Financial reporting is a realistic necessity. Whether it be for the sake of regulatory compliance, management reporting or simply in order to understand how well the business is doing month after month. Despite the importance of financial reporting, the way in which it is often derived can be cumbersome.

Even moderately sized businesses often use multiple financial tools and platforms such as Xero, Salesforce, Oracle, Kepion or one of many others that comprise their finance landscape. With limited data integration capabilities between systems, when the need for a report arises, the ultimate stopgap tool is typically brought out: the Excel spreadsheet.

Excel Spreadsheets for Financial Reporting

When the data is sourced from multiple operational systems which are not integrated, generating a consolidated financial report is often a complicated, time consuming business activity. A common way of handling this process is to export data into a spreadsheet and manually consolidate with output from other sources.

According to one study conducted by YouGov UK on behalf of FIF9, 78% of 1,200 UK-based senior managers and above, report that spreadsheets play a vital role in important financial decision making and 57% have reported that the use of spreadsheets has directly caused wasted time and lost productivity. Aside from being more time consuming to produce, when things go wrong in spreadsheets, problems can be more difficult to locate, isolate and fix.

Financial reporting vs financial analytics

The complexity of creating financial reports can be accommodated when reports are on a monthly or quarterly cadence. However, this approach does not enable the kind of real-time data refresh which enables effective financial analytics. When decisions can be made that have immediate effects to the success of the company, waiting until a report has been painstakingly compiled can be too late. An informative executive dashboard covering the most up-to-date financial information cannot be founded on manually updated spreadsheets.

Loome Integrate can be used to create a consolidated financial data pipeline which can feed real-time updates from any financial application into a presentation layer for effective analytics. With over 100 connectors available out-of-the-box, bringing together numerous, different source systems, whether they be Salesforce, Xero, MYOB, Oracle or other, is not an issue.

The benefits of data lineage

An integrated data pipeline that accounts for all the financial data generated within an organisation can give decision makers powerful new tools to enable better decision making. Anomalies can be identified and acted upon almost immediately. At the very least, contentious data points can be clarified immediately if the context behind it can be immediately known.

Properly documented data lineage means that any single data point can be selected, and its sources interrogated. With full transparency over data ingestion and transformation, integers of mysterious origin no longer must be a problem. A system with a data catalogue, such as Loome Publish, allows for data sources and entities that are derived from them to be visualised, organised an annotated all with a single web-based interface. Additionally, Loome Publish allows financial data to be presented in a tabular model using unary operators, which is a common hurdle that makes financial visualisations in Power BI challenging.

Better financial forecasting

Additionally, when sources of financial data have been integrated, forecasting and planning becomes much more effective. A big part of this is because of the data centralisation which enables top-down, on-the-fly adjustment of forecast figures as well as the ability to quickly switch between budget, forecast and actual figures. Additionally, when financial data is integrated, it allows it to be processed as a data cube. This means that it can be sliced, diced and rolled up across multiple dimensions which is simply not possible when working across numerous spreadsheets.

Financial data is sensitive data. In order to maintain good operational data security, there should be effective controls over who can access what data. Loome Publish provides a publishing and presentation portal with extensive control over user access and permission levels. Moderating access to important dashboards and ensuring security of sensitive data are also important in achieving good data governance. This can make an impact on the competitiveness and organisational integrity of a business.

How Loome can Help

Loome Integrate is a powerful tool which can bring together all your disparate financial data sources with ease. Stop manually stitching Excel spreadsheets and start using a streamlined and consolidated data pipeline for your most important financial data.

Example Data Environment

A data architecture map visualising a successful financical data platform