By Jennifer Toomey, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle
Have you ever sat in a meeting where everyone has a different number for the same performance metric? Then, instead of making the important business decisions, the next hour or so is spent trying to reconcile the differences.
To be fair, it is likely everyone will have the right number according to the system they are using. The differences are most likely due to inconsistencies in the master and reference data (e.g. product categories, organization and cost center structures, market segments) across these systems. This issue has existed ever since organizations started implementing more than one business system. But today, the problem is magnified across the many systems that organizations have and by the large numbers of changes happening in the business environment, such as mergers and acquisitions, sales territory realignment, new product rollouts, and more. The data structures and hierarchies of how the business has been managed is changing.
And the tools and processes that finance professionals have no longer fit the purpose. Enterprise data changes are often handled manually through email and in person meetings, and spreadsheets—remember the above scenario?
This is where enterprise data management comes into the picture. In simple terms, it is a way to manage data about the enterprise—such as the financial chart of accounts—so that you can get a consistent view across multiple applications such as ERP and CRM, or across your cloud and on-premises systems. The process aims to facilitate change management to align and distribute master data changes across EPM, ERP and all your reporting systems.
An enterprise data management solution resolves the difficulties of manual processes and for finance executives, helps you drive more efficiency, more reliable numbers, and be a more effective business partner. In particular, enterprise data management helps you:
Enterprise data management plays a vital role in accelerating your cloud deployment by providing the foundation for design, alignment, and consistency that are paramount in ensuring a successful cloud strategy. It allows you to migrate and map enterprise data elements and on-going changes across public, private, and hybrid cloud environments, all with a common system of reference.
An enterprise data management solution makes it easy to compare the structures of acquired entities with your corporate structures and map and align key information. It allows you to easily redesign or build a new global chart of accounts as part of your M&A activity. You can model what-if scenarios when building the new corporate structures, and visualize those reorganizations/restructurings before committing to them. In short, you can be much more flexible and agile in assimilating acquisitions.
While large change events, such as cloud adoption or mergers and acquisitions, take a lot of resources and attention, it’s the routine changes that need to be managed carefully. It’s like keeping your car maintained; think about adding a new geography that you do business in, adding a new product—things you need to run your business on a daily basis. An enterprise data management solution makes it easy to stay on top of these changes, helping you to streamline reconciliations, reduce period end close cycles, eliminate redundant maintenance across systems, and producing trustworthy analytics. So when the big changes come along, you are ready.
In conclusion, enterprise data management can lead to being a better partner to the business and more confidence in the finance function. After all, trustworthy data should start in finance.