Strengthening business resilience through EPM

In today’s turbulent economy, the ability to make quick and sound decisions can make or break an organisation.

CFOs and finance leaders are no strangers to Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), a process that entails budgeting, planning and forecasting, profitability and cost management, and reporting and analytics. It is a critical function of any finance department, so it may come as a surprise that many organisations are still using inefficient spreadsheets for EPM. 

In fact, finance leaders are spending 80% of their time simply finding, cleaning, and organising data on these spreadsheets, leaving only 20% for performance analysis. Moreover, the limitations of a two-dimensional spreadsheet stifle visibility, resulting in human errors that impede accuracy and productivity. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic requiring businesses to make swift decisions in the face of uncertainties, spending majority of time on labour-intensive data preparation is neither sustainable nor an effective way to arrive at quick, sound decisions. 

Libby Lee

Effective EPM: The need to improve data quality 

Effective EPM enables quick decision-making across all business activities, placing organisations in a better position to take advantage of future opportunities and mitigate risks. To achieve effective EPM, businesses must first examine the quality of their data, which directly impacts business outcomes.

“When the pandemic hit, one of the most common concerns of our clients was how they could accelerate their digital transformation journey and ensure business continuity,” says Libby Lee, senior vice president for EPM at Syniti, Asia Pacific & Japan. 

“However, most business leaders don’t realise that 70% of digital transformation projects fail due to bad data. Bad data refers to data that is inconsistent, inaccurate, or incomplete—and it usually comes from poor management processes.”

Moreover, remote working is inadvertently causing data pile-ups that are stored in silos across different departments, geographies, and systems. This makes it challenging to identify which data is relevant to the business, resulting in poor quality data that leads to poor decisions.

Flipping the 80/20 rule: Maximising data effectiveness for enterprise performance 

Today, there are tools available to clean, de-duplicate, and validate data across the business, and automate much of the labour-intensive tasks of finance leaders. This allows them to spend 80% of their time on performance management that drives value for their businesses instead of 20% previously.

Syniti’s EPM solution harmonises data and provides a single version of truth across all levels of the organisation—from finance, sales, marketing, supply chain, and so on—and utilises this data to provide advanced analytics and predictive insights on business performance in real-time. Furthermore, with pre-configured best-practice content, finance leaders can view these insights in templates that can be tailored according to their planning needs—ranging from the business supply chain, workforce, sales and marketing, and IT planning.

“With quality real-time data and analytics at their disposal, finance leaders can optimise the time involved in forecasting and increase forecasting accuracy. By aligning the finance function with other operational business functions, organisations can promote greater agility and derive insights to drive the business forward,” Lee adds.

Such is the case with Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), a global shipping and logistics company. Syniti seamlessly integrated NOL’s financial and managerial accounting processes. By providing a single source of truth, NOL can ensure that data across the two functions are in sync, minimising data inaccuracies. 

Furthermore, Syniti automated much of the manual activities in data collection, consolidation, and processing, thereby minimising user intervention. This enables the company’s finance leaders to spend more time on analysis and performance management than data collection and processing.

Lee explains, “The philosophy behind our methodology is to focus on the “here and now”. We help streamline our customers’ business processes and deliver trusted data that they can use to make the best decisions that help save money, reduce risks, and remain competitive even during the pandemic.”

“In the long run, effective EPM will place finance leaders in a better position to anticipate and prepare for changes in the business environment, and make better-informed and well-timed decisions.”

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