Cloud reporting software: 3 quick wins in finance function productivity

  • Richard Thelwell
  • April 15, 2015

cloud reporting software quick winsFinance functions have rarely been more stretched. On top of greater regulatory oversight and heightened compliance requirements, senior management demands for ever-more reporting and analytics has added further to the burden. But suppose it was possible to shed some of that workload—yet still deliver on all the finance function’s commitments? With Cloud reporting software, you can.

That’s because Cloud reporting software transforms finance function workloads, dramatically impacting the productivity of finance function personnel. And with more productive personnel, the burden being shouldered by overloaded finance functions becomes significantly lighter.

How? Let’s take a look.

Cloud reporting software: financial reporting, on-demand

It’s a fact: while ERP systems provide an excellent transaction backbone for a business, their financial reporting functionality can be both surprisingly slow, and surprisingly limited.

To the rescue, in many businesses, comes a mix of reporting add-ons, spreadsheets, pivot tables and specialised Excel macros.

cloud reporting software erp reporting
The reporting tools boxed in with an ERP are often slow, and limited.

These do the job—but it’s rarely a push-button, on-demand experience. Worse, running the various month-end and year-end reports can consume significant amounts of computing horsepower, meaning that a simple month-end closure can take days to finish.

Not with Cloud reporting software. A Cloud-based data warehouse constructed from a business’s ERP database, coupled to high-powered servers in the Cloud, provide all the reports that are needed, whenever they are needed. Namely, on demand.

Meaning that finance function personnel are freed from the chore of choreographing this carefully constructed patchwork of reporting add-ons, spreadsheets, pivot tables and specialised Excel macros, and can simply get on with their jobs.

Cloud reporting software: more than just finance.

It’s not just period ends that are the problem, though. One of the problems facing finance functions is that they tend to be seen within organisations as the ‘official’ source of all sorts of reports.

Partly, this is because they have access to the data. Partly, it’s because finance functions have access to the requisite reporting and data presentations skills. And partly it’s because they are seen as unbiased—impartial ‘scorekeepers’, rather than having sales or production functions report and interpret their own data.

But for the typical finance function, this comes at a cost. Namely, productivity.

Take Matillion client Napier Brown, owner of the well known ‘Whitworths’ sugar brand, and the largest independent non refining distributor of sugar in Europe.

Prior to switching to Matillion’s Cloud reporting software, Napier Brown’s weekly sales report used to take half a day to produce—half a day spent in running data extraction routines, pivot table construction, and then cutting-and-pasting.

Move to Cloud reporting software, though, and all of that work disappears—along with, in many cases, finance function involvement at all. Because with self-serve reporting, and automated reporting and distribution, reports are produced automatically on schedule, and automatically circulated to those who need them.

The result? With no need for finance function involvement—and reliable, automated, and totally accurate reports—finance function productivity sharply increases.

cloud reporting software case studies
Check out the full case study here to see how Cloud reporting software helped Napier Brown

Cloud reporting software: goodbye to skills bottlenecks

And there’s another productivity-sapping dimension to all those reporting add-ons, spreadsheets, pivot tables and specialised Excel macros.

Namely, the effort involved to create, de-bug, update and maintain them. Effort which—frankly—tends to come from the more skilled and specialised members of the finance function team.

Which poses two problems. First, when those people are engaged on spreadsheet maintenance and design, they clearly can’t be working on tasks which might add more value to the business. And second, those people are often thin on the ground, and costly and difficult to replace.

cloud reporting software bottlenecks
Without cloud reporting software, bottlenecks can quickly form around employees with the skills to produce reports

In short, reporting becomes a skills bottleneck—precisely the problem faced by Matillion customer Tullis Russell, a manufacturer of high quality security paper used to print postage stamps, visa documents, and ‘tax paid’ security seals.

No longer. Because with self-serve reporting Cloud reporting software, no one need wrestle with spreadsheets or complex data extraction and analysis routines. Instead, there are clear, simple—and above all, accurate—reports available on demand.

Meaning that skilled finance function personnel can get on with what they should be doing, rather than spending their days on low-level spreadsheet work.

Cloud reporting software: the bottom line

Roll it all together, and what emerges is a view of Cloud reporting software that is more than just a faster and better way of generating reports.

In short, it’s a view of Cloud reporting software as a transformation tool, making finance functions more productive, and freeing finance functions to do what they ought to be doing—adding value to the business, rather than running reports.

If that appeals, check out our customer case studies, or download one of our free e-books. Your own journey towards greater finance function productivity could be just beginning.

To find out how Cloud Reporting Software can help improve the productivity of your Finance department, download our free bumper guide today