Discover how one CFO built a data-driven finance team

13th Oct 2021
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Michael Sheehan, CFO of the Irish Times & Examiner Group, shares how he uses data to deliver the management reports his fast-growing group needs.

Q: What does a data-driven finance team look like to you?

A well-functioning finance department needs to prioritise three key principles:

  1. Strategy: aligned with and helping to drive the Group’s strategy
  2. Support: it’s essential to provide support to internal stakeholders across the Group 
  3. Data-driven: business decisions must be data-driven, and not led by hunches or gut feelings.

To deliver on all these, access to real-time/live reporting is paramount. That data must be reliable, accurate and presented in a way end-users can easily grasp. Although accountants are very familiar with Excel spreadsheets, they don't work for everyone. 

Real-time/live data is one of the key ways a finance team adds value to the business. You can’t influence change if your management accounts go into the second week post month. The reliability and accuracy of your data depends on having control over the processes at source data level. Get this right and you’re a long way down the line to creating a data-driven finance team. 

Q: What are your ‘must-haves’ to run a data-driven finance team? 

First, ensure you have good controls and governance. All stakeholders need to have complete confidence in the quality of the information generated by the team. We also have to provide timely and accurate responses to any queries raised across the business. 

To do that effectively we need technology. It’s the only way we can reduce the amount of admin involved in creating financial information. Modern cloud accounting software vastly reduces the time spent on mundane, repetitive tasks and enables the team to focus on value-added work.

Finance teams have valuable skills that other areas of the business may not have. Team members are expected to be proactive and spot cost-saving and revenue growth opportunities. But they need 'touch of a button' daily, weekly, and monthly reporting functionality to action those opportunities.  

Q: How does AccountsIQ’s reporting functionality help your finance team?

By implementing AccountsIQ across the Group, we moved from an 8-to-10-day group management accounts cycle to less than 5 days. We can also consolidate our group management accounts at the touch of a button. This means we can get both a business unit and group view at any time.

We can create KPI reporting across AP and AR quickly and easily. That gives our management team an almost instant snapshot of how transactional finance teams are performing. AccountsIQ’s API integration with our sales systems has also taken the admin out of processing some of our larger revenue streams.

Find out more about real time management reporting 

Download our new eBook: Smarter Finance: How Finance Leaders are achieving data-driven growth


Data Driven Finance: Management Reporting Webinar

When: Wednesday 20th October at 11am


  • How capturing the right data will give you one version of the truth
  • The flexible GL structure and 6 dimensions (BI codes) to give you multi-dimensional analysis
  • Consolidated P&Ls & dashboards so you can react swiftly to market conditions
  • The key management reports that equip the leadership team with deep-dive analysis capability.

Sign up for our free Management Reporting Webinar