tiny—are using technology for competitive advantage and reach in the market. These are cloud-first competitors, sprinting along—unencumbered by legacy technology. Finance can help the organization prepare by using speed and sharing insights to empower the “scouts” on the frontline.
Let me end by putting this in context: With today’s light-speed market pace, historical financial data has increasingly limited value and only provides part of the picture. What you really need to do is augment your view of performance by looking sideways with daily operational data that can serve as your early-warning indicators. As we approach the New Year, prepare to be forward- and sideways-looking: Push insights to your finance frontline, and help your organization pivot to get a step ahead of the competition.
Join us Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 10am PDT for a free, interactive webinar on “Dashboard Secrets: Useful Tips for Turning Boring Data Into Actionable Insights.”