The top 3 management information challenges facing today’s CFO

  • Richard Thelwell
  • February 26, 2015

top 3 management information challengesBusiness intelligence and analytics have become increasing priorities for finance professionals over recent years, but many CFOs still struggle to obtain the insights they need. Our recent survey highlighted the three biggest management information challenges faced by CFOs across the world, and the results may surprise you.

The ever-changing role of CFOs now extends beyond the realms of traditional financial management, into more strategic areas of the business. This increased responsibility makes it even more crucial for these executives to have access to meaningful data, in order to facilitate an effective decision-making process.

It is clear that CFOs recognise the potential benefits of data analysis. So much so that industry research organisation Gartner saw business intelligence/ analytics as the top area for CFO technology investment in 2014. This is a huge signal of intent from these finance leaders, who see value in implementing business intelligence solutions and are willing to invest significant amounts of money in this area of the business.

The problem, however, is that traditional business intelligence solutions often fail to live up to expectations and reporting over management information can become an extremely arduous process. In order to understand why this is the case, it is important to understand the management information challenges facing businesses, and who better to analyse this than CFOs?

Biggest challenge survey

As part of our recent survey into management information challenges, we asked CFOs to choose the biggest challenge they faced when it comes to business Intelligence and analytics. In this article we take a look at the three biggest challenges they listed.

In total 1,161 chief financial officers from all over the world responded to our survey, with the majority coming from the UK and the US. Not only that, but those 1,161 respondents came from 18 different industry sectors, providing a cross-industry perspective on management information challenges.

These 1,161 respondents were asked the question, ‘’what is your biggest management information challenge’’. The results can be seen in the figure below.

management information challenges cfo
A breakdown of the biggest management information challenges listed by CFOs

#1 Delivering self-service reporting and analysis – 39%

With just under 40% of respondents citing the ability to deliver self-service reporting and analysis as their biggest management information challenge, it is clear that this is a big concern for CFOs.

Self-service BI allows users, no matter what their level of experience, to go into the software quickly and extract information from which they can create meaningful reports and communicate these across the business. This alleviates the pressure put on IT staff, reducing bottlenecks and speeding up the reporting process.

With these potential benefits in mind, it is no surprise that CFOs see access to these tools as the biggest management information challenge they face.

#2 Reporting and analysing across multiple systems – 30%

The second biggest management information is the ability to report and analyse data across multiple systems, with just over 30% of CFOs citing this problem.

Getting at the information you need is often difficult, it might be spread across different systems, spreadsheets and sites. This makes it difficult to self-serve and access information you need quickly. Sometimes, you just can’t get the information you require at all.

management information challenges data sources erp
Extracting data from multiple sources is a common management information challenge for companies

Self -service BI tools can help overcome this management information challenge by creating a data warehouse that allows you to join together data from different sources and store it all in one place.

#3 Unlocking data buried in systems – 16%

Getting at the vital information you need to run your business is essential, but can be painful as your data is buried in systems where it’s hard to get at.

It is no surprise then that this management information challenge was one of the top three challenges cited by CFOs in our survey. Over 16% of CFOs stated the ability to unlock data buried in systems as their biggest challenge.

With self-service BI and ETL, you can organise your data to make it easy to manipulate. You can apply rules and calculations to the data before it enters the data warehouse, so that when you come to report on it, the answers are already there. Finally, you can use business rules and other techniques, to “clean up and enrich” data – plugging gaps, fixing problems and adding value.

To view the complete results of our survey, including responses from over 10,000 senior executives and decision makers, click on the link below.

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