How to Select the Right Cloud Reporting Solution

Many companies struggle to understand what cloud reporting is, why it’s important, and what to look for in selecting the right tool for their organization.  Reporting, both financial and operational, is arguably the most significant element of Corporate Performance Management (CPM) because it represents to the report consumer the performance of all the activities that occur within the business.  So it goes without saying that having the right tool that makes this process as efficient, timely, accurate, and informative as possible is critical. Recently, sophisticated cloud reporting tools have emerged in the market, offering modern, feature-rich capabilities.  This is great news for companies looking to replace or supplement their accounting system’s reporting tool with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that offers ease-of-use, report automation, self-service analytics, modern security, and collaborative capabilities.

Most of today’s accounting systems come with built-in report writers, but are limited and therefore often cause the most angst for the accounting system users. This frequently results in users having to extract reporting data from the accounting system and other systems into Excel. This of course results in a number of painfully manual and repetitive steps, such as additional data entry, formatting, creation of charts and graphs, formulas, and other common Excel tasks to create a finished product.  For these reasons, its important companies find a CPM solution that addresses these and other issues.  The good news is that there are a number of cloud CPM vendors that have made significant investments to develop solutions that do exactly that.

Companies looking for a cloud CPM vendor should first determine if they are using a cloud service platform to run their software. Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are two of the most recognized cloud service platforms and offer a wide range of services.

Companies should then focus in on the features offered by the solution. If Excel is used in the organization, they should be looking for a cloud solution that integrates with Excel; it should not be “Excel-like”. This allows companies to leverage resource knowledge of Excel and take advantage of all the capabilities that come with it.

If there are multiple data sources, such as a separate payroll system or Customer Resource Management (CRM) system, they should be looking for data warehouse capabilities to integrate with these systems. This allows for combining data from these sources with the accounting system data.  They should also be looking for software that offers pre-built integration with their accounting system.  For integrations that are not pre-built, they should be easy and quick to build and maintain.

Finally, companies may want to consider a solution that offers multiple methods for report execution and analysis, such as via Excel and the web. This provides users with maximum flexibility, whether they are in the office and using Excel, or are out of town on business and want to view the same report on a secure connection to the company’s web portal.

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding Business Intelligence (BI) or Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solutions, and visit our Technology Services webpage to learn about the services we offer.


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