Digging into Spring19: Enhanced Workflows

When our quarterly product enhancements are released, such as with the recent Spring19, our customers have near-instant access to a plethora of exciting new features and improved capabilities. Some of those bits might be completely new products while others could be minor tweaks that potentially go unnoticed. But when viewed from the perspective of a specific finance activity nearly every enhancement becomes much more tangible.

This post is the first in a four-part series digging deeper into Spring19 and showcasing how finance teams can use the new capabilities to accelerate, streamline, or otherwise improve their daily and periodic activities. There are literally hundreds of changes in every Host Analytics release. But rather than listing off every individual improvement and addition in Spring19, we think it’s easier to explain them in terms of these four specific areas where customers will realize the greatest impact:

  1. Enhanced Workflows
  2. Modern User Interface
  3. Greater Control
  4. Data Integrations

We’ll dig into Enhanced Workflows here and then we’ll post subsequent parts of this series over the next few weeks.

Workflow combines how people interact with an application, how data flows, and how the user interface presents itself to accomplish a task or realize an outcome. Workflows touch every part of the Host Analytics platform and serve as the connectors between the people, processes, and technology that ultimately helps finance get the job done.

Better Task Management

Task Management, for example, is a primary means for ensuring workflow progression, since it defines responsibilities, timing and due dates, deliverables, objectives, and more. It pulls everyone into the process and gives them visibility into the components which impact them or where their deliverables impact other areas. Task Management also enables the team to work together and collaborate in a more efficient and meaningful way. That accountability and transparency keeps everyone informed of, and working towards, objectives and due dates.

Host Analytics Task Manager is also very visual so finance can keep track of workflow status at a glance. And it lets managers see clearly where bottlenecks are occurring or where extra attention might be needed.

In this release, we’ve added multi-tier approvals so teams can get more people involved in the business process and customize the workflow in greater detail to match the way they work. We’ve added new visual tools so it’s easier to track the status of the overall process. Auto-task generation automates task setup by scenario and by user roles so that new planning scenarios and all the associated workflow activities are automatically created in a matter of seconds.

To encourage collaboration, new features at the task-level give collaborators the ability to attach documents to individual tasks and communicate the status with other uses through comments. Along the way, all activity is tracked in a detailed audit log so it’s always easy to see who did what and how the plan was built.

Easier Budgeting and Reporting

Managing the annual budgeting process is a great way for finance to take advantage of the new and enhanced workflow capabilities of Host Analytics. This process typically takes weeks or months to complete and requires the input of dozens or hundreds of people from across an organization. Task management eases the annual budgeting process with better team coordination.

Similarly, the periodic monthly and quarterly close, and related financial reporting, can be made more efficient and completed on time through better workflow orchestration. Task Management can pull business managers, executives, auditors, compliance, and more into the overall management of the process. This helps teams spot bottlenecks sooner and so they can be overcome without missing dates for these critical periodic close and reporting activities.

More Collaboration with the Business

Other finance processes that require cross-functional input include board reporting packages and annual audits. Finance cannot complete these without the involvement of many other teams, so a centralized mechanism for managing the various activities ensures on time completion.

Many organizations also conduct quarterly or annual market or competitive analyses, which finance typically helps coordinate. Maybe specific key performance indicators are tracked, such as sales win rates, revenue by industry or region, deal counts, and even customer and product profitability metrics. This is, again, a cross-functional activity that requires input, data, and expertise from well outside of finance. Task Management ensures everyone understands their responsibilities and deadlines so the analyses are completed on time and with the right level of insights.

Continuing the Transformation of Finance

Modern finance is all about connecting the entire business around financial goals and business performance. As more organizations transform and evolve finance to become central to achieving business goals, finance will need to take a more active role in managing the growing number of cross-functional activities that inform their decisions. The Enhanced Workflow capabilities of Spring19 give finance the tools and visibility to start taking more control of those processes today.

We’ll dig into how Spring19 continues to modernize the Host Analytics user interface to help finance work in a faster, more intuitive manner in our next post. Stay tuned for more from the Host team!

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