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Many finance organizations are too reliant on historical data. A more accurate, timely financial information holds the potential to drive critical decision-making that keeps organizations competitive. Learn the four steps that help you achieve it.

Finance organizations provide critical insight into the organizational performance that goes well beyond a general month- or quarter-end reporting and adds true value when delivered nearer to real-time. Yet many are too reliant on historical data pulled from disparate, legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and lack the ability to analyze and inform the business using information captured, analyzed and presented instantly. 

Through continuous analysis of financial performance, businesses can gain valuable information such as abnormal expenditures in a business unit or expense code, sales dips, or revenue booked on a product or service. This can support strategic decisions like cost compliance or adjusting sales channels based on market demand.

Access to real-time intelligence is essential for organizations to derive the right level of business value from their finance function. To achieve this, finance organizations must standardize processes and digitize their operations, specifically for receivables, payables and management reporting. To help CFOs adopt real-time intelligence, we recommend the following four actions:

  • Identify activities that may be executed in real-time. Review the entire period-close activity cycle to identify activities that may be executed in real-time, estimated more accurately, or resolved continuously. Identify these areas by scrutinizing input and output feeds and dependencies for the sub-processes. 
  • Assess technical capabilities and limitations. Determine if the finance technology system is equipped to generate or facilitate real-time views and analyses of financial performance by evaluating the quality, readiness or availability and timing of output from existing enterprise systems and transactional applications vis-a-vis that of market-leading systems.
  • Adopt intelligent robotics and advanced analytics. Apply artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled robotics (intelligent process automation) at appropriate points in the finance processes, using advanced analytics with predictive insights on the right set of connected data based on digital roadmaps and automation strategies for individual finance areas.
  • Use an integration layer to integrate and standardize data. Standardization and integration of data across disparate ERP systems, including legacy systems, is key to robust control of the underlying data for such intelligence. Many organizations may choose to migrate multiple ERP systems to a single ERP instance, which can be an elaborate, lengthy and costly initiative. Instead, establish a cloud-based integration layer that consolidates and unifies all transactions from multiple ERP systems.

Have we done anything similar for any of our clients? Yes, as an example, we helped a global water technology company that sought a consolidated view of its finance function. We applied a cloud-based integration layer to control the data exchange among more than 80 ERP instances and orchestrated it with a system of engagement (SOE)-based transaction layer. A dashboard enabled the CFO to drill down into the data, providing real-time visibility across more than 20 countries and five business units. The solution delivered dynamic and controlled data exchange, real-time visibility and a reported 50% savings in total cost of operations.

If you'd like to learn more about achieving real-time intelligence, please read more here or visit our Finance and Accounting section on the web.

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