7 Ways Finance Teams Drive ROI With Tableau

How can finance teams use analytics for better outcomes?

Tableau helps finance departments make their organization's most important decisions: how they spend their time and resources. Businesses use Tableau to make finance analysis and reporting more efficient, get more insights and value out of their financial data, and increase their organization's focus on its strategy and objectives. That means lower costs, more revenue, and a better bottom line.

Here are seven ways leading Finance departments are driving return on investment with Tableau.

1. Efficiency Reporting

Honeywell's Global Finance Center is the global analytics hub for the entire $40 billion company. Before Tableau, the team spent 70% of their analysis time on data extraction, and 30% on manual reporting. By adding visual analysis to their existing finance analytics stack, now their time spent in analysis is just the opposite—since adopting Tableau, Preetham Shanbhag, Senior Director of FP&A Operations at Honeywell estimates they have saved 10,000-20,000 man-hours in reporting and analysis.

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I can tell you that easily it runs into 10,000-20,000 man hours in terms of productivity generated because of the automation and standardization you get out of Tableau. But more than that, to me it's the business value—and you cannot really put a price on it.

2. Cost Avoidance

Oldcastle is North America’s leading manufacturer of building products and materials like masonry and hardscapes, also known as “sexy concrete.” With 20 divisions and 206 facilities across Canada and the United States, the company uses more than 300 Tableau dashboards to track 78,000 SKUs across 206 facilities.

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Additionally, Oldcastle's eleven manufacturing divisions share concrete molds on a national scale. Using Tableau, Oldcastle is able to be smarter with how they use and produce molds, and save their money by avoiding costs.

Instead of creating a new specific mold for a manufacturing project, Oldcastle’s sister companies can reference a Tableau dashboard in real-time to find the location of the needed mold nearby—saving costly resources and expediting manufacturing timelines.

"One of the visualizations that was easiest to make was a mold tracking visualization. It went from zero to 60 overnight. We have about 200 production people that are looking at it all at the same time,” said Paul Lisborg, Manager of Business Intelligence at Oldcastle.

A better CFO, for me, is being a true business partner to the business president. My favorite part of my job is sitting at the leadership table and bringing insight to the management group and bringing it in real time—proposing something to improve operations. In my role in finance, especially with tools like Tableau, I can do that far quicker, cheaper, faster, and in so doing, I get a kick. I help the business be more successful.”

3. Identifying Fraud and Risk

For organizations or groups just starting to use data analytics to prevent or detect fraud, this can seem time-consuming or even impossible. It’s not. Find out more about how to take a proactive approach to expose risk and ensure compliance using Tableau in 5 easy steps.

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4. Profitability and Growth Analysis

No matter your industry, a CFO needs to be able to quickly combine complex profit and loss data in order to recognize overall quarterly and yearly performance, as well as be able to analyze profitability and growth—all critical to strategic planning and decision-making.

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Which segments are most profitable? Where is high growth occurring? What are your challenges and opportunities? By placing all product segments in dynamic quadrants, CFOs can define winners, losers, and areas of opportunity with Tableau.

This CFO dashboard provides an overall picture of yearly performance over the past three years, as well as key financial metrics such as net sales, net profit, and net profit margin. Learn more about how to track profit and loss with this Tableau workbook.

Using Tableau, last year we owned a 2 percent increase in revenue, that’s $200 million U.S. dollars. If you want to own the money in the aviation or transportation industry, you're using Tableau.

5. Expense Reduction

Wells Fargo & Co, a well-known international banking and financial services organization, needed to wrangle and reduce its third party spending without impacting business operations. With Tableau, their finance team has been able to quickly identify and stop wasteful spending with non-preferred suppliers in cost centers like office supplies and travel and expense.

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With Tableau, Wells Fargo's finance team identified key metrics including team member influence and spend per person, so they could fairly compare spending by different departments within the organization for each cost center. Dashboards like this one reveal the worst offenders, and clicking into the details reveals insights about suppliers and root causes. Using Tableau, Wells Fargo's year-end travel spending revealed $10 million in transactions for review.

Tableau helped us identify outliers that peak interest, which helps LOB leaders be committed to dig in further… Once we’re able to show them the opportunity, they’re willing to support it.

6. Revenue Forecasting

Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, operator of 65 unique boutique properties across the U.S., needed a better way to report and forecast future revenue opportunities and risks. Within Kimpton, there were historic issues with fragmented data and reporting structures, so managers and leaders across the organization struggled to report and glean insights from forecasts in real-time.

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Tableau allowed Kimpton to connect to all of the necessary data from the many different sources to serve as a primary source of truth for the entire organization (10,000+employees). For example, this dashboard—where the green boxes represent big opportunities and the red boxes represent risk, answers about forecasting things like group sales bookings are available in seconds, not days or weeks.

That really resonated well with GMs and directors of sales, and even directors of finance, because they can just say ‘There’s a problem there, let's talk about it. Let’s create a strategy.

7. Cash Flow Management

Where's the money going? What vendors are getting paid? What are the historical cash flows through the company’s bank accounts? Tableau's own Treasury team uses Tableau for global cash management. Learn more in the team's TC17 presentation.

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This cash flow summary dashboard helps management understand what cash flows look like in aggregate, in US Dollar terms, but also still allows anyone to drill down into the data for any view that someone within the organization needs.

For example, users can ask, "What are our balances by currency? By subsidiary, country, banking partner or geography?" They can also filter out certain transactions that might gross up the numbers like investment sweeps and zero balance account (ZBA) structures.

Tableau created a process to import daily bank statements that enriches the data with the assignment of a Cash Flow Type and Cash Flow Sub-Type to each transaction, which allows users to focus their analysis on the transaction flows that are most relevant for the questions at hand.

Tableau lets us connect to multiple data sources that contain cash balance and cash flow data including our bank statement database, investments database, ERP and other source systems without the need for expensive and time consuming data integration efforts which limit the underlying transaction level data that the Treasury team needs to work with.