How Microsoft’s New Finance Insights Can Unlock the Transformative Power of Data for CFOs

For enterprise CFOs, there’s no shortage of stressors these days. The list of headwinds includes:

  • the difficulties of attracting and retaining talent in the wake of the Great Resignation
  • ever-increasing costs that outstrip revenues and make it hard to stay profitable
  • the ongoing turbulence caused by supply chain disruptions

On top of all that, CFOs might be forgiven for feeling like they’re drowning in data. For financial leaders, there’s never been so much access to continuously updated, granular data about everything from manufacturing and logistics to customer behavior and the supply chain itself.

All that data holds a wealth of promise — but when it’s siloed and scattered across legacy ERPs, financial software and Excel spreadsheets, it can’t live up to its highest potential. Disconnected data is a little like having money that’s sitting around in your accounts and hasn’t been properly managed or invested, so it isn’t working for you.

The quest for financial leaders is to be able to take that disorganized information and find ways to unlock the opportunities it can deliver, by putting it into connected systems where it can be properly understood.

As the popular saying goes: “Make it make sense.”

That’s where the new Finance Insights capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance come to the rescue: They make sense out of the chaos that has previously plagued financial management processes, by bringing AI and sophisticated analytics to bear on the problem.

What is Finance Insights — and What Can It Do for Me?

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance is a financial management suite that allows business to:

  • Monitor the real-time performance of global financial operations
  • Do a better job of predicting future outcomes
  • Make data-driven decisions that help fuel growth

One its best and newest additions is Finance Insights. Announced this year, Finance Insights is a set of AI-powered features within Dynamics 365 Finance that takes financial operations to a higher plane of efficiency and clarity.

The new functionality that Finance Insights offers can transform and redefine your approach in three key areas:

  • Customer Payment Insights
  • Cash Flow Forecasting
  • Intelligent Budget Proposals

Customer Payment Insights

Among the most keenly felt pain points for business can be the process of trying to predict when customers will pay their invoices. Lack of visibility into customer payments:

  • makes it difficult to accurately forecast cash flow
  • makes it hard to manage collections appropriately
  • may result in orders being sent to customers who can’t and won’t pay for them

Add this to the burdens that accounts receivable teams already experience when trying to wrangle siloed data housed in multiple places — a time-consuming data management problem that combines with the lack of insight to allow mounting receivables to get out of control.

But the arrival of Customer Payment Insights in Dynamics 365 Finance sheds new light on this previously murky area. By leveraging the power of machine learning combined with historical customer data analysis, accounts receivable departments can predict whether specific customers are more likely to pay their invoices late or on time — and even forecast when a given invoice is likely to be paid, along with a margin of error for context.

This learning makes it possible for the collections process to become proactive. With Customer Payment Insights in their toolbox, finance teams can apply intelligent collection strategies tailored to specific customers’ patterns, based on data and deep understanding instead of gut sense and arbitrary, one-size-fits all policies.

Businesses can also use these insights to automate the process of following up with customers who are genuinely at risk of nonpayment — which can have profound benefits for cash flow, as well as building more solid customer relationships.

Cash Flow Forecasting

Speaking of cash flow, forecasting it comes with its own headaches. The process of trying to connect the dots of siloed data into a coherent understanding that will enable sound predictions can be arduous — and all too often, largely fruitless. What’s worse, inaccurate forecasts lead to unsuccessful strategies and wrong decisions.

That’s where the capabilities of Finance Insights become invaluable. Dynamics 365 Finance makes it possible for businesses to apply insights from time-series cash flow forecasts, coupled with the customer payment predictions discussed earlier — while automatically integrating data from external systems and reports.

Finance Insights allows your team to utilize historical data, trends, forecasts and “what if” scenarios to generate insight-driven budget predictions. All of which results in the ability to monitor and manage the flow of funds at a higher level, backed by real information.

Intelligent Budget Proposals

Budgeting is a complicated task, fraught with the kind of uncertainty that can really benefit from some illumination — because it traditionally depends on some guesswork about the future. Beyond that, its accuracy can be hampered by the inability to properly assess the implications of the disconnected data that’s already on hand.

Intelligent Budget Proposals, another great component of Finance Insights, can replace that guesswork and uncertainty with AI-powered insights, by mining years of data to enable better budgeting decisions.

This allows you to streamline and simplify the budgeting process — while creating clear-eyed budgets that are driven by deeper understanding, so you can achieve better outcomes.

Want to learn more about how Columbus can help you tap into the power of the new Finance Insights in Dynamics 365 Finance? Get in touch with us today.

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