Simplifying the work of a Financial Director

As an FD, looking at financial data is an everyday part of my working life. It stands to reason that I should be ever on the search to find smarter ways of interpreting the data more effectively. I am fortunate to work on and in a Business Intelligence (BI) company and am in the front line of the vision to develop innovative ways to easily and effectively turn financial (and other) data into useful  information. The latest innovation has truly been revolutionary in this quest. I feel truly empowered and, in fact, I feel like a financial wizard. Why?

‘Drag and Drop’ BI

I now have on my desktop the ability to build advanced financial report layouts in Excel via a simple, intuitive ‘drag and drop’ designer interface.

Figure: Sage Peachtree’s Report Designer Interface

For example, I am currently preparing the budget analysis for the next financial year’s budgeting process. What used to be a tedious, time consuming exercise of Excel ‘chaos’ (I am not an advanced Excel user) when preparing years of income statement data for analysis, is now actually fun. Seriously…I can, within minutes,  prepare an Actual vs Prior by month, quarter and annually with variances for two years of data.

The usual curve ball requests from my fellow directors are also much easier to manage, for example, the current financial year is not yet complete and the Execs want an income statement estimate for the completed year. No problem, with a few clicks and drag and drops, I can add the current actuals for ten months to the forecast for the final two months and there the final year estimate is, with comparisons against prior year, grouped by financial category and three levels of granularity.

Figure 2: An Example of an Excel Report Designer Income Statement

The Benefits of this Latest BI Innovation

This tool allows me to analyze and better understand our financial data leading to insight into what’s working and what not. No special Excel skills are required and with my financial skills, and this ‘FD’s Calculator’ as I refer to it, I feel extremely empowered and much more effective. It has by far been the best gift I have received from my R&D colleagues. A major part of my job is to make financial decisions and this tool has improved the overall quality of my decision-making, and therefore my overall effectiveness.