Posted by Trey Johnson on 13 September 2021
How do you measure success? In a commercial environment, you can gain a competitive edge by making sure that your Key Performance Indicators are informed and agile.
But what makes a financial reporting superhero? At ZAP, we believe in choosing financial targets based on as much information as possible, and that means acting on intelligence. Your organization is probably already collecting a wealth of useful stats and information - but the data may be scattered throughout different databases and spreadsheets. A financial reporting superhero knows how to bring all that disparate data and knowledge together and manipulate it into targets and reporting reflecting where you’ve been, and where you’re going.
I’ve been giving these superhero lessons through a series of webinars, and I’ve collected my five favorite ‘superpowers’ here to give you a taste of what’s possible. Who knows - with this much power - you could save the world. Or, at the very least, deliver the best and most up-to-the-minute financial reporting possible!
As well as having information scattered around the business, you’ll probably find that there are already financial KPIs in place - some you knew about, some you didn’t. That’s OK. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel - we’re trying to give it a nitrous boost. So get to know your organization’s existing financial KPIs - even if they’re outdated or need some work. What we’re doing is bringing them all together.
Wonder Woman has her lasso. Captain America has his mighty shield. When it comes to financial reporting, your weapon of choice is a great data platform to underpin a superb set of financial dashboards. Trying to create metrics is no job for mere mortals - it takes forever, and it only takes one errant manual entry to throw everything off. ZAP Data Hub is ERP-agnostic, so you can choose to work with our complete system, or incorporate parts of it into what you already use.
(You might also be interested to check out "10 Steps to Conquer your ERP Reporting")
If you’re spending all your time trying to find all-important information that financial measurements depend on - things like profit and loss forecasts, balance sheets and so on, then ZAP Data Hub can help through its pre-packaged analytics and dashboards. Of course, you could keep collating everything manually and feeding it in yourself. But if you do that, you’re probably stuck in a time warp.
Every superhero needs a sidekick. We know that many users will already have theirs - Power BI from Microsoft is a hugely popular business analytics tool, in no small part because its basic functionality is free to use. That’s great, loyalty is a superpower within itself. ZAP works with Power BI, one of a wide range of existing tools your organization may be using that integrates seamlessly with our financial reporting and analysis SaaS - because you don’t necessarily want to start each adventure with a new companion, and we have a range of free apps to help you build a data warehouse that’s as robust and joined-up as possible.
(We also recommend reading "Do Tableau and Power BI replace the need for a Data Warehouse?")
Once everything is in place, you’ll want to automate data management processes as much as you can so you can run financial reports and check KPIs proactively. Set your system to alert you if you’re underperforming on certain aspects during the month so you can take affirmative action. Schedule reports to be generated regularly without needing to do anything. Enable constant monitoring to catch all those pesky exceptions and anomalies proactively. ZAP Data Hub has processes to enable all these variables and many more. If it all sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t worry - your ZAP partner will be with you every step of the way, watching over you from our secret HQ. We’re a bit like Alfred the Butler that way.
These five tips should give you measurable, manipulatable KPIs and a financial dashboards you can believe in. If you’d like to find out more, but you’re not quite ready to light the Batsignal, download our free product guide and feature checklist for ZAP Data Hub.
Trey is Chief Evangelist and leader of ZAP’s Americas business with a background of 25 years working with SQL Server and Microsoft Data Platform technologies. His other roles include being an industry speaker, published author, a former Board Member of the PASS organization, member of Microsoft’s Advisory Councils and community enthusiast for the last two decades.
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