The accounting department relies heavily on the IT department to help with financial reporting, which isn’t good for either party. Accountants would rather be able to generate their own reports on demand so that they can apply data-driven insights to every important decision they make. Meanwhile, IT departments are often consumed by the demands of enterprise IT and would rather not use more of their valuable time creating reports. Reporting processes that require two departments to be involved are fundamentally inefficient, extending the time it takes to generate insights and compromising enterprise performance as a result.
The good news for all involved is that data-driven technologies have advanced to a point where the IT department can be removed from the equation. Modern tools are advanced and intuitive enough to handle technical workflows, liberating financial professionals to use them fully without needing any technical expertise. It’s an entirely new approach to reporting that puts finance in the driver’s seat of enterprise performance. However, it takes a concerted effort to eliminate the need for IT assistance. If you want to transform your approach to financial reporting by 2020, follow these steps to begin making immediate progress.
Integrate Data in Real Time
As the keepers of enterprise data, the IT department bears responsibility for collecting and integrating the underlying information used for reporting. Even for experts, however, tracking down data is a time- and labor-intensive process that is vulnerable to errors and omissions. Financial reporting applications that can automatically integrate data from inside (and outside) ERP systems do the heavy lifting the IT department used to do.
Implement a User-Friendly Toolkit
Historically, financial reporting solutions were not built with the end-user in mind. As a result, accountants needed specialized training and outside assistance to correctly utilize the tools at their disposal, further complicating the reporting process. Today’s best-in-class tools are much more intuitive, both in how the features are designed and in how the reports are presented. Applications that are built for accountants first and foremost make “self-service reporting” possible for non-technical professionals.
Automate Manual Processes
The IT department has to get involved whenever the reporting process goes awry. Most commonly, these issues are caused by manual processes that allow errors to creep into the data. Eliminating human inputs by automating manual processes helps to optimize the reporting process and the quality of reports. Accountants no longer need to call on IT for help because there are simply fewer problems to solve.
Leverage Pre-Built Templates
Accountants are experts at analyzing financial data, but not at modeling it. Typically, IT must get involved to create new types of reports because accountants lack the skills to build them independently. Financial reporting applications with pre-built templates make it easy for accountants to create common or customized reports entirely on their own.
Offer Drill-Down Capabilities
Reporting can create as many questions as answers. When reports are static, accountants have to go back to IT for the information they need to explore insights and understand enterprise performance. Dynamic reports with drill-down capabilities empower accountants to find whatever information they need instead of asking IT to find it for them.
Removing IT from financial reporting is akin to removing a middle man who didn’t want to be there in the first place. Superior financial reporting applications create a direct link between accountants and enterprise data, expediting and improving reporting simultaneously. Read our case studies to learn what effect this has had on actual companies.