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Making tough decisions during COVID-19: How consolidating your business view can help

May 06, 2020

Click here to read part 2: Seven steps to integrate data and consolidate your business view

At the core of an effective decision-making strategy is having a current and consolidated view of your business. This is especially true in times when speed and holistic insight can have serious business advantages.

You’ve probably already had to make tough business decisions because of the COVID-19 pandemic — and there will be more tough decisions ahead. Your business’s data can give you insights — both externally and internally — and it will be a key asset in the days ahead.

The challenge of using business data

When it comes to using business data, the main challenge is integrating it so that you can make it easier and faster to gain insights.

Many businesses spend hours and hours manually preparing data — taking data attributes from different systems and across many spreadsheets, pouring over documents like operational reports and profit and loss statements, and putting the data into a format that CEOs, CFOs and COOs can use to make important decisions.

But because of the time and effort involved, as well as the silos the data is spread across, the individual data cycle doesn’t put the entire business picture together for these leaders.

That’s where a consolidated business view comes in. It integrates data, automates data preparation, makes insights readily available and gives you a holistic view of your business. How to meet performance and strategic goals becomes much clearer when you have real-time, un-siloed data.

Six benefits of consolidating your business view

Before we move into the seven steps to take to integrate your data, we’re going to highlight six insights we’ve seen our clients gain from a consolidated business view.

1. Gain quick insights into cash

Because of COVID-19, CFOs are focusing on how many weeks their business can operate off of cash reserves if they were required to shut their doors tomorrow. Many organizations didn’t account for a stop in revenue with a continuation of expenses in their yearly budgeting exercise.

This information changes daily, and CFOs realize that it will only be actionable in the moment if a technology tool is consolidating the data automatically.

2. Perform what-if analyses

The ability to see the effects of decisions before making them is incredibly invaluable. Business leaders are thinking creatively about the levers they can pull to make the most business impact.

How many more operating weeks could you get out of your reserves if you were to stop your 401(k)-matching program for the time-being? Is there a strategic purchase of raw materials that could benefit the business in the long run? Can you offset the purchase by modifying expenses elsewhere?

Companies with the ability to ask these questions and see the impact in nearly real-time are much better equipped to pivot when external curveballs are thrown their way.

3. Gain one source of truth for a disparate workforce

Because many companies have enabled their teams to work remotely, this has interrupted traditional data-preparation efforts. A business cannot run on one individual’s local Excel pivot table with an unknown “last updated” date. To effectively manage the business, decision-makers need a centralized location where they can see their metrics and performance.

Businesses with a consolidated view gain real-time metrics where everyone is looking at the same source and numbers.

4. Boost employee confidence

While companies are worried about keeping the lights on, employees are focused on financial security. It’s a lot more reassuring to an employee when their employer uses accurate, up-to-date data to make business decisions that could directly impact their livelihood.

5. Visualize your supply chain

Some business are experiencing a growing demand for products and services during COVID-19 and are thus ramping up. Their challenges are to get visibility into the supply chain and analyze alternatives to continue operating and producing. A consolidated business view not only makes this possible but also makes it a much faster and more reliable process.

6. Learn what tactical activities can make an impact

As your company is pivoting, so is your workforce. The individual you rely on to manually compile data for analysis may need to pick up another critical responsibility for the time being. Worst case, they may have an unforeseen absence for an extended period of time.

It’s critical for business continuity that your analytics efforts are not disabled during their absence. By leveraging business intelligence platforms to automate the data preparation exercise, you can help ensure timely metrics are always available.

What once was a monthly (or even yearly) financial planning exercise now needs to be weekly or even daily. From the more tactical decisions of where to trim and what products or services to focus on, to the more sensitive and gut-wrenching decisions about what to do with your workforce, you can gain confidence in your ability to make fast and effective decisions with a consolidated business view.

It’s easier to get started with data integration than you may think

There are tools to help you bring and visualize data from multiple places without disrupting those core systems that you rely to operate or the people you rely to keep the business going. Many of the digital analytics tools and vendors are making it even easier to get started with a number of incentives to get going while conserving cash.

Next, in part 2, we’re going to talk about the seven core steps to take to get started in data integration and business view consolidation. Click here to read part 2.

Need help with COVID-19 issues?

We’re here to help you navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on your people, finances and business. We have developed a library of resources in our COVID-19 resource center to help you stabilize today and prepare for tomorrow. We also have solutions that can help you manage your people strategy, operations, business finances and technology. Contact us to learn more.

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Kate E. Brown
Senior Manager, Technology
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