Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 34

Do you want to keep up to date with the latest developments in finance, but you are short of time? Don't worry. CFO South Africa weekly collects 10 of the most important articles from international media for your convenience.

1. Forecasting -- The Secret To Controlling Your Business (And Engagin...
A few years ago, a large travel-management company ran an experiment. Three of its North American branches would try out a new way of running the business. The rest would continue as before. After nine months the company compared the two groups' performance. The results? Everyone of the three experimental branches beat its budget for direct profitability, meaning branch revenue minus direct costs. The improvements ranged from 10% to 20%. Exactly none of the company's 24 other branches even made budget, let alone exceeded it.

2. Why You Should Use Business Intelligence In Corporate eLearning
Business Intelligence involves collecting, analyzing, and managing corporate data. This can be anything from customer spending habits to workplace productivity. Companies even use it to track trends and cut costs to ensure future success. But one of the most significant and overlooked benefits of Business Intelligence in corporate eLearning is increasing the effectiveness of your online training program. Here are just some of the reasons why Business Intelligence is such an important tool in corporate eLearning.

3. How the Big Data Explosion Has Changed Decision Making
Organizations I work with increasingly struggle to straddle two painfully polarizing operating principles. On the one hand, they desperately seek greater agility; on the other, they genuinely want to include all the right stakeholders in their processes. This conflict uncomfortably transcends traditional "centralization/decentralization" debates. Customers and clients demand greater agility, and employees and partners expect greater empowerment. So the companies push hard to provide both.

4. Finance Must Ramp Up Role as Analytics Leader
The fictional crime-solver Sherlock Holmes once referred in a conversation to "the curious incident of the dog in the night-time." A Scotland Yard detective replied, "The dog did nothing in the night-time." Holmes retorted, "That was the curious incident." In the field of analytics, the equivalent of the dog that didn't bark is the relatively low level of adoption of advanced analytics in finance and accounting functions.

5. How to tackle the 5 biggest intercompany accounting challenges
Intercompany accounting can be difficult because it deals with money that flows across multiple legal entities of a company. A 2016 Deloitte poll of more than 3,800 accounting and finance professionals suggests that disparate software systems in the different legal entities pose the biggest problem (21.4% of respondents), followed by intercompany settlement (16.8%), complex intercompany agreements (16.7%), transfer-pricing compliance (13.3%), and foreign exchange exposure (9.4%).

6. Stop the Quarterly Madness!
Although it's better to beat consensus estimates than not, it's more important to improve earnings over the year-ago period. Over the last few decades, the quarterly earnings call has taken on increasing importance to many public company CFOs and chief executive officers. I'm concerned that the desire to meet these short-term milestones may, in some cases, lead to decisions that adversely affect success over the longer term.

7. The Forecasting Sweet Spot Between Micro and Macro
Forecasting is the third rail of business. Few companies are really good at it, and there can be big penalties for being wrong. In fact, a survey of more than 500 senior executives showed that only 1% of companies hit their financial forecast over three years, and only one out of five are within 5%. Overall, companies were off by 13%, which impacted shareholder value by 6%.

8. 8 Signs an Employee Is Exceptional (Which Never Appear on Performan...
We can all spot a great employee: she's dependable, proactive, hardworking, a great leader, and a great follower. She brings a wide variety of easily defined--but hard to find--skills to the table. Some employees, though, are exceptional. They have skills and qualities that aren't evaluated on performance appraisals but make a huge impact on that individual's performance, the performance of the people around her, and especially on the company's results. Here are eight signs an employee is truly exceptional.

9. How to change your business strategy and thrive
The technology wave is thrusting new businesses to the top and pulling old ones down. Demographics have flipped, with millennials now outnumbering boomers. Yesterday's strategies may no longer translate. Adapt or perish? Should you turn your risks into opportunities and abandon the strategy that is working for you today? This is exactly what we did at BlueShore Financial. We made a 180-degree shift in our strategy to ensure business longevity and to better serve our clients.

10. 10 tips for using business intelligence tools to maximise ROI in re...
Top Business Intelligence (BI) software tools are no longer just for Fortune 500 companies. A good BI tool can enable any size business to plumb the depths of their "dark data" to identify business improvements, operational efficiencies, marketing opportunities and reductions in loss. What do the best BI tools look like, how do they function, and how best to implement one for your business? With over 18 years of experience in this field, we've distilled our successful implementation knowledge into the following 10 Golden Rules for your consideration.