What’s your business speed limit?

Oh, I’m sorry. Didn’t know you had one? But you do. You may not have noticed it before, but as the CFO, you see it whenever you request a new data view and it takes two, three, even four weeks for it to be created. Another clue is that your finance team includes a junior analyst whose full-time job is to pull, clean and analyze raw data out of your reporting system and into Excel – just to generate core financial metrics.

You spot it again when the CEO interrupts your latest presentation to the board with a helpful suggestion: “It would be great if we could see these sales metrics down to the store level after correcting for discounts.” Yes, you agree that it would be great, but creating it would require weeks of effort across the IT and finance teams. “That’s a great idea, and I’ve even asked for it before,” you respond. “But as I’ve learned, our data isn’t structured to give us those views on demand. Doing this would require IT to modify dimensions and rebuild the cube, which means we’d have to pull resources from other critical projects. So for the time being, we’ll probably have to keep working from the metrics we currently have.”

Clearly, there’s a limit to the speed of your business.  If you’re like most organizations, your reporting tools aren’t fast or flexible. They make changing your metrics a slow, difficult process requiring cross-team effort, so you postpone it or avoid it altogether. And management is forced to make decisions using data based on old business rules and outdated structures – like planning for the future by looking in your rearview mirror.

When you’re at the speed limit, business management is restricted. Inflexible data structures lead to inflexible business processes. It’s harder to identify trends, pinpoint risks and determine possible revenue plays.  It’s tougher to runin the now.

Meet the Three Speed Blockers

There are three major sources of business speed limits:

1: Inflexible technology. Your reporting tools are weighed down by the baggage of a legacy data environment. As your business evolves, it is very difficult to reconfigure the data in line with new structures. Changes to business rules, hierarchies or definitions generate large programs of work to reconstruct the data engine.  In fact, changes are often impossible due to brittle legacy architectures that can’t scale or bend and flex.  This becomes even more complicated if the processing capacity has memory or storage limitations.

2: Ownership conflicts. The CFO needs new data but the CIO controls it. It’s challenging to get new requests prioritized when the IT department is so busy just keeping the current data systems running. And within IT, changes to data reporting require cooperation across the data warehousing, data management, systems management and hardware teams, each with its own priorities and each with the potential to cause delays. Depending on IT’s backlog, projects that seem simple on their face can take months or years to complete.

3. Cost. Even when data reporting requests can be handled quickly and easily, changes still come with significant financial costs. Rebuilding data cubes, updating systems and conducting testing all require work. This generates labor expenses, impacts hardware performance and may be constrained by capacity or budget considerations.

These speed blockers reduce the agility of your business and increase the risk of management losing control over decision quality. The data and processes they create can’t keep up with a fast-moving business environment.

Some seek workarounds. For instance, analysts tired of waiting on change requests resort to manually calculating metrics from raw data in Excel models outside business systems. Over time, these models become cumbersome, error-ridden and stale. They are understood only by a small number of experts and pivot table gurus who can navigate the spreadsheets and the broken systems. These precious few hold the keys to visibility on business performance in the organization – a thought that should worry any CFO.

Working at the Speed of Business

The answer is to remove speed limits and eliminate the need for manual workarounds.  In our work with customers like Netflix, Cerner Health and Reddy Ice, we’re seeing organizations once buried under spreadsheets now accelerating their business by taking advantage of three key advantages to Tidemark’s cloud-first, mobile-based business planning and analytics software.

  • Tidemark provides data flexibility that matches the need for business flexibility. Users can quickly and easily view metrics across many dimensions. One tap on the tablet enables managers to drill into metrics or view a different dimension. Unshackled from Excel silos, multiple collaborators can participate in the same reports at the same time.
  • Tidemark is fast. The cloud-first computation engine delivers metrics instantly in your browser, with no error-prone analysts or manual workarounds involved. Everything and everyone uses the same, up-to-date system that is maintained by Tidemark. It’s always current, always available, and always fast.
  • Tidemark offers control over the data by managers who work at the front lines of the business. No more turf disputes between IT teams that hold up change requests. Modifications to definitions and hierarchies are straightforward, even for non-technical users. And because Tidemark hosts and maintains the system for you, you lower your ownership costs and have more IT resources to commit to other projects.

If the speed blockers mentioned above look familiar to you, perhaps it’s time to look seriously at a cloud-first solution that empowers the entire organization to manage performance, impact results, and equip managers to immediately understand the implications of their decisions.

It’s just what you need to blow past your business speed limit once and for all.