Add Power Behind Existing Spreadsheets
Most BPM systems (BPMS) address this specific need using a database server. Data can be imported from the GL system, or multiple GLs if you have multiple entities using different systems, on a scheduled basis. Data from operational systems can also be imported to support assumption or business driver analysis. Existing spreadsheet templates can be leveraged for presentation of the data, and new reports can be easily created using BPMS-specific spreadsheet functions or add-ons.
While the GL system may have a reporting function, BPMS excel over GL systems in that they can capture non-financial data and also usually have a lot of flexibility in terms of reporting formats and querying (both standardized and ad-hoc). The technology they use (sometimes called OLAP or data cubes) is also superior and much more efficient in querying compared to the GL—allowing reports to be more flexible and generated must faster. This is due to a fundamental difference in their purposes: the GL is designed to record transactions, whereas BPMS are designed to support hierarchies and perform computations quickly—just think of them as spreadsheets on mega-steroids.
Enable Flexibility and Security
For example, if a user were looking at company-wide net revenue on a profit and loss (P&L) report, a drill-down on the number would show a report with only the components of net revenue: gross revenue, discounts, returns and allowances; totalling to the net revenue number. A drill-across would show the P&L report with each of the divisions within the company side-by-side; totaling to the company-wide P&L.
Once the user gets to the lowest level of detail within the BPMS, that’s when the drill-through function is invoked. This normally takes the form of a link back to the original transactional system that the data came from (e.g. the GL system), showing the actual transaction(s) that generated the lowest-level detail entry in the BPMS. This assumes that the user has access to the transactional system and the access required to view the transaction; if they don’t, they would simply get an access denied error message.