Web-based Reporting for Banks

This article will focus on Web-based Reporting for Banks.

CFO DashboardWho cares about web-based reporting for banks? When we think about reporting for banks, we often think about accountants, controllers, and CFO’s.  According to The Wharton School, accounting is considered the language of business.  The story of any company, no matter the size, the industry, or the country of origin, is told through its financial records and reports.

It was not long ago that when you wanted to read a story, you would go to the library and check out a hard cover book.  I found books that had illustrations to be much more enjoyable as the pictures greatly added to the storyline.  The way we read books today, however, has rapidly changed in just the last couple of years.  According to an article by USA Today, people’s consumption of books via E-books is well over 50%.

The reading of financial reports is evolving in the same manner.  Paper reports with some illustrations is now considered old school.  Almost every time I fly, I see business executives pull out their Kindle, iPad, or Surface Pro to read.  If you want to effectively communicate with your C-Suite today, you are going to have to adopt some form of web-based reporting for banks.

Exactly was is web-based software?  According to the tech company Basecamp, web-based software is software you use over the internet with a web browser.  You don’t have to install any CDs, download any software, or worry about upgrades.  If you use Gmail, Salesforce, or Expedia today, you are already using web-based tools.

The beauty of web-based reporting for banks is that there is no software that has to be loaded onto your management team’s devices.  All they need is the ability to connect to the internet.  They will sign in to your reporting portal with some type of user ID and password.  The portal will typically know who is signing in and will have a catalogue of reports that is relevant to the reader.
reporting portal What exactly is available in the portal will depend largely on what tool you are using to create the reports.  Some portals show static PDF documents while others have drill-down capabilities to the underlying data.  Still others will allow the viewer to be able to change parameters such as date, cost center, product code to change the content of the report. bank product report Sounds good, where do I start? There are a few more terms we need to understand before jumping into your specific needs.  We have to figure out where the raw data and report writer is going to be located.

On-premise – All the data, software, and web portal machine are located on the premises of the company that is using the services.  Most banks today use this approach to their own banking applications for their teller network, lending applications, and online banking.  The common phrase used to describe this scenario is that all of their data is behind their fire wall.

Third party hosted or Cloud – Going with a third party or Cloud vendor to host the bank’s data require the data leaving the premises.  Typically, the bank will submit data files to a secure FTP (File Transfer Protocol) site.  From there, the vendor will load the data into a data warehouse of some sort and provide a reporting tool to access and render the information in the portal. Or, modern cloud-based solution have automated data loading processes that can move data from other cloud applications or on premise applications and into the reporting vendor’s cloud. Some of the concerns for banks with third party hosted or Cloud is that their customer data will be exposed to computer hacks.  A counter argument is that the bank is investing in data security that protects just themselves.  A Cloud vendor is investing in data security that is protecting many, many companies.  They will likely encounter more types of threats and have much more intensive protective measures in place.

A couple of other benefits of third party hosted or Cloud is that ability to reduce IT’s footprint.  The IT department is having to keep up with so many applications such as Loans, Deposits, ATM’s, Online Banking, and more.  The last thing they want to do is support another reporting and analytics application.  There are servers to maintain and backup, software releases to install, and support teams to keep trained if they want the application on-premise.

So what web-based reporting for banks solutions are out there?  To get started, the solution should have Excel as the report writer so that it offers the flexibility, power and familiarity of Excel.  Almost every accountant uses Excel to build their reports today.  The solution will need a robust data warehouse to store all of the data and be easily accessed.  Third, and most importantly, the reports need to be able to be accessed via the web by your management team.  Here are a few of the leaders to consider.

SAP BusinessObjects (www.sap.com) – BusinessObjects (acquired by SAP in 2007) provides performance management, planning, reporting, query and analysis, and enterprise information management.

Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (www.oracle.com) – OBIEE (comprised of Siebel Systems and Hyperion Solutions that were both purchased by Oracle) delivers reporting, ad-hoc query and analysis, OLAP, dashboard, and scorecard functionality with a rich end-user experience that includes visualization, collaboration, alerts, and more.
IBM Cognos (www.ibm.com) – Cognos (acquired by IBM in 2009) provides a toolset for reporting, analysis, scorecarding, and monitoring of events and metrics. The software consists of several components to meet the different information requirements in a company.

BI360 from Solver (www.solverglobal.com) is a complete Business Intelligence (BI) and Corporate Performance Management (CPM) suite with reporting, budgeting and dashboard modules. The BI360 suite also offers a data warehouse to combine your data sources and to empower all business users with self-service analytics critical to fast and efficient decision-making.
All four of these solutions are offered as on-premise or web-based solutions. They all have Excel front ends to build the reports with the ability to drill into the data  They all can publish the reports to web portals and be viewed on mobile devices. The time to value can be as little as a couple of days or up to six months or more; so do your research.

Whether you are new to web-based solutions or have been using them for the last few years, BI360 by Solver is a tool that will grow with your bank’s requirements and complexities.  Solver, Inc. is happy to answer any questions and review BI360’s easy-to-use, Excel-based reporting and forecasting solution for banking users.  Update your story telling capabilities today and by investing in web-based reporting for banks today.