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3 ways CFOs can boost company-wide data literacy

Jeni Peacock
Published by Jeni Peacock on 9th August 2021
Enterprise Accounting software

Cloud-based systems give companies of all sizes the opportunity to amass more data than ever. That’s great; it means they can improve services, cut costs, meet customer needs, and generally make better business decisions. But there’s a problem.

Many employees are simply not trained to interpret and make sense of the data they receive. According to Computer Weekly, just 17% of UK workers are confident in their data literacy skills and 67% feel overwhelmed or unhappy when working with data. That presents an opportunity (some might say a responsibility) for finance teams to help colleagues in all disciplines learn how to understand and analyse data.

3 practical ways to encourage a data-driven mindset across your business

Data skills are now essential for almost every role and businesses need more people with the ability to interpret this information. It’s also entirely possible for everyone to learn these skills. But developing a data culture takes more than simply sending everyone on an Excel course.

In fact, the data skills that are missing from many organisations are often not the technical ones. It’s the so-called ‘soft’ skills, such as asking the right questions or creating meaningful ways to present data analysis. Here are three practical ways finance teams can help lift data capabilities across their business:

1.       Encourage and welcome questions

Finance leaders can help embed data-driven decision-making in every department by encouraging everyone to interrogate the data they see. People should feel comfortable to ask questions such as:

·       What is the source of the data?

·       How reliable is it?

·       What checks did you make?

·       What other data do we need before we act?

·       What is this data really telling us?

Welcoming this level of engagement with how company data is collected and analysed will help more people to understand, interpret and act on the results.

2.       Make real-time, relevant data more accessible

In 2018, Marks & Spencer announced a plan to set up their own data academy to keep pace with digital transformation in the retail sector. They recognised that they needed not just data skills, but a data mindset and culture across all functions, from the board to buyers and store managers. Not every business has the resources to set up their own academy, but as a finance team you can improve data literacy by providing relevant and easy-to-understand data visualisations to all teams.  

3.       Use real life examples and data stories

When your business uses data to make a major decision or change, share the background of how and why you reached the decision, as well as the end results. For example, show how an employee engagement survey results in improved employee benefits or an inventory analysis identifies inefficiencies and cost savings. These stories can raise awareness of the importance of data-driven decisions and increase confidence in using data across all departments.  

AccountsIQ has the reporting tools to help finance teams analyse and present data

AccountsIQ’s advanced financial reporting software helps forward-thinking finance teams share relevant, real-time data and make faster, more informed decisions. You can choose from over 250 pre-built reports and a library of ready-made role-based dashboards to serve finance, the C-Suite and operational teams.  This, combined with the power and flexibility of our Microsoft Excel Add-In, to extract data for presentation and modelling, and our connector to Microsoft Power BI, allows you to analyse and present any analysis you want, using real time data, in any format you want.

If your company has a group structure, you can consolidate analysis right across your group of companies. With AccountsIQ you can save a huge amount of time with one-click consolidation, as frequently as required, to bring together all entities data and report across your group.

Learn more about our financial consolidation accounting software.

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