“We need to add this functionality…and this dimension…and that dimension…and sometimes we get asked for this so let’s add something else to capture that…and this one is really important…we can add all of that, right?” I have been involved in several conversations very similar to this one. My answer is always, “Yes, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Unfortunately, anything I say after “yes” is frequently tuned out at first. Sometimes I wish I could simply say, “No, you need to choose.” The flexibility of the reporting, planning and analysis systems on the market today is both a blessing and a curse.
Could you create one set of drivers for your Domestic operations and another set of drivers for your International operations even though they provide the same services? Could you create metrics or reports that are similar, but different, just so every manager can have his or her own “pet” metric or report? Of course, you could. Items such as dimensions, metrics, cubes, sheets, levels or reports can be added very easily. So why not add them? Right? Isn’t that better?
We tend to fool ourselves into thinking that more is better. That is simply not the case. More can cause performance issues. More can lead to confusion around what is important in your business. More can cause you to spend an inordinate amount of time on very low value-added tasks such as data validation. More leads to wasted maintenance time ensuring all your systems stay in sync. Less is often more.
I understand that the path of least resistance is to appease every end user (and manager) and simply add more and more to your solution. Don’t succumb to the “Kitchen Sink Syndrome” where you bring every possible bit of data and metadata in to your system just in case it is needed. Instead, focus on what drives your business. Your job is to provide Senior Management with the Key Drivers and Performance Indicators that will help shape their decisions and actions. Spend the requisite time now to update and standardize your processes and minimize those tasks and activities that take your time away from value-added activities. Use your system for those items that make a difference to your company and enable you to make smarter, faster decisions. Always keep in mind that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Flexibility is not always a good thing.
Read more blog posts in our FP&A Done Right series:
FP&A Done Right: Finance as the Conductor
FP&A Done Right: You Can’t “System” Your Way out of This