Proposing a brilliant new financial strategy takes a lot of work. Finance executives have to assess everything from company-wide objectives to financial performance metrics. The process takes time—something that most financial executives don’t have in abundance.
With Microsoft’s Power BI for finance, executives can automate many of these calculations and assessments. The software organizes even the most complex financial data from spreadsheets and generates fascinating insights in a shareable visual format. By delegating their most tedious tasks to the Power BI system, finance executives can focus on what truly matters: making high-level financial decisions.
Why You Should Use Power BI for Finance Management
Power BI is an online and mobile platform that you can use to build visualization dashboards or generate reports from data. The great thing about Power BI for financial executives is that they can build high-level custom dashboards for each of their tasks, including:
- Analyzing financial performance metrics in real time (like operating cost, capital gains, or leased-to-owned ratios);
- Updating the company’s financial compliance status;
- Tracking and establishing new company-wide financial goals;
- Aligning performance metrics with goals to determine whether the company is on the right path to success; and
- Communicating with upper level management and employees about the company’s financial health and strategy.
If you can think of a financial metric or goal you want to track, you can build a comprehensive dashboard or report in Power BI that does it. You don’t need any experience with coding or data science to create these tracking systems. You can simply export your data into Power BI and then drag and drop visual templates into a report or dashboard of your choice. Power BI automatically populates reports and dashboards with your data from the connected data source, saving you time headaches.
When you use Power BI for finance, you’ll also notice a few higher-level benefits like:
- Reliable insights and answers: Power BI for finance is designed around a “one version of the truth” philosophy. All of the data comes together in one report or dashboard to show financial executives precisely what their next steps should be.
- Fewer steps and errors: Building a report from scratch using Excel or other traditional financial management tools is a long process involving many smaller steps. These reports are also static and can’t be easily refreshed when new data is available. Power BI automates the export process, which saves time. The software can also be refreshed daily, so the reports and dashboards are dynamic, rather than static.
- Streamlined presentations: Financial executives used to build presentations that were dozens of slides long and contained hundreds of individual data points. This made it hard to keep an audience engaged. With Power BI for finance, everything is displayed on a single screen in a compelling way. It’s also interactive, so you can click on each custom visual to drill down further. Your audience is less likely to tune out during your presentations.
- On-the-go data and task management: If you travel from branch to branch or have to make a big presentation for an upcoming out-of-state conference, you can use Power BI from any mobile device. You can also instantly share your insights with teams around the world.
- Quality technical support: Power BI has a question and answer tool that allows you to type in any question and get a simple answer. For example, you could ask, “How do I add a pie chart to my dashboard?” and Power BI will show you all of the steps.
- Support for other Microsoft products: Most financial executives still prefer to use Excel to keep track of performance metrics. Power BI supplements these systems and works in tandem with tools like Excel. You don’t have to give them up when you make the switch to Power BI.
Although there are a great number of benefits to using Power BI for finance, there are also a few downsides.
Are There Limitations to Using Power BI for Finance?
Power BI is life-changing for some financial executives, but it still isn’t perfect. You can’t use Power BI for every single task—at least not yet. Some of the limitations of this software are:
- No support for large data sets (you can only export small data sets);
- Limited predictive analytics options (the software has no machine learning algorithms or artificial intelligence capabilities);
- If you use visual templates, you may not be able to display your data exactly as you’re used to seeing it (like in the form of a traditional financial statement);
- The cost of the software can be quite high if you need to buy multiple user licenses or use on-premise data storage.
The pros of Power BI for financial executives largely outweigh these cons. Still, if you plan on using Power BI, you’ll need to supplement your data analytics system with other tools that can fill in these service gaps.
The Best Way to Leverage Your Financial Data
Power BI should be part of a much larger and more comprehensive financial data analysis system. If you decide to use Power BI for finance, think of it as a presentation and data organization tool rather than a full-service system for analyzing all of your data.
To make up for what Power BI lacks, consider hiring a third-party data analysis firm that specializes in creating advanced systems that work alongside Power BI and other Microsoft tools. They will start by auditing your financial data collection and presentation process to identify areas where you can make improvements. A team of data science experts will then build custom Power BI dashboards and report-generating systems based on your unique workflow and preferences.
These systems include methods for storing and analyzing larger data sets and displaying the data in visual form. The firm can also set up machine learning algorithms to help you make better financial predictions.
A system like this can be more cost-effective, too. Rather than buying an expensive Power BI Pro or Premium license or purchasing multiple tools to perform all of these tasks, you’ll pay a monthly fee to a data analytics firm that will handle all of these details for you. Whether you use Power BI alone or you invest in a more advanced analytics system, leveraging your financial data will help you sustain your bottom line and make the right financial decisions.
If you’re a financial executive looking for ways to improve your workflow or maximize your data, contact Tek Leaders today. Our team of data science experts will help you identify potential flaws in your system and offer advice on how to collect and visualize higher quality data. If you’d like to obtain a free business intelligence audit, you can reach us by email directly.
Devender (Dev) Aerrabolu