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How To Improve Your Financial Reporting With Power BI

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Power BI is not exclusively a tool for finance, as it has use cases for any part of your business that needs to make strategic use of data. However, the FP&A function has evolved to become one of the strongest power users of Power BI given its benefits for financial reporting

Today, financial reporting is no longer a periodic event that happens quarterly or annually. Companies must be able to make real-time, data-driven financial decisions to remain agile in unpredictable economic conditions and stay competitive in fast-changing markets.

Power BIs unrivalled analytics capabilities and sophisticated data visualizations make it the best tool to drive greater data literacy across your finance teams and a shared understanding of the current financial state of your company.

The result? More frequent and effective financial reporting, better decision making, more accurate forecasts, greater resiliency and faster growth.

Today, we'll dive into just some of the advantages your business can gain by executing its financial reporting processes using Power BI.

Key Takeaways:

  • Business intelligence tools such as Power BI democratize data and make financial reporting a more active part of overall strategy.
  • Power BI and Excel can be used as complementary tools. You do not have to choose one or the other.
  • Benefits of using Power BI for financial reporting include compelling visualizations, shared dashboard views and greater predictive analytics capabilities.
  • Power BI easily integrates with comprehensive FP&A software (such as Vena).

Why Use a Business Intelligence Tool for Financial Reporting?

Business intelligence (BI) is the process of turning data into actual insights that can be used to drive decisions and determine an organizations strategy. BI is becoming increasingly critical to finance teams as a way to democratize the insights used for financial reporting and make financial forecasts and analysis understandable to non-finance audiences.

To leverage business intelligence in practice, organizations need  BI software that can automate processes, enable shared views of data and reporting and make financial data an accessible planning resource across business units.

Power BI is the current market leader in this space and the most popular choice for companies today. So let's look at seven specific benefits you can gain from using Power BI to enhance financial reporting and make it an active part of your strategy going forward.

From Efficiency to Insight: The Benefits of Using Power BI for Financial Reporting

1. Seamless Excel Integration

One of the reasons some teams might hesitate to make the jump to Power BI is because they're accustomed to using Excel for similar purposes, and they believe Excel is effective for getting the job done which it is.

The good news is that you don't have to sacrifice one for the other. Power BI seamlessly connects to Excel so teams can utilize the best features of each tool and even leverage one to enhance the other.

For example, you can import data from multiple Excel files into Power BI to create a single and compelling visualization, enabling more holistic reporting thats easily understood by audiences across the organization.

2. Powerful Data Visualization

Financial reporting is enhanced in Power BI by its powerful data visualization capabilities, which can turn large and/or complex datasets into stories about performance. Waterfall charts, for example, are often used in Power BI to show value fluctuations over a certain period of time (i.e. sales or cash flow), as shown below.

Visualizations can even be made interactive using slicers, which allows report viewers to filter data visualizations in different ways to see the information most relevant to them. This is an impactful feature when you're sharing a single financial report with leaders from multiple departments who might have varying goals and priorities.

 

GIF from Microsoft tutorial shows how slicers can be used to enhance financial reporting in PowerBI by enabling interactive data visualizations.

Source: Microsoft

Slicers can be used to enhance financial reporting in PowerBI by enabling interactive data visualizations.

3. Access to Wider Data Sources

Power BI has access to a much wider list of data sources than Excel and can be used to seamlessly connect with multiple sources that contribute to financial reports (see the full list of dozens of Power BI-accessible data sources here). This feature also makes it easier to automate reporting processes and pull data from various sources into single reports.

In the end, this provides more centralized insights and eliminates the need to go back and forth between reports to gain a full understanding of financial scenarios.

4. Shared Dashboards

Collaboration is essential to achieve the type of ongoing financial reporting required by the pace of business today. Teams cant depend on days-old data (let alone quarterly or monthly reports). Power BI not only provides access to real-time insights, but also allows for shared dashboard views across teams and departments.

This means everyone can make decisions based on the same accurate data. Teams are better able to work together on financial reporting projects because they can see the same data from anywhere using Power BIs cloud-powered remote visibility. 

Reporting disparities across teams are also eliminated by automatic updates and a shared single source of truth within the Power BI platform (vs. separately performed calculations).

5. Agile Forecasting and Planning

Automated data updates and real-time dashboards also mean reporting never has to be static sales and revenue forecasting (and any other predictive planning activity) can be made more agile in Power BI because it can be done in an ongoing way. Teams no longer need to depend on forecasts done at the start of the year or quarter.

Given the rate at which markets now change (and their general unpredictability),  this is a must-have capability for FP&A teams in any industry.

Further, real-time data allows for better trend monitoring and analysis, meaning your FP&A teams can identify and help pursue opportunities for competitive advantage.

6. Higher Data Capacity

Power BI has a greater capacity than Excel to source and analyze large datasets. While Excel is often the preferred choice for data manipulation and for maintaining tabular reporting formats, Power BI is the better option for combining data across sources and maintaining it in a single, centralized place.

7. Easy Integration With Planning Tools

Power BI can be easily integrated with the type of comprehensive planning tools used by the most innovative and agile organizations today. You can use it to align business units and achieve the company-wide, data-driven planning capabilities needed to navigate changing markets and economic conditions with confidence.

 

Achieve Greater Financial Reporting Agility With Vena

Vena Insights gives you the power of real-time intelligent reporting and analysis, with Power BI and Microsoft's best-in-class AI and machine learning technology directly embedded. Quickly analyze profitability, perform real-time scenario analysis, view month, quarter or year-to-date calculations and more.


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