Garbage In, Garbage Out: Finance Automation's Impact on Data Visualization

Tom Zehentner

In recent years, business leaders began deploying incredibly powerful data visualization tools that allow them to have agile and aesthetically pleasing dashboards at their fingertips. These tools are undoubtedly useful – if used correctly. “Garbage in, garbage out” refers to the concept that flawed input data produces flawed output data, or garbage. This adage is a driving force behind finance automation and a critical consideration when exploring data visualization solutions.

Where does the garbage come from?

Disjointed systems and human error are main drivers of incomplete and inaccurate data. Consider your upstream systems: you may have a manually maintained customer relationship management system that houses critical client or project data. Your team keys in customer information including billing amounts, project status, etc., which are all prone to error and fat fingering.

This data may also be needed in other systems, such as your commissions platform and general ledger, which requires a human to manually key in data in multiple places. Each instance of manual intervention presents a risk of error, and the lack of communication between systems allows dirty data to trickle down stream. The manual data entry may also result in less data being recorded than is available, as it may not be practical to have a human keying in dozens of data points into multiple systems.

You can’t Photoshop a dumpster fire

Once your data is dirty, it requires cutting corners, applying loose assumptions, and time consuming spreadsheet acrobatics to try and produce data worth analyzing and presenting. Not only does dirty data jeopardize the integrity of the data, but the time required to manipulate the data renders it stale, irrelevant, and inactionable.

This leaves you with two options:

  1. publish dashboards after manually transforming data and prevent leaders from having it on demand, or;
  2. publish dashboards that tell an incomplete or inaccurate story

While publishing dashboards in data visualization tools may look presentable and professional, they are nothing more than arts and crafts without actionable data behind them. Even if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.

Finance automation to the rescue

Individual finance tools and systems are not typically configured to interact seamlessly with all of the other systems in a business’ technological ecosystem. While most systems have native interfaces to connect and share data, the structure of the data may not be conducive to ingestion by other systems, especially as each individual system may evolve and update in different intervals. Additionally, data may sometimes need to be blended and enhanced, rather than passed directly from one system to another.

Comprehensive finance automation solutions bridge this technological gap seamlessly by automating data extraction, preparation, and blending in tandem with software robotics that emulate human actions like clicking and dragging. Finance automation allows all relevant data points to be recorded throughout the entire technological ecosystem seamlessly and instantly, providing confidence that you have a single source of truth that is worth publishing in a dashboard.

FinOptimal’s finance automation solutions

FinOptimal’s solution starts by deploying our finance automation software to connect your technological ecosystem into a distributed ERP system. We’ve mastered the data structures of the most commonly used systems and tools in the market, allowing us to efficiently and effectively connect your tech stack. Once connected, your systems contain a source of truth, and we work in tandem with you to develop meaningful reports and dashboards that update daily and on demand. Consider implementing finance automation solutions before or with data visualization tools to get the most of your reports and dashboards.

Tom Zehentner

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