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Analytics/Reporting with a data mart - What is the role of IT vs Finance?

At our mid-size company (45 FTE), reporting and analytics have always been the domain of Finance. We understand the business/numbers better than anyone else and are a trusted resource for decision makers. For analytical work, Finance currently exports information into Excel as our business software does not have a report writer. Our new IT Department has recently created a data mart of financial information from our business software and has selected Microsoft Power BI as a tool to make reports out of the data mart. IT has not given Finance the ability to write its own reports but is offering to write reports for users, including Finance, despite the fact that IT doesn't understand the data. What is the experience of others in Finance working with IT in using a data mart and a tool like Power BI? Is the Finance role changing with respect to reporting and analytics?

Answers

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

My issue with users defining their data/reports is INDEPENDENCE. They can skew results that will show things that are favorable to them. Finance should act as an "independent" source of information/data/analysis. The least the company (if your company is going this route) is for finance to audit/sign off on the data, formulas and even the overall process. Also, be sure to safeguard the source codes for the reports and make sure that no edits can be made unless Finance signs off again.

Jon Placa
Title: Director of Finance and Operations
Company: NarrativeDx
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance and Operations, NarrativeDx) |

I would work with your IT team and learn to make SQL queries (they are pretty easy). Let your IT host/aggregate the data and your finance team process it

Jim Burtt
Title: Director Global Financial Systems & Proc..
Company: formerly at Guidewire Software, Inc.
(Director Global Financial Systems & Processes, formerly at Guidewire Software, Inc.) |

I agree with Jon. There are many self-service BI tools available that would allow Finance to create/run its own queries 7x24 without an intermediary. IT should be your reliable technical partner for making data from multiple source systems available in a normalized form to BI tool users. The bigger question is why Finance and IT are not working together when selecting BI tools. It should be a team effort.

Topic Expert
Jaime Campbell
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Tier One Services, LLC
(Chief Financial Officer, Tier One Services, LLC) |

Although I quite agree with Jim regarding working together when selecting BI tools, if we're going to take the "what's done is done, what do we do now?" approach, I recommend the following:

* Have the right IT personnel teach Finance how to master the tool as a user so Finance can run any reports desired
* Make sure IT understands their role for installation, maintenance, and support of the system, not reports contents

I find that drawing a line between user-end and back-end with deference and order on both sides creates relief and productivity - both sides get to do what they do best.

It also helps in creating people in another department as your champions, and vice versa. That enhances your career.

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