Given the interest (and hype) around Big Data, every organization has contemplated how and why data is so important to their business. Data is no longer just the concern of the IT team; it impacts the roles and responsibilities of nearly everyone throughout the business.
Perhaps no one is more aware of the critical impact data has on the business than finance and accounting professionals. Microsoft Dynamics GP customers use their application on a daily basis to help their organizations make major business decisions. Their handiwork helps the business make tactical and strategic decisions: Do we buy that company? Do we infuse additional dollars into a professional development budget? Do we restrict travel for Q4?
But getting the answers to those questions is often a real challenge. These individuals need the ability to slice and dice data any which way within their Dynamics GP environment because not every question can be easily answered with one forecast or one query.
For example, every CFO needs a high-level budget versus actuals. For financial professionals the process can be a bit of a round robin to bring high level planning information into the Dynamics GP system, build a budget in Excel, and then return the data back into GP to get their “budget card”. This tedious process often happens every month as budgets are reforecast which means financial professionals are often left with 12 versions (one per month) of the same budget.
Streamlining the process and adding more data manipulation tools helps financial professionals to view the information in more meaningful ways. Ideally, this kind of analysis should be done in budgeting software separate from Dynamics GP. Therefore, when the monthly analysis is performed, the budget can be adjusted. And, more importantly, the organization can implement changes to business processes – what I call “Using the Budget for its Intended Purpose”. Additionally, this type of integration eliminates the need to maintain multiple (monthly) versions of budget data in the accounting software.
Another common scenario involves generating a trial balance. In order to prepare accurate financial statements, financial professionals must rely upon the accuracy of the trial balance (among other things). However, they often need better insight into what activities or spend come together within a trial balance. User input on budget items should ideally be posted into a “budget GL” outside of Dynamics GP that can be used to produce a reliable forecast for future financial statements.
In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, every company needs to make the most of their data – Big or otherwise – in order to make the best business decision possible and do so quickly. As most Dynamics GP users know, analyzing what happened within a certain time period is no easy task. The ability to supplement data from external sources like budgeting and forecasting software enables financial professionals to better identify exceptions, errors, and opportunities. The more quickly and accurately a company can analyze its budget and financial forecast, using their accounting and budgeting tools in harmony, the better their chances of staying ahead of the competition.
By John Orlando, CFO, Centage, published November 20, 2013
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