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Blueprints for Finance Data Aggregation

August 5, 2021
Automation inspiration
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If you work in FP&A, we are sure you know how much time and work is spent in balancing Excel sheets. Complex Excel sheets calling each other, with complex functions, for complex aggregations, with manual data import to access cloud and other data sources, can quickly become overwhelming, time consuming, and error prone. See the ten most common issues when using Excel for data operations.

KNIME Analytics Platform can help reliably automate all your operations on financial data. For convenience, we have packaged a few solutions for common accounting and analysis tasks in finance data aggregation. These solutions are intended to be used as blueprints i.e., as a starting point to achieve your own custom solutions by adapting the existing material.

In this blog post, you’ll find an overview of a set of blueprints for finance data aggregation. This set covers different use cases from different industries. Each use case helps you digitize and automate your finance data aggregations: access and combine data from various sources, clean, prepare, and start analyzing it. These finance aggregation solutions cover:

  • Automated Reporting of Receivables
  • Generating Invoice Reports
  • Budget Monitoring Reports
  • Timesheet Aggregation and Analysis
  • Aggregate Google and Excel Sheets for Accounting
  • Annually Recurring Revenue Calculation and Analysis

For each blueprint, find a brief description, plus reference material in the form of links to more blog posts, relevant ebook chapters, or videos. All of the blueprints (workflows) are publicly available for you to download and try out yourself. They are located in the Finance, Accounting, and Audit space on the KNIME Hub. All the verified components used can be downloaded from the Financial Analysis space.

The Advantages of Visual Programming for Finance Teams

The blueprints cover different finance use cases from different industries and demonstrate the advantages that visual programming gives finance teams in comparison with working with spreadsheets. Let’s summarize some of these advantages:

Flexibility. Combining nodes, each performing a special task, you can build extremely flexible and customized workflows to perform various data operations including those used in daily financial tasks.

Reusability. A workflow, once built and configured, can be reused without any adjustments for the up-to-date data. There is no need to perform the same operations each time new data arrives. Furthermore, KNIME Server allows you to schedule workflow execution. When a workflow is standardized and repetitive, you can encapsulate it in a reusable component, create its configuration dialog, and share it. A component is basically your own node that performs your special task.

Error control. You can observe the whole process your data goes through from being read into the workflow, taken through all the pre-processing steps, reporting, visualization, and deployment. At each step, your data are “backupped” in a node’s output.

  • No formula is hidden behind the table values.
  • No data are lost in a series of copy-paste transformations.
  • Errors can easily be traced back and corrected.

Data and tool blending. You can access data directly from both local and remote file systems, databases, cloud storages, and web. There is no need to download data locally first or copy paste the tables. Likewise, you can write your data directly to remote locations and send it directly to the reporting and visualization tools.

Data analytics for everyone. Visual workflows are intuitive. A workflow flows from left to right, nodes have self explaining names, fuzzy search simplifies finding the right node. As a visual programming environment, KNIME doesn’t require you to write code. This means that the time for the learning curve is significantly reduced in comparison with learning how to write code. Web applications running on the KNIME Web Portal allow end users i.e., the finance teams in this case, to interact with their data in an even simpler manner, without any knowledge of KNIME Analytics Platform.