January 18, 2018 Darren Goonwardana

Bring home your end-of-year planning with Power BI

The new year is almost upon us and, on behalf of our Agility Planning team and myself, I would just like to wish you the very best for the season and the year ahead. Every year, we look to find new ways to improve our clients’ experience and this year has been no different – especially with regards to our Power-BI-driven Agility Planning application.

While the end of the year brings about a sense of joviality for everyone, for finance teams, this can be a period of high stress. Don’t get me wrong – I’m by no means saying that this time of the year is dull and gloomy for finance teams. What I am referring to of course is the fact that unlike most departments within a company, finance teams are responsible for yearly end-to-end planning and forecasting operations. This means that the end of each year is a time where finance teams are planning for the year ahead.

Many teams I have worked with and onboarded our AP solution to have highlighted how they depended heavily on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, pulling data from disparate financial and non-financial data sources, and dealing with multiple versions of documents prior to implementing our system. The result of this was, naturally, an ineffective planning process with insufficient insights that failed to offer our clients a single source of the truth. Thankfully, after implementing our Agility Planning application, our clients have experienced a noticeable uptick in year-end planning efficiency and simplicity. This is largely due to the abundance of functionality offered via Microsoft Power BI.

Finance teams have shaved hours off their processes by seamlessly integrating different data sources

As I already highlighted, one of the most cumbersome aspects of year-end planning for finance teams is integrating the plethora of data they gather from various data sources. These sources could be directly finance-related, like Xero, QuickBooks, and SAASU, marketing-related like Google Analytics, or any other department-related platform. Having to manually pull this information from these disparate systems can be incredibly taxing and error-ridden, which is why many of our clients approached us to begin with.

By using our Agility Planning application, companies and organizations can seamlessly integrate data from different sources into one centrally managed Power BI platform, which has built-in reporting functionality that offers crisp and clean visual insights into a business’ various operations. Finance teams can source this data and use it to make plans and forecast expectations for the year ahead.

One of the added bonuses of having our agile app in place is that it gives businesses the ability to rapidly adjust forecasts and financial portfolios in one centralized location. This, in my experience, has a two-fold effect. On one hand, it enables better and more insightful decision-making for financial planners and business leaders, giving them the best insights they can find. On the other hand, the overall planning and budgeting periods of financial planning teams are cut significantly during a time of the year that your staff, quite likely, wants as much time off as possible. Who does not want more free time during Christmas to spend with their families and loved ones?

Additionally, you need to keep in mind that even though the financial planning period may end this month, finance teams must continuously track this data. The great thing about our application is that once this data is synced onto a single version of the truth, planners can access this information throughout the year via an attractive front-end and want to that allows them to track progress of goals and if it’s really necessary in your holiday time, you have at least a very quick option from the interactive mobile app.

If organizational collaboration is important to you, Agility Planning can help

This may not be the most conventional way of thinking about data-sharing, however, using a collaborative tool like Agility Planning can dynamically bring your organization and its various departments together. After all, one of the most taxing aspects of planning is bring all these departments, and their data, together. Sharing spreadsheets across departments is not at all coherent and results in highly inefficient and inaccurate collaboration. I have to say that this lack inter-departmental cohesion is what results in companies having to revise their plans and forecast so many times. Unfortunately, this remains true throughout the year – not just in the planning phase.

However, with AP in place, our clients have been able to synchronize their entire organization, spanning multiple departments, providing them with collaborative insights of their own. By having decentralized management on a centralized data platform in place, your entire business/organization will have valuable insights and forecasts exactly the way they need it.

If you would like more information on how an effective financial planning tool with powerful data visualization could benefit your business, please feel to reach out to us at any time!

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