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October 18, 2016

Buy a new TV these days and youll find it has a mind-boggling array of settings. Calibrating them correctly is the key to your viewing enjoyment. The general factory settings wont take into account the size of your room, the positioning of your lighting, or the level of sound intrusion. So however good your signal, unless the settings are tweaked youll miss out on the superior experience promised in the TV advertisement.

The same principle holds true for how a business views its financial data.

Large corporations have crucial financial data sitting on their systems but often struggle to turn that into information that properly influences management decisions. The challenge is turning data into intelligence. The problem is neither poor data gathering and its management, nor the lack of sophisticated business intelligence (BI) systems. The challenge besetting many organizations is that the data management system, which gathers transactions and the BI analytics systems arent in sync. Not only does this hinder managers whose job it is to plan or take action, it also creates a number of reputational and financial risks.

Efficient capture and consolidation of financial data is the foundation stone of business intelligence.

One of the transactions gathering applications is Oracles EBS that consists of a portfolio of cross-business functionalities that can be customized to suit the needs of a global business environment whatever the size of business operations. It can capture data from various sources, and when the right toolsets are applied, it produces insightful reports.

For a BI system to extract the right data, it has to be configured with accurate maps and settings. That means using data lineage to manage the flow of data from your EBS into your warehouse, and finally on your BI systems dashboard.

BI systems need to have access to all data categories including all headings, titles, and labels to help create meaningful reports for business. The accuracy of these reports depends highly on the systems ability to generate the right group account number assigned to a bundle of accumulated data. These group accounts are used in financial statements item codes in the general ledger reconciliation process.

One of the ways to improve the quality of data capture is to ensure your data relationship manager (DRM) maintains a chart of accounts (CoA) and group account mappings. This requires a clear understanding of your data lineage and a robust reconciliation strategy. Oracle Data Integrator (ODI) helps to extract, transform and load the data from EBS to BI.

Selection of a best-of-breed business intelligence system is an important step to achieving better financial data management. But its not an end in itself. Unless the interface between that system and the data upon which it relies is managed effectively, the results will be suboptimal. Its like trying to watch your favorite entertainment show on your new widescreen LCD TV turning on the color balance or plugging in the audio.

Read more aboutBreathing Life into Data for Better Business Intelligence and Smarter Reporting Systems.

Subodh Agrawal is a Director in the Finance Transformation practice at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). He assists CFOs and Controllers of Fortune 500 companies improve efficiency and effectiveness of the finance function. He has authored articles on close cycle optimization, revenue recognition, financial reconciliation, data integration, and application rationalization, including one on the 'Changing Role of the CFO' published in Future in Finance by the Association of Financial Professionals. Subodh holds CPA, PMP, CTP, and ACA certifications. He also has an IFRS certificate from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).


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