Financial and Operational Reporting in a Multi-cloud World

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This article is the second in a series about how Corporate Performance Management (CPM) applications can function as a true solution, this time specifically in regard to reporting and analysis challenges businesses face with data spread across multiple cloud and on-premise systems.

Last week, I wrote about this multi-cloud world that we are definitely already living in – and how Corporate Performance Management (CPM) and/or Business Intelligence (BI) systems can serve as a complete solution to technology and data management challenges that come with multiple cloud systems. Considering the number of enterprise technology applications moving to the cloud that are essential to running today’s businesses, it can be overwhelming and quite frankly, challenging to integrate and/or consolidate all of these data sources. On top of that, there are on-premise tools as well, where a lot of accounting systems still reside. Now, as our understanding of data and how we can harness this insight continues to evolve into more richly integrated manifestations, the multi-cloud reality can be frustrating. This article will zoom in on reporting as part of BI and CPM processes – and how the right tool can be a complete solution to your life, as we know it, in a multi-cloud era.

When I think about multi-cloud, I immediately think of video streaming services. Hosted on the web, managed by the entertainment company, there are more and more options to stream quality programming content. As our consumption of this media continues to evolve toward the internet as a platform, there has been a notable abandonment of traditional cable and satellite television options for monthly subscriptions to any number of streaming services. But what has happened for the consumer?

In this example, consumers are selecting where they want to receive content from, and in some sense, it’s very consumer driven. But without a package like DirecTV or Spectrum, it can be a lot of moving between apps, either on your phone, through a Smart TV, or via a streaming box, like an Apple TV or Roku. Similarly, in the business world, managers and end users might move between cloud applications, like a cloud ERP system, ADP or Workday for Human Resources (HR) and payroll matters, an email automation system, a support ticket management program, Google Analytics to track web site visits, perhaps an event management service, and so on. This can be a lot of logistical shifts, meaning not only logging in and out of your assortment of tools to analyze the metrics locked inside of each cloud system, but also your brain moving in different directions across different web user interfaces. And most, if not all, enterprise vendors offer their own proprietary report writers, so on top of moving between cloud systems, you should be prepared to learn several different reporting tools. Sound like fun?

Probably not. Reporting, whether financial or operational, is most important than ever to understanding the health of your organization – from all areas. You might be tracking revenues and expenses, event attendance, referral traffic, how many people are opening your emails, and so many other projects within your organization. And as we continue to evolve as a business culture, we have seen an explosion in the demand for interdepartmental reporting for richer analyses to provide companies with the information needed for streamlining activities and to develop first-mover advantages in an increasingly competitive landscape.

In the first article of this series, I really emphasized the importance of a data warehouse to bring multiple data sources and diverse information together – and it bears repeating. A modern, pre-built, and customizable data warehouse, as part of a CPM or BI suite, offers a singular space for storing all of your information from different data sources, on-premise or cloud-based. But the other important aspect to reporting off of one repository is integrations.

Not just any integrations. You should look for a modern report writer that can deliver robust integrations to your enterprise software systems. Some reporting tools can report live off of on-premise systems, but with the multiple cloud systems we’re relying on these days, a data warehouse is a necessity for inter-cloud reporting, but again, the integrations have to be in place. Different solutions have better ETL and/or integration tools than others to help your team set up the integrations you need.

Some CPM and BI tools are on-premise, while some are pure cloud, and still others are hybrid deployment solutions. Regardless, a data warehouse is an essential investment if you want to navigate your multiple cloud systems with flying colors. Of course, in terms of a report writer, you want to find something that is accessible through the web, but probably powered by an Excel add-in so business users can design their own reports without the help of IT specialists, since spreadsheets are so familiar across the business world. You should find a solution that allows you to drill down and produce sub-ledger analyses where you need to support analysis of financial statements or KPI reports. It should be easy to use for business users, secure, but collaborative in terms of functionality. It’s important to pinpoint what goals you have in terms of shopping for the right solution to tell the story of how your company is doing. And don’t forget the importance of how strong the integration technology is, so the extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) of all data source information is done right.

Look – reporting is only going to become more important as we make sense of all the data that we can harvest from our multiple cloud and on-premise technology. As you figure out how you want to manage your software systems, you are likely going to need a tool that serves as a unified space for your data – because of strong, modern integration technology. You might have some questions as you navigate the search for a proper reporting solution, and Solver, Inc. is happy to answer any questions and review BI360’s easy-to-use, Excel- and web-based budgeting and reporting solution that enables collaboration, streamlined decision-making capabilities for your BI experience.

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