Smart View and Financial Reporting—Frenemies?

Mike Arnoldy

February 14th, 2011

Companies implementing Financial Management always get excited about Smart View. Most of the users are accountants after all. Excel is their answer to everything, it is a spreadsheet, word processor, database, so they see Smart View and think, “Now Excel can be my report writer for Financial Management.” Everybody knows how to use Excel, so training will be minimal. They are in heaven!

Well not so fast. In my experience there is no one tool that is the perfect for all reporting. Each has strengths and weaknesses. I have recently worked with two companies, I’ll call them Company A and Company B, who initially went down the “Smart View for everything” path and have now retreated to and now see that Financial Reporting has its place. Let’s look at their experiences.

Company A

The Company A had been live on financial management for several years. But within the organization, Financial Management was seen only has a tool for the corporate decision makers. This company had not built many reports in Financial Reporting. Users In the divisions had access to the application, had been trained on Smart View, but just did not use Financial Management. Why? When we talked with the users, we really found out they did not understand the dimensions in Financial Management. Smart View requires that the users understand all of the dimensions to build a reports. Without that knowledge, it is very difficult to create a report. New or casual users do not have that familiarity.

Our solution was to build a set of financial statements using basic Financial Reporting functionality that would let a user “Explore” their data. These reports were built both with expansions and related content so users could drill into a number. Users could get to various, alternate views of a number. All of this was possible without users having to have complete knowledge of all of the dimensions. The POV was designed so that the correct members were selected. Users only needed to chose a company, period and year. The results were that users in the divisions now actually use Financial Management. There is less off line reporting compiled and everyone is actually looking at one version of the truth.

Company B

Company B is a company that initially thought Smart View would be their primary reporting tool. They went live with Phase 1 of their application and were nearing the rollout out of Phase 2. Users were reporting that there was no way to get the reporting the way they needed. They were literally at the point where two years into the project, they might need to stop and do a redesign/rebuild.

This company had all of the information they needed in their accounts and custom dimensions, but the combinations of these required for the reporting was just too complex for Smart View. It was a challenge in Financial Reporting, but prototypes to prove out the design were built in a few days. This company now has a better understanding that Financial Reporting does haves it strengths. They are currently expanding their catalog of reports.

When developing your reporting strategy, keep in mind that there is no perfect reporting tool. Financial Reporting is great for your standard formatted reporting package. It is also very useful for new or casual users since you can limit the dimensions that users have to set. Smart View is good for the more advanced users who are familiar with all of the dimensions. It is also good for quick, ad hoc reporting and analysis.

See, even rival reporting solutions can find a way to be friendly, making reporting easier for everyone.

Mike Arnoldy

About Mike Arnoldy

Mike Arnoldy has over 20 years experience in all phases of design, development, and implementation of financial applications. He has exceptional problem-solving and architecting skills with a strong technical background. He specializes in financial consolidation applications that include complex calculations, foreign currency translation, inter-company/equity eliminations and varied reporting requirements to satisfy both external and management reporting needs. Mike is also a Certified Public Accountant.

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