October 2015

Feedback LoopsA few months ago, a single e-mail message from someone at Reuters was mistakenly sent to more than 33,000 unintended inboxes. Even worse, it generated days’ worth of responses in what became known on social media as #ReutersReplyAllGate.

Among other descriptions, this misstep is a textbook example of a poorly executed feedback loop.

Here’s a more typical scenario: sending Excel templates for financial reporting and analysis to LOB managers across an organization. They review it, verify back to the sender that they have done so, and offer value-added insights into the numbers – but they do it one email and spreadsheet at a time. For many finance departments, this may sound like business as usual, or a logistical nightmare of version control and data consolidation issues. Continue reading Feedback Loops – Reporting as a 2-Way Street

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About the Balanced Scorecard

A lot of things ended in 1992 — Johnny Carson’s run as host of The Tonight Show, the Cold War and, eventually, the popularity of acid washed jeans — but something particularly important for business leaders was just getting started. As hard as it is to believe, that was the year Drs. Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton introduced the concept of the Balanced Scorecard.

Today, as entrepreneurs explore the “lean startup” approach and manufacturers continue to wrestle with Six Sigma, Balanced Scorecard has managed to sustain a surprisingly loyal following in the C-suite as a strategic framework for looking at a business from multiple perspectives. As organizations continue to reap the advantages of corporate performance management (CPM) software – and Excel spreadsheets for that matter – think of Balanced Scorecard as a way of complementing such technology with highly effective management practices. Continue reading Balanced Scorecards & Proven Models

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Consider this post a belated but heartfelt ‘Happy Spreadsheet Day’ to all those working in finance departments who have come to appreciate the power of Microsoft Excel.

For those who aren’t familiar with this non-statutory “holiday,” Spreadsheet Day fell on Oct. 17 this year, and is the fifth annual celebration of the day the first predecessors to Excel emerged in 1979.

One of the suggested ways to mark this occasion is to reflect on how ubiquitous spreadsheets are in modern life. That’s a good idea because, even as other vendors try to steer CFOs and their teams towards more complex tools that require difficult integration with enterprise systems, it’s worth thinking about the long-term approach you want to take to handle things like financial close management as efficiently as possible. Continue reading 5 Reasons to Stay in Excel for Financial Close Management

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Vena CEO Don Mal reveals why FinTech represents such a pivotal and enabling…yet still misunderstood market

A recent headline on Bloomberg.com sounded almost deliberately confrontational: Banker Beware: Meet the FinTech Insurgents.

What followed, however, was a video recap of a thoughtful discussion with startups who are offering various kinds of digital products for the financial services industry. It was a good example of how everyone — from traditional financial services firms to CFOs — is still trying to figure out if FinTech represents a competitive threat or the potential solution to some long-standing industry challenges.

Earlier this year, Chris Skinner attempted to properly define FinTech on the Financial Services Club blog:

Fintech is a new market.  It is 21st century finance. It is the new form of banking, and is related but very different to the old form.  Some of the old form players will metamorphose into these new digital FinTech players. Some, not all.   Some of the new players will take over the markets of the old incumbents. Some, not all. Continue reading What Is FinTech, And Why Is It Important?

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