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Press Releases | 15 October 2013

Survey of FDs reveals that greater departmental collaboration and data accuracy is needed – yet spreadsheets are still widely used

Dept collaboration

A survey of 130 Finance Directors and Chief Financial Officers has revealed that 54% believe collaboration across company departments is vital to improving corporate performance, with a further 81% citing the importance of accurate data – yet despite this 50% of those surveyed still rely on spreadsheets to manage corporate performance.

In a survey examining the challenges faced by finance departments carried out by leading international HR and finance software solutions supplier Talentia Software, 24% of respondents bemoaned a lack of collaboration as hampering the reporting and budgeting process. Data quality and consistency was highlighted as the biggest business challenge in terms of budgeting, forecasting and reporting by 62% of those surveyed.

The survey also reveals changes in budgeting habits, with a shift towards either monthly budgets or a zero-based approach to forecasting being highlighted, although annual budgeting remains a core component of CPM for many. 57% of survey respondents have implemented rolling forecasts as the primary way of making budgeting, forecasting and reporting processes more efficient during the last five years, while 46% feel that the speed of the budgeting process is integral to corporate performance.

61% of respondents also echoed the importance of collaboration with regards to speeding up the financial reporting process, yet interestingly 11% actually felt that bringing other departments into the process would lead to a slower reporting cycle.

The results can be viewed in full in a new whitepaper, available to download for free from Talentia Software. The survey explores how automating the reconciliation of company accounts with corporate performance management (CPM) applications can help companies to achieve their goals more efficiently.

Further findings reveal that company departments need to work together more closely on the reporting, planning and analysis of critical data in order to achieve organisational objectives. The results come at a time when the role of finance departments is evolving to that of a wider business partner with an active involvement in the fulfilment of larger corporate objectives.

“While spreadsheets still rule within finance departments, CPM systems support the wider business remit by enabling finance teams to be more closely involved with the business at large through technology,” says Julie Windsor, Managing Director at Talentia Software UK. “The ability to provide clear, easy-to-understand information in the right format allows those operating outside of the finance function to feed into the process. The technology offered by a CPM system also enables organisational transparency, allowing organisations to be adaptive and to respond to challenges at speed – a necessity in today’s fast-moving business environment.”

53% of those surveyed expressed concerns about the amount of time it takes to forecast and report critical data. However, organisations are beginning to adopt integrated CPM systems, and efficiency was cited as the primary driver behind investment for 50% of respondents. 40% are currently using a combination of integrated CPM systems, budgeting, consolidation and reporting applications and spreadsheets to measure corporate performance.

“We’ve been very interested to see the results of this survey, in particular the widespread view on collaborative working,” adds Julie Windsor. “For example, when we asked whether finance should work more closely with HR to optimise company performance and profits, 61% agreed that the two departments should work together more closely. Finance functions understand that CPM is about aligning people and processes to achieve corporate goals, all of which requires a faster and more efficient process. In the ‘big data’ era, companies are now collecting more information than ever before and so it is vital for organisations to be able to use this effectively in order to improve global business performance.”

To download a free copy of the whitepaper, please click here.