Last month, I went to a customer who had horrible performance issues, requiring 40 minutes to generate his consolidated Balance Sheet.

And a couple of weeks ago, a different customer concatenated three dimensions into one and had a horrible management reporting capability, but excellent performance.

What’s the right answer?

Well, Begin with the end in mind. (Thank you, Stephen Covey. “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Habit #2 – A must read.)

So, what is the “end” for financial reporting: The Financial Reports you wish to create in your reporting software.

Send out an email to every financial report digestor, business analyst, data user, FP&A, the office of finance, manager… I mean everyone that uses data. Don’t be shy.

Have them send you PDF’s of information that they use. Aggregated or transactional, I don’t care.

Print them out! It should be about hmmm… 2 inches think.  Why print them out? Because Excel models have a lot of linked data, but they are not clear on what is obviously important to the person who didn’t build the model.

Next review the printouts:  What’s on Rows, Columns, and Pages?

Look at what the dimensions are.  Are there KPIs? Ask what are the users’ pain points?

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Article by Allen Sherbrook

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