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Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

Profitability Analytics: Why Can’t I Find the “AHA” Moment?

Guest Author

by Bart Stoehr, Sr. Director for Product Management, Oracle

One of my previous blogs observed that, by including the development of operational understanding in its magic quadrants for both strategic and financial corporate performance management, Gartner acknowledged its importance to financial communication. When I’ve had occasion to discuss the use of operational data to develop financial understanding, many seasoned business professionals nod in agreement—appreciating how the activities that consume resources to provide goods and services to their customers drive their organizations’ financial performance.

Bottom line is that financial facts do not exist in isolation—financial facts, enhanced through operational understanding, have enabled organizations to generate realistic and actionable performance reports.

The consideration of operational behavior in the financial analysis process has allowed many organizations to reach an “AHA” moment. It often occurs at the point when financial consequences expose a better understanding of the operational requirements demanded by the products produced, or services delivered, or processes performed, or the unique behaviors of customers. These organizations apply these new insights to better support management decisions.

But, I’ve also been disappointed when I’ve seen organizations were unable to find the “AHA” moment. There are a number of factors that have contributed to the inability to achieve satisfactory performance reporting and analytics. I classify the causes into two broad categories: cultural/environmental difficulties and implementation glitches.

The most common cultural and environmental failings I have witnessed have included tenuous executive sponsorship and the assignment of inappropriate or inadequate resources.

Implementation problems fall into two categories:

  • Project inadequacies, such as poorly defined or too-ambitious objectives, or poor communication from the project team
  • Technology impediments, like the reliance on spreadsheets, resulting in the limited production of meaningful results, or a combination of calculation engine, data warehouse, and reporting technology that is so complex it requires excess IT support to obtain results quickly

Ultimately, and irrespective of the reason(s), failure occurs at the point where executive commitment (or interest) is lost. Success lies in getting actionable results to the executive sponsor(s) as quickly as possible. Cultural shortcomings are complex and often require an external perspective to expose them and bring to a resolution. But, with today’s technology, implementation problems should be easier to address.

Have you found your AHA moment yet?

In future articles, I will describe technology-related advances that are being used to alleviate the implementation barriers. In the meantime, I invite you to explore our web site, or take a few minutes to watch this video demo.

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