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Can Your Finance Department Answer These 5 Questions with Analytics?

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Can Your Finance Department Answer These 5 Questions with Analytics?

Finance holds the key to strategic decisions, but outdated financial tools and systems often prevent finance from moving at the speed of business. As a leader in finance, you must understand how your business is performing, where to invest or divest resources, and how to achieve your long-term strategic plan at any point in time.

With the Wave Analytics Platform from Salesforce, finance teams can uncover patterns that illuminate unforeseen trends once buried in your data. It all starts with easier access to that data — and bringing powerful analytics tools to the people who need it most.

Here are the top five questions your finance professionals should be asking and ways that Wave can help get you answers. The new Salesforce e-book 5 Questions Every Finance Department Should Be Able to Answer goes even more in-depth on these questions.

Question 1: Are we on target to hit our financial plan?

The financial planning cycle is one of the most important times of the year for internal finance teams. Setting the right goals and expectations for your financial plan requires a solid understanding of your current business performance. This becomes more true as the year progresses.

However, gaining insight into your financial plan’s performance requires data from multiple sources. Once data is available, finance professionals spend precious time consolidating, validating, and analyzing results. At this point, your financial data becomes stale.

With improved analytics, your financial conversations look forward instead. You can then course-correct against rising costs or slumping revenues before you veer too far from your financial plan.

Question 2: What are the key drivers of our financial performance, and how do we evaluate these drivers?

Finance professionals are constantly creating and measuring new KPIs to understand business performance. But the most important activity isn’t devising new financial metrics, but understanding which metrics to care about most.

To effectively gauge the right KPIs, at the right time, finance needs information quickly and must connect the dots between financial and operational performance. Using an analytics solution like Wave, you can link these data sources and compare them. As your data evolves over time, so do your insights, allowing you to track the progress of your business in real time.

Question 3: Where are we spending and utilizing our resources?

Budgeting is always a high priority for finance managers. The budget sets the stage for fiscal planning and lays the foundation for top-line growth. Knowing where to place your resources, how to prioritize incremental resources, and where to scale back are all fundamental drivers of budgeting.

But business is evolving faster than ever, and technologies are creating new efficiencies that optimize the bottom line. That means finance managers have to be smarter about resources. Using best-in-class analytics, you can see headcount by function, product, and location alongside associated expenses and revenue. You can also bring in secondary performance metrics such as tenure, turnover, and performance ratings to draw well-rounded conclusions.

Question 4: Are we making the right resource allocations to support our long-term corporate goals?

Transparency and visibility are crucial to your finance department’s success. However, it’s difficult to get alignment from multiple stakeholders when financial data is buried deep in spreadsheets, needs to be refreshed, and isn’t user-friendly. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for leaders to come together and discuss long-term corporate goals.

In contrast, finance leaders can create cross-functional dashboards that aggregate all of your company’s financial data with Wave. These dashboards let internal stakeholders see the big picture and achieve bottom-line success. Business leaders can easily check where they’re placing big bets, allowing for greater planning agility.

Question 5: How can finance deliver value faster to the business?

The finance department is most successful when it has strong relationships with the business leaders it supports. Strategic alignment between finance and the rest of the business takes time, but having the right technology in place makes it easier.

Wave offers a new way for finance leaders to interact with their business partners because it’s self-service and native to multiple devices, including Apple Watch, mobile phone, and desktop. Business partners can review their personal KPI dashboards in Wave prior to meeting with finance to help them answer questions such as:

  • How does my revenue compare to target?
  • Am I in line with my quarterly budget?
  • How many new hires can I add this month?

Enabling all end users increases transparency and truly changes the game for finance leaders. When everyone across the business can access the financial insights they need, finance is freed up to focus on the company’s long-term financial goals and strategic plan.

These five questions and answers are just the beginning of how Wave Analytics can enlighten your company’s finance department. Download the full e-book for our complete insights on analytics for finance.

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