We live in an increasingly mobile world, and to keep up, managers and chief financial officers need information with them. Mobile handheld devices are now enabling information access like never before and are freeing decision makers from being restricted to the office, carrying a laptop, or worse, carrying folders of paper reports. However, companies looking to enable their mobile employees with usable financial information -- such as that from Oracle Hyperion Financial Management -- are experiencing challenges.
Smaller screen sizes make the effort more complicated than merely repurposing reports used for desktop or laptop presentation. To successfully adopt a Hyperion mobile platform in your company, you must address key factors unique to handheld devices. Adopting these best practices will ensure you have the right information presented in a usable way and, most importantly, the information is presented and maintained securely.
First, decide what information you want to access, such as income statements, balance sheets or cash flow data. The type of information presented is an important determining factor in deciding the look and feel of your reports. Second, determine what level of detail should be in the reports. Armed with this information, you can decide whether it can best be displayed using reports, in a graphical representation using charts, or a combination of the two.
The next factor to consider is the type, size and display capabilities of the target device. When compared with a typical laptop or desktop screen, mobile devices (especially phones) have considerably smaller screens. As a result, you need to tailor the presentation of Hyperion financial information to the device.
For phones, it may be necessary to focus more on key performance indicators and reporting metrics instead of full-page reports. Users will most likely want to see these presented numerically or graphically as a trend or variance. This would be similar to a dashboard approach, but you don't want a user to have to constantly zoom in to be able to see the information.
Tablets provide more display space and a generally higher resolution. More information can be included on a single screen, including the ability to display a typical desktop-/laptop-bound financial report in condensed format. However, you should still work to limit the amount of zooming and scrolling required.
Last but certainly not least, you need to consider security. How do you make your Hyperion financial and operational data mobile without compromising its security? Just a couple of years ago, iPads were viewed as fashionable devices, but had limited use as business tools beyond email. Since then, software vendors have provided VPN access and purpose-built applications to enable access to traditionally desktop-based applications. As a result, many IT departments have embraced these devices as an extension of existing IT infrastructures. This development and related security practices unique to the mobile platform are enabling users to have access to critical data in a secure way. Examples of these practices include the following:
- Establishing device-level security in addition to the standard username and password for securing data.
- Enabling remote data wiping to secure the device in the event of loss or theft.
In conclusion, accessing Hyperion financial management information through a mobile phone, tablet and others is becoming a common practice at higher levels of many organizations. Providing safe and effective solutions for the increasing number of mobile decision makers requires an approach that considers both the restrictions and unique capabilities of each mobile device type.
Juan Porter is the president of TopDown Consulting.