Author:Dunja Jagetić / 04. 09. 2020.

Don’t spend too much time collecting data – automate repeatable processes for collecting and verifying data

“Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.” –Peter Sondergaard

For a successful business and market competitiveness, valid and timely information is of the essence. In order to provide information, you must collect relevant data.

If you work within a company, you are most likely very familiar with the painful process of collecting data. Endless e-mailing of Excel templates and tracking who did and who did not send back their figures. It’s not unusual for received files to be incorrectly populated and need to be redone. Not to mention when the templates get changed by accident. If the document is not secured properly, formulas can easily get overridden. Another need for your intervention. When new lines are added manually, they may not be included in the total calculation or pivot table. This is something that’s difficult to spot in the bunch of data, and you can end up with the wrong information. You must have the feeling that you are constantly spinning in a circle without an escape plan.

Time passes, deadlines are just around the corner and you’re not even close to having prepared analyses and reports.

Now is the time when the real pain begins. You need to integrate all those received files into one master file. There is just too much data, the master file is overloaded, the whole system is slowed down. What’s more, if the location or name of the file to which the master file is linked has changed, the link between the files is broken and it’s difficult to trace it. Therefore, it is also dangerous to store historical data at such an unreliable source.

And when you finally get the job done and have a presentation for your superiors, everything crashes, a bunch of errors appear on your screen and you are at your pinnacle of misery.

 

If you are fed up with the way you have come to interact with time and deal with the job challenges, change it

 

Talking to clients, or sometimes even friends working in controlling, listening to their experiences and frustrations whenever the budgeting process and creating reports is mentioned, all I can think of is “Why?!”

Of course, Excel is a great tool and it’s virtually impossible to imagine working without it,  but the market and the amount of work are growing rapidly. Excel is lagging behind, not catching up, and it’s far from optimal to take over your whole business needs. I believe you probably crave for a new tool that would enable faster and easier data collection, processing, and analysis – to make your job less stressful.

 

Don’t dig with a spoon – find the right tool

 

Today there are many tools that allow you to do your job with much greater efficiency and a much lower possibility of errors, and which will allow you to contribute to your organization in the best way possible.

IBM offers leading solutions that will complete your previously time-consuming tasks much more efficiently. IBM Planning Analytics incorporates a fast and reliable tool that will automate your processes for collecting and sharing data, as well as the entire planning, budgeting and forecasting process. The intuitively designed interface for business users is similar to the Excel you are used to, while providing all the perks of modern planning and analytic solutions.

You can also use it as a stable data structure and, as such, have it be less prone to errors. The need for custom integrations – which tend to introduce compliance risks you have been struggling with so far and placing a burden on scarce technical resources – is reduced.

 

 

Data can only deliver full business benefits if it can be accessed quickly and easily

 

There is no need to collect data and create new reports every time you need some new and up-to-date information. Once the data is entered, it is in the system, and automatically transferred between all connected interfaces. By adding a new line, all tables, calculations and reports are updated automatically, allowing you to have up-to-the-second information at any time. Based on a single entry, the data can be viewed from several aspects and you can make full use of the information obtained.

If needed, multiple users can work on the same workbook providing planning numbers for the same report. Workbook dependencies will no longer exist because interfaces will only retrieve what’s necessary from the database instead of referring to other workbooks. You are also able to create a workflow so you can easily trace the whole process.

To achieve greater accuracy, optimized plans and reporting with confidence, it’s important to collaboratively create forecasts. Marketing and sales managers, project planners, finance and HR teams – all of them can use the same workspace to create data-driven insights that help organization work smarter and outperform its peers.

IBM Planning Analytics database model can be fully customized to unify data between different departments. Another key thing to remember is that the business logic will also be stored in the database instead of an Excel worksheet, helping provide the only true version for everyone within the organization.

At this point, you may struggle with the question of possible security issues. Collecting sensitive data within one unified workspace can create feelings of anxiety or distrust and raise concerns about privacy and confidentiality.

Of course, first you need to clarify who has access to what type of information and why. Then, you can easily set security rights for all data, processes and interfaces. Also, all IBM Planning Analytics interfaces have read and write capabilities on the server, therefore you are able to fully customize your business processes and reports.

 

Is it really worth it?

 

With everything mentioned so far, I believe you have understood the power of this tool and how much it can contribute to the quality of your work. But the question in your head might be – How much does this cost? Despite everything, is it worth it?

Based on a full Total Economic Impact study, you can expect a payback within 14 months. Furthermore, the study shows following benefits:

  • 63% reduction of time needed to complete the annual budgeting cycle
  • 80% faster processing of planning data
  • 70% decrease of time required to complete forecasting cycles
  • 133% return of investments within three years

 

As the famous saying goes, time is the most valuable asset a person can spend. Don’t waste your time unnecessarily on manual repeatable processes. With IBM Planning Analytics, your team can spend less time collecting data and more time on analysis – delivering real value to your organization.