Latest research from BARC’s analyst team

Account Reconciliation and Closing cover

Infographic: “Account Reconciliation and Closing”

The BARC report Account Reconciliation and Closing – The Journey from Excel to Artificial Intelligence looks at current practices around account reconciliation and the closing process, the extent to which specialized IT solutions are used to prepare consolidated financial statements and the possibilities to improve consolidated statements.

Based on an online survey of 110 companies in the DACH region, this infographic highlights some of the key findings from the study.

Click here to find out more and download the full study.

Account Reconciliation and Closing infographic

 

Click here to find out more and download the full study

Account Reconciliation and Closing cover

Press Release: The Fast Close Movement Is Not Over

PRESS RELEASE – WÜRZBURG, April 15th, 2021

BARC (Business Application Research Center) today published the results of its topical survey “Account Reconciliation and Closing – The Journey from Excel to Artificial Intelligence”. In the study, Dr. Susanne Leitner-Hanetseder, Professor of Accounting at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria in Steyr, and BARC Fellow Stefan Sexl offer insights into current practices around account reconciliation and the closing process and show to what extent and with which IT solutions consolidated financial statements are prepared. They also examine the possibilities to improve consolidated statements and the associated challenges. The study is available for download free of charge thanks to sponsorship by Wolters Kluwer.

Key findings

  • #1: The level of automation of group accounting is still very weak
  • #2:Manual workarounds are still number one when it comes to data preparation and closing at single entity level, resulting in Excel still playing a major role in the process
  • #3: Faster closing is still the main challenge that companies will face in the coming years

According to a new BARC survey, the opportunities for automating the group accounting process are not yet recognized. Many companies still operate with a low level of automation. Only 1% of the companies surveyed considers their automation of consolidated financial statements as excellent. The overall degree of automation of group accounting processes is quite weak.

This is also represented by the finding that manual workarounds are still number one when it comes to data preparation and closing at single entity level. 57% of participants state that they use Excel for data and closing preparation in single entities (See Figure 1). Although the closing of consolidated financial statements is usually done by the parent company, an optimized group accounting process starts with data preparation and reconciliation at single entity level.

“Companies tend to overlook the inherent risks of using Excel, such as a lack of division of duties, no options to standardize processes, no control over preparation, review and approval, limited speed and reconciliation”, said Dr. Susanne Leitner-Hanetseder, Professor of Accounting and co-author of this study.

What are you using for data and closing preparation in single entities?

Figure 1: What are you using for data and closing preparation in single entities? (n=110) © BARC

 

Faster closing is still perceived as a major challenge, but there are more issues to solve

Aiming for faster closing is nothing new in the corporate world. However, many companies have not properly addressed this goal yet. Asked about the challenges perceived with regard to account closing and reconciliation in the next 3 years, faster closing is revealed as a major pain point. Even when broken down by maturity level (best-in-class companies versus laggards), fast closing is no less significant (see Figure 2).

What challenges do you see for account closing and reconciliation in the next 3 years?

Figure 2: What challenges do you see for account closing and reconciliation in the next 3 years (n=59), by best-in-class © BARC

The study underlines that fast closing has not been achieved to a satisfactory level yet and that, even in best-in-class companies, there is room for improvement.

A faster close also requires that the group accounting process is integrated with other processes to reduce time lag. The study results show that this integration of processes represents a challenge of its own for many companies given their current disparate systems and dependency on Excel.

A key factor is the creation of an end-to-end reporting process, from recording through consolidation and reporting, and executing within one model. Group accounting processes also depend on regulations and requirements such as shorter deadlines. Therefore, there is a need to adapt processes when regulations or requirements change. Furthermore, due to the “digital transformation”, companies will have to adapt or change their business models. “Companies realize that the necessity to change structures and make organizational changes also requires them to adapt processes for group accounting”, said Stefan Sexl, BARC analyst and co-author of the study.

About the survey

Account Reconciliation and Closing – The Journey from Excel to Artificial Intelligence is a topical BARC survey about current practices around account reconciliation and the closing process. The study is based on a survey of 110 companies from various industries and of different sizes in the DACH region. The focus of the study is to show to what extent and with which IT solutions consolidated financial statements are prepared. The study also examines possibilities for improving consolidated statements and the associated challenges. The authors of the study are Dr. Susanne Leitner-Hanetseder, Professor of Accounting at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria in Steyr and Stefan Sexl, BARC Fellow.

Useful links

Click here to download the full study from the sponsor’s website
Further information about “Account Reconciliation and Closing”
Infographic

About BARC

BARC (Business Application Research Center) is one of Europe’s leading analyst firms for business software, focusing on the areas of data, business intelligence (BI) and analytics, enterprise content management (ECM) and customer relationship management (CRM). The company was founded in 1999 as a spin-off of the Chair of Business Administration and Information Systems at the Julius-Maximilians-University in Würzburg. Today, BARC combines empirical and theoretical research, technical expertise and practical experience, including a constant exchange with all market participants.

Contact

For further information, please contact:

Regina Schmidt
Communications Manager
Tel: +49 (0) 931 880651-47
Mobile: + 49 (0) 1520 431 82 39
Email: rschmidt@barc.de

Christian Fuchs

One Size Fits All? How to Find the Right BARC Score Segment for Your Shortlist

BARC analysts Christian Fuchs and Nina Lorenz offer up some advice on how to use BARC Score in your financial performance management and integrated planning & analytics software selection projects.

Christian Fuchs

Sneak Preview: The 2021 BARC Score Financial Performance Management

A preview of BARC Score Financial Performance Management 2021, BARC’s overview of the market for Financial Performance Management (FPM) software tools.

Christian Fuchs

A Sneak Peek at the 2021 BARC Score Integrated Planning & Analytics (IP&A)

A preview of BARC Score Integrated Planning & Analytics 2021, BARC’s overview of the market for Integrated Planning & Analytics (IP&A) software tools.

Christian Fuchs

How BARC Scores Help Companies to Assess and Classify Business Software Markets

The assessment and classification of business software and its suppliers, for example in the software selection process, can often be a complicated task for companies. BARC Scores are designed to demystify this process.

Data, BI & Analytics Trend Monitor 2021 cover

Infographic: “Data, BI & Analytics Trend Monitor 2021”

The BARC report “Data, BI & Analytics Trend Monitor 2021” examines the importance of a number of current market trends from an end-user perspective.

Based on a survey of 2,259 data management, BI and analytics practitioners, this infographic highlights some of the key findings from the study.

Click here to find out more and download the full study.

Data, BI & Analytics Trend Monitor 2021 infographic

 

Click here to find out more and download the full study.

The Future of Analytics cover

Press Release: Advanced Analytics Will Gain Traction – but Only if Data and Analytics Literacy Keeps Up

PRESS RELEASE – WÜRZBURG, October 29th, 2020

BARC (Business Application Research Center) releases the results of its new topical survey “The Future of Analytics”. The global survey gives insights into current use of advanced analytics and sheds light on its future development in terms of its role for companies, relevant user groups, processes and technologies. The study is available for download free of charge thanks to sponsorship by Dataiku, Qlik and Tableau.

Key findings

  • #1: Implementing analytics requires a mix of the right technology, education, strategy and internal marketing
  • #2: Automated machine learning and augmented analytics can support experts but will not replace data science teams in the future
  • #3: Data management and analytics literacy needs to be improved

Tools, skills and strategy drive advanced analytics forward

Although advanced analytics has been a hot topic for several years now, promoting it within the organization is the top priority for its successful use. 97 percent of survey respondents regard it as important to promote analytics, as well as data understanding and competence, within their company. Having the right tools for the right users is rated as the second most important requirement (95 percent).

aspects of advanced analytics

How important are the following points in the successful use of advanced analytics in your company? (n=298) © BARC

Another important point is the definition of a holistic data strategy. In terms of future investment priorities, improving data management is rightly seen as a top priority by 64 percent of respondents. “It is not surprising that improved data management is considered a success factor and an investment priority,” said Alexander Rode, Analyst and Data Scientist at BARC and co-author of this survey. “Advanced analytics requires access to data for entire new user groups, making new data sources accessible and establishing relationships between data beyond traditional data warehouse models.”

AutoML makes data scientists and business analysts more efficient – but won’t replace them any time soon

With automated machine learning applications (AutoML), mathematical models are trained, optimized and evaluated automatically on the basis of data selected by humans. More than 80 percent of respondents see AutoML solutions as a way to make business analysts and data scientists more efficient. But expert knowledge is still required to use these solutions and interpret results. While 79 percent of respondents see AutoML being increasingly used by data scientists, only 53 percent see business analysts, who often lack deep statistical knowledge, using these tools.

automated machine learning

To what extent do you agree with the following statements regarding automated machine learning (AutoML)? (n=277) © BARC

Only 20 percent anticipate that the roles of data scientist and business analyst will be replaced by automated machine learning solutions. “This makes sense as there are many analytical tasks that require human intervention, such as problem formulation, selection of the right method and error measure, and interpretation of results,” explained Rode. “Data science still requires human input on, for example, the definition of use cases, the evaluation of results and decisions about whether to operationalize a prototype and integrate solutions into the organization.” 

About the survey

The Future of Analytics” is a BARC market research study that examines the future prospects for the development of advanced analytics in terms of its role for companies, relevant user groups, processes and technologies. It is based on a worldwide survey of 317 companies of various sizes and industries. The authors of the study are BARC Analysts and Data Scientists Dr. Sebastian Derwisch and Alexander Rode.

Useful links

Further information about “The Future of Analytics” and to download the study
Infographic

About BARC

BARC (Business Application Research Center) is one of Europe’s leading analyst firms for business software, focusing on the areas of data, business intelligence (BI) and analytics, enterprise content management (ECM) and customer relationship management (CRM). The company was founded in 1999 as a spin-off of the Chair of Business Administration and Information Systems at the Julius-Maximilians-University in Würzburg. Today, BARC combines empirical and theoretical research, technical expertise and practical experience, including a constant exchange with all market participants.

Contact

For further information, please contact:

Regina Schmidt
Communications Manager
Tel: +49 (0) 931 880651-47
Mobile: + 49 (0) 1520 431 82 39
Email: rschmidt@barc.de

The Future of Analytics cover

Infographic: “The Future of Analytics”

Advanced analytics has come a long way in recent years since the hype around big data ignited. Since then, a considerable number of companies have prototyped analytics solutions and sought to operationalize them.

BARC’s study “The Future of Analytics” is based on a global survey of 317 professionals working with advanced analytics. It examines the future prospects for the development of advanced analytics in terms of its role for companies, relevant user groups, processes and technologies.

This infographic highlights 4 key findings from the survey.

Click here to find out more and download the full study.

The Future of Analytics infographic

 

Click here to find out more and download the full study.

The BI & Analytics Survey 21

Press Release: Faster Is Not Always Better – but in BI and Analytics It Is

PRESS RELEASE – WÜRZBURG, October 27th, 2020

The BI & Analytics Survey is published today. BARC’s flagship annual research study analyzes feedback from a survey of 2,591 users and consultants on their selection and use of BI and analytics software and their views on market trends.

The fastest projects deliver the greatest business benefits

While decent benefits are obtained by BI and analytics projects with the longest implementation times, there is clear evidence that the fastest projects achieve the highest level of business benefits – and this gap has widened in the last twelve months (see Figure 1).

“This shows that timely results are crucial when implementing your analytics and BI solutions,” said Robert Tischler, Senior BARC Analyst and author of The BI & Analytics Survey 21. “Quick reaction to changing requirements driven by developments inside or outside a company straightforwardly impact the benefits and insights gleaned. Cutting requirements into slices to deliver benefits to users as quickly as possible is a fruitful approach as the evidence clearly shows.”

The BI & Analytics Survey 21 press release fig 1

Figure 1: Level of business benefits achieved, by implementation time, 2020 (n=1,708) vs. 2019 (n=2,055)

 

Today’s projects finish faster

The median implementation time for BI and analytics projects is currently just over four months. However, the proportion of projects completed within three months is significantly higher for projects that started less than two years ago (54 percent) compared to older projects (43 percent). This shows that changes in technology as well as project methodology enable customers to deliver solutions quicker and yield benefits faster.

BI and analytics are like wine – they improve with age

On average, BI and analytics implementations in place for more than two years generate greater benefits than their more recent counterparts.

“Do not expect all benefits to materialize immediately,” advised Tischler. “Analytics and BI is not a one-time project but an ongoing effort that constantly delivers value for businesses. Similarly, buyers should not expect to cover the full scope of solutions that have existed and matured over 20 years in 20 weeks as too much is baked into these established systems.”

The BI & Analytics Survey 21 press release fig 2

Figure 2: Level of business benefits achieved, by age of implementation (n=1,682)

 

BI and analytics are increasingly embedded in business applications

Embedding BI and analytics is currently a hot topic with many vendors focused on delivering polished content through OEM. The proportion of users working with embedded BI and analytics solutions has steadily increased in recent years but there is still room for growth.

“While several large vendors embed their own analytics products in their business applications portfolio, a number of smaller specialists are providing their solutions as OEM embedded in third-party business applications,” said Tischler. “This approach is increasingly being pursued as sophisticated BI functions are expected in most business applications today. For OEM-heavy vendors, packaging a solution with prebuilt content is a possible route to landing at important accounts and expanding beyond the initial scope of the solution.”

The BI & Analytics Survey 21 press release fig 3

Figure 3: Use of embedded analytics and BI over time (n=changing basis)

 

About The BI & Analytics Survey

The BI & Analytics Survey 21 (formerly known as The BI Survey) is the 19th edition of BARC’s major annual study into the selection and use of analytics and business intelligence tools. The findings are based on a worldwide survey of 2,591 software users, consultants and vendors, which was conducted from late February to early June 2020. It features current data on market trends as well as detailed analysis and comparison of 33 leading software products from 28 different vendors based on user feedback. The survey was renamed to “The BI & Analytics Survey 21” this year to reflect the stronger overall role that data and analytics now plays.

For more information, visit:
https://bi-survey.com/bi-survey-about

For aggregated product-related results and an online product comparison tool, visit:
https://bi-survey.com/business-intelligence-software-comparison

About BARC

BARC (Business Application Research Center) is one of Europe’s leading analyst firms for business software, focusing on the areas of data, business intelligence (BI) and analytics, enterprise content management (ECM) and customer relationship management (CRM). The company was founded in 1999 as a spin-off of the Chair of Business Administration and Information Systems at the Julius-Maximilians-University in Würzburg. Today, BARC combines empirical and theoretical research, technical expertise and practical experience, including a constant exchange with all market participants.

Contact

For further information, please contact:

Regina Schmidt
Communications Manager
Tel: +49 (0) 931 880651-47
Mobile: + 49 (0) 1520 431 82 39
E-Mail: rschmidt@barc.de