It’s a matter of trust.
While it’s obvious that as CFO, you rely heavily on planning and analytics to keep the company on the right financial course and improve business outcomes – your plans can be quickly derailed if the data you’ve been using is untrustworthy.
So, this article isn’t about what bright and shiny new things you can do with your data, analytics, and planning (although these are myriad and exciting), but that significant underlying issue that keeps so many CFOs awake and counting sheep at night. Trust. Because quite frankly, if you can’t rely on the veracity of your data, you need to question every financial report generated and every short- and long-term decision made.
A report by the Institute of Directors (IoD) and Barclays observed that up to 43% of those who took part in their 2016 study were unable to identify the location of their critical data, and a Forrester Consulting report, “The Data Security Money Pit: Expense In Depth Hinders Maturity”, claims that 62% of their respondents we also unable to identify the location of their most “sensitive unstructured data”.
The point being - if you can’t trace (or even locate or access) your data or validate its origin or ownership, it becomes inherently untrustworthy. If you are using data collected from a range of on-premises and cloud locations, from a combination of spreadsheets, your ERP, and other internal and even standalone solutions, then how do you know what’s accurate and true? Especially when it may be duplicated, outdated, entered incorrectly, or vulnerable to ill intent or sheer carelessness.
It's only when you can find a way to synchronise your information, so everyone works from the same accurate and validated data set, that you can generate the real-time analytics needed to make decisions with confidence.
As CFO, you need trustworthy data to generate critical business modelling, safe in the knowledge that the outcomes of your efforts are backed by verified facts, not a reliance on gut feel and dubious data. With up-to-the-minute <insert your business driver/s here> data, you can predict your revenue, optimal staffing and skill levels, your ability to meet project or sales commitments, and more.
Then, you can sleep at night. Safe in the knowledge that the number of actual sheep you’ve counted and reported on to the rest of the business (and the CEO) will always be right – rather than what could, in effect, be a woolly, ‘best-effort-given-the-data-you-can-access’ guess.
If you’d like more information on how to reach that state of peaceful slumber, just ask.
Practice Manager - Planning & Analytics - Fusion5