Creating compelling visuals seems like a bonus, not a necessity, when working with business managers or presenting to executives. Delivering accurate data takes priority over the way you present the data.
The problem is, without a clear visual it's more difficult to tell a story through the numbers. When your time is consumed checking the numbers and making last minute changes, you're caught in the weeds unable to see the big picture. You're asked for the 'why' behind the numbers, but you worked overtime just to get the data right. On top of that, creating dashboards in spreadsheets would take days or weeks of time you don't have.
Reports and dashboards don't build themselves. Especially if you're relying on spreadsheets to build out visual aids for data. Getting to the right numbers takes priority over the look.
Problems you deal with:
When you're already crunched for time, deciding which KPIs and data points tell the best story can be difficult. You also have to build different versions for your different groups of stakeholders. When it comes down to it, you don't have the time or brainpower given the rest of the work you're doing.
You need to consider:
At the end of the day, presenting inaccurate or outdated numbers could cost you your job. So, you focus more time on gathering and checking that you have the latest numbers instead of how the data will be presented. But without a clean visual, you end up getting more questions and more work.
Challenges you face include:
You spend so much time manually consolidating and validating data that you have no time to build quality, relevant reports. And even if you have the time, spreadsheets don't make it easy to create visually appealing dashboards. When you spend more time on visuals, you can spend your time on strategic analysis and getting buy-in from stakeholders.
You need an active planning process that meets three criteria—It has to be collaborative, comprehensive, and continuous. With these three factors, you have participation from key stakeholders, the tools and information necessary to build complex dashboards quickly, and you have up to date models that can be refreshed in minutes. Benefits of active planning include:
When you have these three components, we call it "active planning"
We can now focus on presenting management with most strategic data as KPI dashboards, and more long term outlook scenarios. We are providing more added value to management than we ever could have before... It’s a really big advantage. It’s really a good feeling to see what took you a few working days before, now takes you five minutes. It’s a huge deal for us.
Adi Zaidel, Corporate FP&A Manager