As businesses move more of their operations to the cloud, the management of financial reports is becoming more complex. However, there is a solution to manage cloud financial reports more effectively so that units within your business have relevant, real-time information at their fingertips whenever they need it.
In 2014, the Aberdeen Group published its “Need for Speed” report (PDF) based on a survey in which respondents were asked to select their “top two” pressures in financial reporting. The results of the survey will not surprise anybody struggling to cope with an increasing number of forecasting requests, cost allocation requests, and budget requests:
- 35% of respondents said one of their top two pressures was the demand for expedited financial information delivery.
- 34% of respondents to the survey commented that financial processes are too long and are too resource intensive.
- 25% of respondents replied that one of their biggest problems was collaboration across different business units.
- 22% of respondents felt that the need to manage the growing volume of transactions was one of their most problematic issues.
Since 2014, the number of businesses moving some or all of their operations to the cloud has increased dramatically. Different sources report different percentages of businesses now using IaaS services to run workloads in the cloud compared to four years ago, but all report increases of between 33% and 50%. Naturally this further increases the pressure in financial reporting.
How top performers manage cloud financial reports
Although the Need for Speed report didn´t distinguish between respondents operating in the cloud and those running on-premises infrastructures, the way in which the survey´s top performers manage cloud financial reports are equally as relevant in both environments. The report identified six factors that contributed to delivering accurate and timely financial reports:
- Real-time updates to financial metrics.
- A centralized repository of financial data.
- Multi-dimensional reporting (roll-up/drill down).
- Self-service reporting capabilities.
- Ongoing benchmarks to track performance.
- Business-wide collaboration and data sharing.
The report´s author made the observation that, by making it easy for authorized personnel to access multi-dimensional reporting, unit managers could view data in ways that made most sense to them. It was also commented that the self-service reporting capabilities relieved the workload on IT, while making it easier to share and collaborate on the data with relevant stakeholders.
The difference these factors make to financial reporting
Respondents to the survey were divided into three groups according to how many of these factors they had in place. The top 20% of respondents were categorized as “Best-in-Class”, while the next 50% were categorized as “Average” and the bottom 30% categorized as “Laggards”. It was noted that the Best-in-Class category outperformed the other two categories combined in a number of areas.
Aberdeen Group "Need for Speed" Report
Best in Class
Percentage of reports delivered on time
Decrease in time to decision over past year
Percentage of accurate reports in past 12 months
Variance between revenue forecast and actuals
Average number of days to close a month
Loss due to unmitigated risk in past 2 years
Decrease in risk exposure over the past year
It was also noted that the majority of the Best-in-Class category had automated transaction posting to their financial systems and automated financial consolidation. The report concluded that businesses using technology to track, compose, and report financial metrics were able to access accurate data in less time in order to facilitate better-informed decision making.
Total visibility is key to fast and accurate reporting
One of the biggest challenges to businesses operating in the cloud (or operating in both cloud and on-premises infrastructures) is transforming large volumes of data from multiple sources into meaningful information. Traditional software solutions are often unable to handle the massive volume of data and many of them require manual data transfers in order to integrate one set of data with another.
Therefore, whatever technology is applied to help manage cloud financial reports needs to be capable of aggregating data from all sources, and consolidating the data to provide total visibility on one platform. With total visibility, you can analyze data more accurately, evaluate from multiple business perspectives, and make better-informed decisions faster and more accurately.
The CloudHealth solution to manage cloud financial reports
CloudHealth is a SaaS cloud management platform that not only aggregates and consolidates data from every source in order to provide total visibility, it also provides business with all the factors identified in the Need for Speed report to facilitate accurate and timely financial reports, and gives businesses the opportunity to track costs and performance via policy-driven automation.
“Perspectives” help you aggregate information in unique logical groupings to do different sets of analysis, management and evaluation criteria. Health Check on the other hand helps with uncovering hidden costs, improving cloud governance, identifying security risks, and highlighting operational costs in one single place.
Ultimately, the CloudHealth platform can help you do much more than manage cloud financial reports more effectively. It can save you time and money in many different areas of your operations.