Excel Planning

Your Reference for Accelerating ERP Financial Processes

As one of the world’s foremost business consulting firms, people take notice when McKinsey decides to change how it evaluates companies. At the beginning of 2013, evaluations were based on 37 criteria, each considered to be a key indicator of organizational health. By the end of 2014, McKinsey consultants were including two new criteria considered crucial for 21st-century businesses: speed and flexibility.

In today’s unpredictable economy, it comes as no surprise that businesses need to be adaptable. Much harder to figure out is how companies can anticipate what’s coming next and prepare as early as possible. This problem runs so deep that only 4 percent of respondents to the world’s largest survey on enterprise agility report that “agile practices” actually make their organizations more responsive to changing market conditions.

We could spend hours exploring why agility is so hard to achieve. However, the root of the issue is what really matters, and in most cases, poor financial reporting is to blame.

Adaptability is about arriving at decisions quickly and acting on them confidently. Since financial reports (ideally) offer a window into all aspects of company performance, both inside and outside finance, they give decision-makers invaluable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the company as well as the obstacles and opportunities on the horizon. Great reporting makes it clear what to do next, but anything less does the opposite.

Illustration of a man standing at a cross roads.

This is good news and bad news. It’s bad news because financial reporting is a struggle at many companies. It takes hours (or days) of work and distracts members of the finance team from other responsibilities. Yet despite all that effort, the process often produces reports that are unclear, incomplete, or outdated. Decision-makers may have reports to work with, but they can do little if anything to actually improve agility or outcomes.

Difficult as financial reporting may be, the good news is that gaining deeper insights in less time is easier than companies may expect. Technology has revolutionized reporting, and for companies that take advantage of the technology, reports are a major asset. Companies with outstanding reporting also tend to be among the most agile in their respective industries. This helps to underline the close link between best-in-class reporting and highly-competitive companies.

Companies eager to improve reporting need to embrace technology, but choosing the right reporting tool is key. After all, most companies already have reporting tools. Popular ERP products offer built-in reporting capabilities, and when those don’t suffice, companies may concoct their own inside Excel. However, even with these tools at their disposal, companies fail to produce the reports they need when they need them. This has many consequences, including the loss of agility.

No matter which reporting tool(s) you currently rely on, insightsoftware offers an upgrade. We have developed a suite of products that are tailored to integrate with different ERP ecosystems, and all of which offer optimized reporting capabilities. Across the lineup, tools from insightsoftware make reporting easy enough so that anyone can explore data at will and find insights on demand.

Arming decision-makers across the enterprise with the best, most current information helps them bring the future into focus while making the right course of action clear. In that way, these reporting tools make companies more agile and more accomplished simultaneously.

Agile.

Rather than continue to talk about the various tools as one, we thought it would be helpful to explore each individually. Though they share many of the same capabilities and deliver reports of equally high-caliber, insightsoftware designs each one for unique users with specific needs. Which one is right for you? Consider the whole lineup:

Atlas

Designed to integrate with Microsoft Dynamics, Atlas takes reporting out of the ERP environment and moves it somewhere more conducive to exploring data: Excel. Data goes automatically from the ERP into Excel where it’s slotted into pre-built (and user-customized) reporting templates. Once the parameters are established, the process happens autonomously and continuously. Instead of “reporting,” those at the helm of the organization simply access the up-to-the-minute insights they need to inform the next decision.

CXO Software

Companies that operate within the Oracle, SAP, or Microsoft EPM ecosystems can all rely on CXO Software to perfect reporting. Thanks to the easy implementation requirements and intuitive user interface, improvements come quickly. CXO Software works across information ecosystems, meaning it’s able to combine financial and operational data in one report and shine a light on all aspects of enterprise performance. If agility is about seeing everything forthcoming, this product offers the ideal perspective.

Hubble

Reporting tools packaged with Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) and JD Edwards ERP are so technical that the IT team has to become involved. Hubble removes the IT team from the equation by offering users at all levels a reporting toolkit that’s simple enough to facilitate true self-serve reporting. Without needing extensive training, specialized assistance, or hours of free time, users can create reports rich in depth and detail. That way, decisions don’t have to wait on data.

Wands

Also known as Excel4Apps, Wands integrates with Oracle and SAP ERPs to expedite the reporting process. Like most of the offerings from insightsoftware, this one automates vast amounts of work that used to be done manually. This saves a lot of time and prevents a lot of errors, so much so that companies can begin leveraging real-time reporting. Instead of looking at what happened in the past, they can closely observe what’s unfolding in the present and use it to make plans for the future.

Jet

Jet is really its own suite of reporting and enterprise performance management tools. It’s engineered to work alongside Microsoft Dynamics, and it has individual modules for reporting, analytics, budgeting, and more. Agile organizations need visibility and control over everything they do. By offering so many solutions under one umbrella, Jet enables companies to get complete access to accurate, controlled business data, anywhere.

Spreadsheet Server

Virtually all the most-popular ERP products on the market are compatible with Spreadsheet Server. That’s just one example of how this solution makes optimized reporting as accessible as possible. Locating facts and figures, integrating data sets, building reports, and enhancing them with visualizations are all user-friendly processes that utilize automation as much as possible. In that way, Spreadsheet Server seamlessly replaces questions with answers.

In the five years since McKinsey began tracking speed and flexibility, these qualities have become more important than ever. Instead of falling behind, sprint to the head of the pack using tools from insightsoftware. When you’re ready to learn more about anything or everything, please contact us.