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Overcoming Excel-based consolidation challenges

       
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Overcoming Excel-based consolidation challenges

Overcoming Excel-based consolidation challenges

What good is an orchestra without a sound system? What good is a car without air in its tires? What good is a buffet that is stale cold? All of these are as good as using standalone Excel for financial consolidation. 

Just like an audible and high-quality sound system is a must to enjoy an orchestra, Excel must be complemented with modern software to reap the benefits of an accurate and effective financial consolidation.

We have already seen the challenges businesses face using standalone Excel for financial consolidation. Let's do a quick recap. Briefly, these are issues that finance teams need to address at each stage of the financial consolidation process:

  1. Data Collection: Lack of automation in the data collection process leads to manual errors, and too many versions of Excel files lead to a loss of data integrity.
  2. Data Preparation: Fluctuating exchange rates make currency conversions on Excel painful, and complex intercompany reconciliation becomes cumbersome.
  3. Consolidation: It becomes difficult to track all changes made to intercompany eliminations, and the manual approach to consolidating data causes delays in the close cycle.
  4. Reporting: Adapting to ever-changing compliance standards becomes impossible, and the sheer size of the reports leads to a lack of auditability.
     

           Challenges in Excel based financial consolidation


Organisations are now complementing their Excel with modern consolidation solutions to overcome these challenges and to get the best from both.
 

BPM Pulse Survey finds that 80% of the companies that have bought new performance management software continue to use Excel.

 

You must be wondering how new-age consolidation solution like JustPerform solves the challenges posed by Excel. Let’s look at each of the above points in detail.

 

Data Collection:

As we know, financial consolidation requires compiling the financial data of a group company’s individual entities. This means collating the data from different sources into one destination, like an Excel sheet. Now, these sources can be varied, depending on the size of the organisation and its data needs. For example, the data sources can be databases, ERP systems, accounting systems, data lakes and data warehouses, business intelligence solutions or multiple other Excel files etc. If this process is done manually in Excel, it could lead to data errors.

To overcome this challenge, you can seamlessly integrate data from varied sources with limited intervention. This is what modern consolidation solutions can do to your standalone Excel. 

JustPerform’s data integration capability can automate data collection from 80+ different source systems. You can seamlessly integrate data from various source systems.

It is also possible to connect easily to all your records systems, creating a single source of truth across the enterprise. This ensures timely data for consolidation from all your ERPs and Accounting systems.

 

A survey by the Association of Finance Professionals finds that finance teams spend 42% of their time gathering data.

 

Not just that, you can even establish real-time connections with your data warehouse and data lake to work on the most recent actuals for validation, consolidation and reporting.

In this manner, automated data integration can save many man-hours by avoiding manual data collection and duplication of efforts in case of errors.

 

Data Preparation:

Once all the relevant data has been collected and gathered, the next step is to prepare the data for reporting. Since the financial data is collected from different entities across geographies, the data could be recorded in different currencies. It needs to be validated, standardised, and reconciled. Doing this manually on Excel alone becomes challenging due to fluctuating exchange rates, and reconciliation becomes time-consuming and cumbersome.
 

As per a McKinsey study, with tighter data standards, new data-management practices, enhanced automation, and better integration, the time spent on data capture, presentation, and manipulation was reduced by as much as 65%.


What if you could automate reconciliation? What if you had smart validations? What if you could automate currency conversion? Modern consolidation solutions like JustPerform can do all of this and more.

JustPerform’s key feature that comes very handy here is the JustPerform Excel Add-in. Apart from data collection, JustPerform Excel Add-in comes with rich modelling, validation & workflow capabilities to prepare accurate data.

The availability of smart validations at each activity and task level eliminates incompleteness and inaccuracies in your data and makes intercompany reconciliation a breeze.

Once the data is validated, finance teams generally use Excel macros and other formulae to enrich it, making it fit for consolidation and reporting. Once again, the problem of manual errors and time intensiveness can be eliminated with the JustPerform business rule library.

This contains an exhaustive list of rules to help you make your data processing simple, effective, and successful. The aspect of manual currency conversions is taken care of by this, and hence, no more worries about errors caused due to fluctuating exchange rates.

JustPerform’s data flow designer helps finance users maintain data visually. Data wrangling and mapping capabilities make it easy for the finance teams to standardise the data and keep it ready for consolidation and reporting.

This is how the fluctuating exchange rates and cumbersome reconciliation can be handled easily with smart validations, and the business rule library.

 

Consolidation:

The most important facet of financial consolidation is putting together the financial data gathered from all the entities, which is then enriched/processed. The consolidation process includes key tasks such as intercompany eliminations, allocations,  posting journals etc. Doing all of these on standalone Excel brings up the challenges of collaboration, tracking all the changes made, and extremely long close cycles.

With JustPerform, finance teams can collaborate within Excel and complete the close cycles around 50% faster.

Generally, different people on the finance teams, placed geographically away, must collaborate for the consolidation process. Therefore, the time taken is very long. With JustPerform, you have guided workflows that can make collaboration very easy. All the different versions of Excel files shared, all the to and fro on email, followups, etc. can be avoided. 

The guided workflow capability of JustPerform is an inbuilt collaboration capability within Excel. The workflow provides detailed steps and activities for each user, as the manager defines. This makes all the collaboration happen within Excel itself and much quicker too.

Also, the consolidation lead now has complete control of the process through the inbuilt fine-grain authorisations of JustPerform. This allows giving specific action access only to the relevant person, makes tracing the time, author and source system of every posting effortless.

Once again, the business rule library capability of JustPerform helps automate many tasks like account reclassifications, account mapping, allocations, eliminations, and automated journals. Users can review and define their own rules without the complexity of macros or coding. This eliminates the possibility of errors and saves many man-hours, resulting in accurate consolidation and shorter close cycles.

Therefore, the challenges of tracking changes, lack of collaboration, and long close cycles can be solved with guided workflows, inbuilt fine-grain authorisations and the business rule library.

 

Reporting:

At this point, the financial data has been collected, processed, enriched, consolidated, and is ready to be presented to stakeholders. If Excel alone is used for the representation, the key challenges at this stage are the everchanging compliance and the lack of auditability of the data.

But even this can be sorted with modern consolidation solutions, thanks to the inbuilt reporting templates.

 

According to the PwC Pulse Survey 2023, 34% of CFOs want to enhance their reporting process as a top priority.

 

With JustPerform’s standard pre-built templates, finance teams can save much time in data input, dashboard and report building. JustPerform comes with over 50 audit-proof standard reports. These reports can be easily customised to suit specific business reporting needs. These IFRS, US GAAP & Multi GAAP compliant templates make dealing with large amounts of data easy, with zero worries about the ever-changing compliance requirements.

Also, the robust governance and event-tracking capabilities offered through fine-grain authorisations ensure that tracing back to the granular level of details for each consolidation entry is effortless. This makes the lives of finance teams easier as they can track the source system, the contributor, and many more details when the auditor needs to verify.

Thus, with the help of inbuilt templates and fine-grain authorisations, finance teams can overcome the challenges of the ever-changing compliance requirements and the lack of auditability.

In summary, finance teams are increasingly using modern consolidation solutions like JustPerform to complement Excel for accurate and effective financial consolidation. 
 

Overcoming consolidation challenges with JustPerform

 

Automated data integration from varied sources, with JustPerform’s data integration capability can help reduce manual errors and save man-hours.

Smart validations, business rule library and automated currency conversion with JustPerform help eliminate manual reconciliation hassles.

Guided workflows in JustPerform make collaboration within Excel effortless and quick - reducing the time taken for consolidation by 80%.

Inbuilt fine-grain authorisations allow managers to control the process, while 50 audit-proof standardised reports help companies remain compliant at all times.

The icing on the cake is that since most of the financial data is now gathered, processed, and prepared, the same single source of truth can be used for planning, budgeting, and forecasting requirements without starting from scratch, thus avoiding duplication of efforts.

JustPerform is a powerful solution that helps take the boring and error-prone task of financial consolidation off your hands.

Automated data integration, smart validations, business rule library, guided workflows, inbuilt fine-grain authorisations and 50 audit-proof standardised reports make financial consolidation faster, easier and more accurate than ever before. 

Not only does it consolidate your financials quickly but also provides a single source of truth for all your planning, budgeting and forecasting needs - saving time and effort.

If you’re looking to get accurate and effective financial consolidation without those time-consuming manual errors, then JustPerform should be at the top of your list.

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