Creating accurate forecasts, reliable predictions, and strong strategic insights has always been a goal of accounting. But considering how much time, focus, and manual labor it requires, it’s a goal that's rarely realized.
That's all changing thanks to a new wave of data-driven technologies. The confluence of artificial intelligence and machine learning have made large-scale data management accessible to any accounting department. As a result, finding insights takes less time, and developing and applying strategy becomes the focus of finance.
The potential is exciting, but it’s important to understand these changes are not automatic. The tools companies need are available, but when and how they are implemented is important. Follow these three steps to ensure that accounting becomes a true strategic asset:
Financial data is ripe for errors, omissions, and inconsistencies. Finding and cleaning up these mistakes takes a tremendous amount of time, and even with a diligent team in place it’s possible for inaccuracies to end up in financial reports. As a result, strategic accounting is slow and uncertain. Getting data in shape is a major undertaking, but it’s absolutely necessary for analytics to be effective. Start by identifying the most relevant and useful data, then begin systematically weeding out the bad and irrelevant information.
Once data is in shape, it needs to be integrated onto a centralized platform. When it’s stuck in data silos between teams or departments it only creates inefficiencies. Accountants must go hunting for information and then wait to get access. This leads to inevitable delays, and creates the risk of incomplete reporting if data is never discovered. Breaking down data silos and creating a single source of truth is essential. That way accountants spend less time looking for data and more time utilizing it.
New technologies can automate these processes by storing data, both financial and nonfinancial, on one platform - one single source of truth - and automatically pull the data in from other relevant sources.
At this point you have quality data organized in one location. Now you can begin mining it for insights and ideas. Without quality reporting tools, however, this process is as big a hurdle as any other. Reports could take days to compile, include outdated or irrelevant information, and offer little in terms of depth or flexibility. As a result, the strategic potential of accounting and finance is largely lost. Relying on reporting tools more advanced than Excel empowers accountants to conduct in-depth analytics on an enterprise scale.
Even with a road map, it’s not easy for accounting departments to become more strategic overnight. That is why so many of them are prioritizing tech upgrades and digital transformations. Financial management solutions like are designed to make strategic accounting accessible and achievable.