What happens when your finance team gets high on data

What happens when your finance team gets high on data

Yellowfin has always been a data-focused organisation. But for far too long our finance team has relied on Excel as their core mechanism for analyzing our business.

Recently, that’s changed at Yellowfin thanks to our new CFO, Keith Bold. Keith really understands the power of data and wanted to empower the finance team to join the rest of our organisation who use BI every day.  

Spreadsheets just don’t cut it when running a business


Traditionally, our finance team extracted data out of our BI tool, putting it into excel and then emailing those spreadsheets back to the business. It makes a lot more sense for them to just analyze the information and send it to people from the BI tool where they can access it directly. By switching from spreadsheets, our finance team can deliver the same outcome to the business much more efficiently.

Finance needs analysis, not just reports

As a growing business, we need more than just reports – we need analysis. We also need to move away from an accounting view of the world to one that is commercial. You can’t run a business thinking about what you billed in the past, you need to understand your cash flow, billings and be able to forecast into the future. Our finance team needed new tools and more data to transition to a commercial perspective.

The first area we started with was our CRM data. By accessing this data, our finance team could look at what’s in the pipeline rather than waiting for it to be invoiced. It’s easy to report on invoicing – there’s nothing conceptually difficult about reporting how much we invoiced, where we invoiced or what product we invoiced for. The problem is that this has already happened so we can only respond reactively.

Sales and finance now talk the same data language

By empowering our finance team with CRM data, they could now see the value of the opportunities that were being created. This told them a lot about our future cash flow. It has also given them the ability to analyze and understand our sales cycles, giving us a much deeper understanding of the health of the business than we had before.

In the past, we also had an ongoing battle between sales and finance around revenue recognition, billings, and cash flow. This has been cleared up by using the same tools because we’re all talking the same language. The entire organization now talks in commercial terms rather than financial terms and that’s a huge step forward.

It’s been exciting to see our finance team embrace and use data to add more value to our business. They’re not only more efficient but are now empowered with the tools they need moving forward. For the business, being able to understand and predict our future is where the real value will be generated and that’s a long way from a spreadsheet.