ETL is a data transforming concept that comes from words: extract, transform, load. In general, it’s a “procedure of copying data from one or more sources into a destination system which represents the data differently from the source(s) or in a different context than the source(s)”. Since its introduction in the 1970’s, ETL is still a powerful tool to consolidate your data to understand them better and make more informed decisions.
ETL is also a highly applicable concept within controlling area but we often see its underdevelopment or underusage. With this article, we’d like to reveal some pros and examples of how can you utilize your ETL practices to empower your controlling teams and allow them to become more strategical resource for the organization.
1. Why should I review my ETL engagement?
We live in a digital transformation era, right? Well, from our field experience, we often see controlling teams overwhelmed with manual data processing. Too much time is being spent on calculating KPI’s instead of challenging or fulfilling them. Many companies struggle with using Excel spreadsheet for data management, which requires significant time, focus and involvement. Instead of wasting time and effort on trying to control everything in Excel, bringing forward ETL practices can introduce substantial benefits.
2. How ETL can help me with my strategic business conversations?
There are numerous benefits you can gain from introducing the ETL approach into your work.
- Increasing your time resources
Once, when I was working with a work effectiveness consultant, he pointed out a simple, yet often forgotten truth – an increase in productivity can come from simply managing your time more effectively and investing time in more impactful activities. Releasing your time from repetitive work can create space to actually think about the appropriateness of the KPI’s you are trying to report. And maybe this will bring some fresh perspective that will allow redefining things into more reality reflecting indicators.
- Automating your data processing activities and limiting the number of errors
A well–designed ETL can free you up from the repetitive activities we usually perform to get to the real data that we should reflect on. Many controlling representatives we worked with express being in the gruelling cycle: data download – data process in order to calculate desired KPI’s – data presentation and back again to data download. Besides time waste, there are many steps in the process where human involvement can generate errors changing or preventing the results from happening. Look at the example below, which shows a simple flow chart:
In this particular situation after we initiate the error check, we can obtain a report which will show us a particular place where our data is incorrect. Comparing that to spreadsheet-oriented approach, this case will not result with this level of detail – orientation and effectiveness, thus we end up in a longer investigation process for revealing the exact position of an error – example given below:
- Becoming an insightful data source in business conversations
Most of the organizations we work with are enterprise customers with established structures and processes in the organization. But with a process-oriented approach and speciality comes the threat of silos organization. It can bring different challenges and even losses to the company– from cost inefficiencies to customer journey inconsistency. Realizing how you as an employee or a department impact work and results of other employees, departments and eventually your entire organization is in high regards. Surprisingly, ETL can not only work and transfer the data – but it can also visualize and explain the data in a way, that can help people noticing and understanding the impact and potential benefits of their own decisions – be it for a team, department, or whole organization.
- Substituting some other reporting systems
While creating a well-versed ETL framework takes some time, it’s worth taking the effort. After initial analysis and preparing data for extraction the stable flow of data can allow you to use the process for reporting performed by some other solutions or tools, thus making the initial investment – carefully considered – will eventually pay off. Also, by using ETL you will be able to remove the extra cost of maintenance/development of different tools in use, which is another cost optimization tactic. A good example is activity-based costing – with the assist of a skilled ETL consultant you can create a framework that will do the job of cost reporting equal to separate solutions implementation.
3. Things to remember about when investing more into ETL development
As shown above, ETL can be a great way to saving time and money while becoming more focused on strategic tasks and conversations. But we need to keep remembering that this is just a concept, which will neither replace employee analytics nor experience judgement of a controller.
What’s worth remembering is that when you apply the ETL concept to your organization, it comes with a need for consultants who will allow smooth and effective implementation. As we’ve analysed the pros and cons of working with external partners, you can obtain more information from our other article:
In case you’d like to get more familiar with your Aptitude Software ETL functionalities, please drop us a line. We’d be happy to answer your question using our free 15min. consultation.
FIIT Consulting are Aptitude Software consultants who support customers in their finance transformation with unmatched quality of people, deeper and broader expertise and revolutionary and future- proof solutions.