Why BI Tools Can't Automate Finance Operations?

Raghavendra Reddy
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Discover the challenges faced by CFOs when using BI tools. Understand how these tools fail to cater to their specific reporting and analytics needs.
October 26, 2022

Let's kick off this conversation with a thought experiment. Imagine yourself as a CFO at a leading e-commerce business. You're in your office, looking to explain why you missed the quarterly sales target to your investors.

You get the reports from different departments - FP&A, distribution, marketing, and sales - explaining the various factors affecting your overall performance. But none of this helps you any better with telling a holistic story. Say, from a change in consumer behavior to bottlenecks in your sales distribution.

Replace this sales target miss example with any other business scenario. And if you think your current reporting does not cater to your specific issues, you're not alone. Frustration due to data unavailability, siloed analysis, and lack of real-time reporting are commonplace in all organizations.

However, this issue is particularly prominent for large data-driven digital companies like:

- Marketplaces

- Online sellers

- Logistics providers

- Financial services

In this blog post, we examine why general BI tools created challenges for CFOs and why do they need dedicated finance operations software. Let's begin.

Why the investments in BI tools didn't pay off?

Taking our thought experiment a bit further, remember how those BI tools were positioned as a panacea to all your reporting and analytics problems by the vendors. They promised both lower decision-making costs and enhanced reporting flexibility. However, what really happened?

The reason is quite simple. Around 80% of your analytics needs as a leader are ad-hoc in nature. You deal with a constantly changing business environment, requiring you to consume, analyze and understand data across departments.

The BI tools generally used, though useful for the balance of 20% structured reporting, totally fail when it comes to specific questions requiring intelligence.

We often see this burning issue in most finance organizations. More effort is needed to train and operate the employees on new tools while continuously struggling to adapt to create new reports. Data models are still maintained on spreadsheets, exacerbating the challenge.

Challenges of CFOs while working with generic BI tools

Challenge 1: Lack of drill down to transaction level

Data in companies is never full proof. So, finance teams would need to assess anomalies and deviations at transaction level for all kinds of analysis. BI tools have a major limitation in this aspect.

Challenge 2: Report what exists, not what is needed

Most BI tools do not tailor reports based on role requirements. They don't let users create and analyze reports on the fly. For any small analysis needed, users need to reach out to the data team. Self-serve analysis is almost invisible. Thus, they don't offer an intelligent way to create reports, after all.

Challenge 3: No forward-looking insights

Most BI tools (even enterprise tools) can transform data tables into visual charts. Nothing beyond that. While dashboards are helpful in visualizing what has happened in the past, they do not provide any forward-looking view necessary for critical business decisions.

Furthermore, they lack the data modeling and scenario-building abilities necessary for intelligent business decisions. For example, forward-looking working capital projections require data modeling across O2C and P2P inputs, which might not be possible with your current BI tool.

Challenge 4: Limited data capabilities

Traditional BI tools can be significantly limited in the variety and quantity of data they can support. This can significantly affect organizations using small bolt-on tools across departments generating tons of data across formats.

Challenge 5: Lack of collaboration

True intelligence lies not in making insightful decisions, but in tracking and governing the progress of those decisions. While some BI tools provide a real-time commenting and messaging mechanism, most other tools do not support such functionality. This, along with a versioning feature, can be a game-changer, especially in fast-moving environments requiring faster collaborations.


As the finance leader's role has evolved from a custodian and controller to now a business partner and strategic thinker, this change has required them to become the transformation catalyst for the whole organization. This puts data intelligence at the center of every CFO's growth strategy and makes harnessing data across the organization imperative.

In conclusion, general BI tools are not a good fit for CFOs. Dedicated finance operations software can address these limitations and provide CFOs with the data they need to make informed decisions. Bluecopa offers a number of features that are specifically designed for CFOs, including:

- Real-time data: Provides real-time access to data from across the organization, so CFOs can make decisions based on the latest information.

- Ad-hoc reporting: Allows CFOs to create ad-hoc reports on demand, so they can quickly get the information they need.

- Data modeling: Includes powerful data modeling capabilities, so CFOs can create custom reports and dashboards that meet their specific needs.

- Collaboration: Supports real-time collaboration, so CFOs can work with other stakeholders to make informed decisions.

Book a demo to see how Bluecopa helps you make better decisions with data.