Have you ever tried to drink from a garden hose? Easy, right? But how about multiple hoses at once? That’s what wrangling data can feel like for many CFOs, and it’s as graceful as it sounds.
In fact, according to an Adaptive Insights CFO Indicator report, 41% of CFOs say they manage data from three to five source systems, while an additional 30% are managing data from five or more source systems. And that’s just the beginning. As the amount of data companies produce and track continues to increase, more data coming from more systems is creating operational and process challenges that previous generations of CFOs never had to worry about.
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It’s true that too many systems can make the reporting process far too difficult. But obviously you can’t reduce the number of systems your company uses. Instead, CFOs need to look at the technology they use to process all that data.
Many finance departments still rely on spreadsheets to gather, process, and understand the data they use to build their reports. They spend hours or even days hunting down data across systems and confirming accuracy. In fact, according to another CFO Indicator report, roughly a third of CFOs say data gathering is the reporting process step they most struggle with, followed closely by verification of data accuracy.
In addition, organizations are now expecting finance to track nonfinancial metrics like customer success, supply chain data, employee retention, and other business drivers that can act as leading indicators of the company’s future. However, it can be difficult to combine this data with financial data using just a spreadsheet in a way that accurately reflects the business.
The more steps it takes to manually gather and manipulate nonstandard data, the more inefficient, error-prone, and time-consuming your reporting process will be. With 47% of CFOs manually aggregating data from disparate systems, this is a struggle that’s all too relatable for too many finance departments.
The search for the single source of truth
Meanwhile, CFOs are trying to move beyond their traditional roles as number crunchers and take on more strategic roles in the company. No longer content to report just what the numbers are, they want to explain what the numbers mean. They then want to have a seat at the table to determine what the company should do about it.
However, when information is coming from multiple sources, it can be hard to know which numbers to believe. Multiple departments can mean multiple systems, each measuring different data according to their own formulas. This can lead to everything from confusion to disagreement to making a critical decision based on poor data.
To combat the data deluge, financial leaders are pushing toward creating a single source of truth for all their data to drive business insights. With all their information in one place, CFOs, their team, and the entire company have an aggregated set of consistent, trusted numbers everyone can rely on.
From many to one
The first step to creating a single source of truth is to get all your company data out of its silos. Rather than try to manage this process with a static spreadsheet, a cloud-based centralized system can automate collection and keep data up-to-date.
Not only does automation vastly reduce the amount of time it takes to gather information, it greatly reduces the number of errors. This improved data integrity allows you to focus on mining the data for insights instead of questioning accountability and accuracy.
For many CFOs, the journey to a single source of truth has already begun. More than 80% said their organization has already achieved a single source of truth or is in the process. For organizations with a thirst for insight, a single source of truth is the secret to making reporting manageable.