Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Creating Visual Financial Reports


Standard financial reports tend to follow the same template, which is a list of accounts and their totals for the month and year. This information is critical to financial advisors, but the standard report template doesn’t tell us what the values mean. One of the goals of any report is to highlight relevant information so a user can easily see if something’s wrong and take corrective action. Let’s examine two kinds of financial reports and you can decide for yourself which one would make an impact for more stakeholders at your organization.

This report (after the jump) shows a sample income statement for a fictional company. While it displays all of the necessary information, you’d have to read every line item in order to find out that the total income from this month is down 50% from the same time last year. It’s also difficult to differentiate the total from specific line items because the dollar amounts are the same font size and color. With the technology available to finance teams today, this type of boring, ineffective financial report should become a thing of the past.

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On-Demand Webinar: Not Your Father’s Financial Statements


View-WebinarCheck out our latest on-demand webinar…

Not Your Father’s Financial Statements
Recorded Date: October 23, 2013
Length: 30 minutes
Presenter: Dwight deVera, arcplan Senior VP of Solutions Delivery

About this webinar:
The standard financial reporting process that your organization uses to manage itself has been in existence for over a century. There is no reason why executives should settle for financial statements that were first designed prior to the existence of computers. In this webinar, we discuss best practice techniques to visualize the data locked in your financial systems and alternative formats for your financial statements.

arcplan-income-statementSee ways to make your statements more visual and interactive with ratio analysis using radar graphs, historical performance using bridge and waterfall analysis, commentary and more – in effect, you’ll learn how to make your company’s financial data more consumable to a broader audience.

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Providing Visibility & Agility: The Key Components of Success in Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting


aberdeen-group-guest-postIn my previous post, I discussed the role of spreadsheets in financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting. My key conclusion was that organizations need more substantial technology to facilitate these processes through automation. What I did not discuss was how these technologies provide greater visibility into the data that is essential for successful decision-making as well as the importance of utilizing this data to create forecasts that constantly reflect current business conditions. Today I would like to discuss these themes, but let’s first take a step back to why they are important.

Aberdeen’s 2013 Financial Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting survey illustrated the top pressures hindering planning processes (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Pressures in Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting


Source: Aberdeen Group, January 2013

Highlighting the importance of agility, organizations are pressured with volatile markets that make it extremely difficult to forecast effectively. This is compounded by the fact that 25% of organizations reported that their current budgeting process is too long and resource intensive. So organizations are spending all this time and effort, and by the time the planning process is complete, the output is already based on old data.

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arc|twenty Recap: Our 20th Anniversary User & Partner Conference


20 cakeThings are starting to get back to normal after last week’s landmark arc|twenty conference in Düsseldorf, Germany. I can finally catch my breath and think back on the awesome event we just held and all the customers and partners we learned from.

We normally call our annual conference arc|planet, but with it being arcplan’s 20th anniversary we decided to mix it up a bit and call it arc|twenty. On October 1st and 2nd, we hosted 250 international participants at the Hyatt Regency Düsseldorf, where everyone gathered for “Information & Celebration” – an apt theme this year as we soaked up information from BI industry experts as much as we celebrated our birthday and the launch of our newest platform release, arcplan 8.

Keynotes and Customer Presentations

Paul Warren from Mars kicked things off on Day 1. He covered the challenges Mars faced when trying to provide centralized, flexible reporting on their complex infrastructure, and how arcplan helped solve the problem.

Hoelscher_Keynote_smOur CEO Roland Hölscher then gave a keynote called “Driving Business Analytics – Past, Present, Future,” a look back at BI 20 years ago when arcplan was founded as a bridge between IT and business leaders. From my perspective, seeing arcplan’s original product “inSight” on a floppy disk was pretty mind-blowing. He covered our history of innovation and really surprised some of the attendees who didn’t know that way back in 1994, arcplan was the first vendor to offer real-time access to many data sources and the first vendor with a visual designer for creating reports and other BI content.

Our CTO Hans Peter Wolff gave everyone an exclusive look at the new features of arcplan 8, particularly Responsive Design with HTML5, or what we call DORA (Design Once, Run Anywhere). He was followed over the next 2 days by more than 30 top-notch presentations by business intelligence experts, arcplan customers and partners, and the arcplan development team. A few highlights included…

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Don’t Rely on Spreadsheets: Essential Tools for Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting


aberdeen-group-guest-postIn my role as the Senior Research Analyst in the Aberdeen Group’s Business Planning and Execution research practice, I spend a significant amount of time studying the key pressures facing organizations in their planning processes as well as the key technologies that top performing organizations use. Unsurprisingly, I often get questions on the role of spreadsheets in the planning process. Spreadsheets continue to be a popular tool used in financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes. In fact, Aberdeen’s 2013 Financial Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting Benchmark survey found that 89% of organizations use spreadsheets in the planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes. Employees are comfortable with spreadsheets because many of them use them in both their professional and personal lives. This familiarity makes it unsurprising that both top performing and Laggard organizations are employing them in some aspect of their financial planning process. This reliance may stay the norm for the foreseeable future and spreadsheets are likely to continue to be an integral part of the planning process.

Yet while the Best-in-Class may be using spreadsheets as a part of the planning process, they are less reliant on them as the sole means of communication and interaction, preferring to combine them with the use of applications (Figure 1). Being a repository of exported data is in fact the leading role spreadsheets play in top performing companies. As the methods in which spreadsheets are used become more manual, the Best-in-Class and the Laggards switch rankings…

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