Speed is of the essence when it comes to decision making. What drives this is good information and processes.
So from start line finish how long does this process of decision making take in your organisation?
Winning a drag race is about engine power and transmitting that into grip on the road, as well as a good driver to steer the course. In the decision making process the power is in the information to drive the decision, transmission is about getting insights and reports out to all the relevant stakeholders and the driver is you, the CFO who steers the course by providing good analysis and insight.
The right information
Decisions are driven by the fuel of information. CFO's have their foot on the throttle when it comes to getting the right information out at the right time to the right people. The trick is knowing what data in what quantity and in what detail is needed to drive the decision making process. Often these choices are made based on what is possible rather than what is best.
The problem with data is that we have to start with what exists rather than what we'd like to have. Incomplete data stored in multiple, often disconnected silos managed by different teams who use different metrics and rarely share information cross-department adds up to a misfire when it comes to harnessing data. This creates problems when trying to compile, manipulate and compare like with like information, across many platforms.
Finance are used to solving these kinds of headache. Excel was the only real tool of choice for this kind of data manipulation, however the volume and detail needed to forecast risks and opportunities has become too cumbersome for many spreadsheet based solutions. So even if the information existed, formatting and getting good reports out to the business has left many stalling at the start line, with rather red faces!
Need for speed
If your spreadsheet is taking over quarter of an hour just to open then you'll be struggling with information overload, and your chances of getting to the finish line fast, a distant dream.
In a drag race the frustration is that you can see the finish line, getting there fast is about the power under the bonnet, the reaction time of the driver and keeping the rubber on the road.
As a CFO information is power, the ability to react fast and share insight with the company to direct good decision making.
These days tools can help to harness the power of almost too much information. Automating the process of pulling many sources of information into one planning system. Using assumptions and drivers to easily slice and dice information and model possible outcomes provides trusted insight based on real data rather than just gut feel.
A meeting of minds
Stakeholders from all four corners of the organisation rely on good information to weigh up the options and get to the right decision. Without this, time slips.
People need steering, and information and analysis helps to guide those that have to make critical decisions.
It has fallen to CFO's to steer the course. The y have the best view of the road ahead and with the skills to assess risks and identify opportunities using detailed data, is part of their talent. Without it, finance leaders are driving blind and the stakeholders likewise.
The power of information is in how it is transmitted. In the business world reports and dashboards are the language of communication. The ability of converting raw information into trends and analysis which can be delivered in all flavours of report is essential for getting all the relevant minds to understand the issues when it comes to decision making.
As the image below shows, CFO's re placing more emphasis on how information is shared with the business.
Sharing information and collaborating on analysis and decision making is not only a nice to have but essential in business today. Like the race team mechanics, driver and technicians all have to be equally informed. On premise applications like Excel make sharing difficult. Cloud is the considered the only approach when it comes to planning effectively, as the latest Gartner report on Corporate Planning software showed, by dropping all on-premise solutions like SAP's BPC from the chart.
The importance of getting information out to all stakeholders brings us back to the analogy of the car; if we feed power to one set of wheels over another it affects performance and agility. By feeding the right, relevant information to all four corners of the company the key decision makers are more able to predict and react to the most challenging of terrains the market presents. Making the organisation more robust or risk being left behind.
Read the report below and learn more about the views of other CFO's on the need for finance agility in keeping up with the pace of change in the race to stay ahead.