It’s said that we live in the Twitter generation and that our attention spans just get shorter and shorter. If it can’t be consumed in 140 (or now 280!) characters or less, we move on. A website has to capture a visitor’s attention in under a minute or risk them clicking away.
That’s a lot of pressure.
We face similar demand for quality information better and faster in the business world. With the abundance of technology at our fingertips, we are expected to provide actionable answers at a moment’s notice. That significantly affects the financial world now too. Suddenly financial professionals are feeling the tug between the polarized short-term demand for more information that is better and faster than before, and the need to provide the long-term value to the overall business functions of a company.
Telling Your Story
Advances in technology do mean that we have unprecedented access to the story behind our data. It also means larger requirements for more effective reporting. This all results in the tremendous balancing act of maintaining a sufficient reporting speed while still being able to accurately dissect the data to paint a clear—and correct—story about your company. To add another layer of complexity, your company’s financial story must not only be a detailed picture of right now, but also where the business will head in the future based on the “right now.”
But you can’t just tell any story: It has to be the right story. It requires knowing your data inside and out, knowing what information changes on a regular basis, and what metrics are longer-range that only need to be visited but once a year or so.
Telling the right story is also a whole lot easier when you have the right roadmap to get you there. Most award-winning novelists will share that they outlined their best-seller before they ever wrote a word. Why shouldn’t your story start the same way?
Focus on the immediate future and the long-term greater narrative
Whether your favorite story begins with “Once upon a time,” or “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” chances are it always started with the immediate and present action that was aiming for a future outcome. It’s the same thing with your financial story. If you don’t have a clear and accurate picture of where you are now, how can you determine where you need to go next?
Determine a clear strategy with “now” and “later” goals/benchmarks
Once you know where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to map out how you’re going to get there. While some have used magic compasses or trails of breadcrumbs, we suggest you use your numbers and let the data tell you where you are now and shape the picture of where you’ll head next. Setting goals and benchmarks will keep you from getting lost along the way, or help you figure out where to redirect if you do get a little turned around on your journey.
Be able to explain what might change during a certain period… and why
Every good story has a plot twist, the one thing that has you shaking your head and saying, “I did not see that coming!” But that’s not exactly something you want to be saying about your financial data! However, if you have an accurate history of your data, it should allow insight into growth, dips, and trends over time that will help you make reasonable predictions for the future.
Living Happily Ever After
Even if you have the best roadmap, you need accurate data to point you in the right direction. After all, the best map is useless if your compass doesn’t point due north. With platforms like Spreadsheet Server and Atlas, you can be sure that you’re looking at the most recent and accurate data, and if you need to be extra sure, refresh it with the click of a button.
Both Spreadsheet Server and Atlas provide dynamic access to your ERP and other relational databases simultaneously via Excel. This means that once the initial report is created, you can refresh the data with a single mouse click. Look at a previous month, previous quarter, or even an entire previous year—be it a calendar year or a rolling 12 months—by updating a few parameters. It’s that easy. You have instant insight into your data, whether it was entered last year, last week, or five minutes ago.
With this unprecedented access to report returns, you see an accurate picture of where you’ve been so that you can begin forming a plan to get where you need to go. You can sit down and tell your financial story from the beginning. And that certainly does sound like a happy ending to us.
We can help your data live happily ever after. Ready to give it a try?