Top 10 Tips for Improving your Reporting Process

March 26, 2019
By Thomas van Hellemondt
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Thomas van Hellemondt

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Any business, large or small, needs to understand how it’s performing. Most do so by continuously assessing and reporting their set targets and making adjustments where necessary. What if you could minimize the repetitive, non-value-added work extracting the data? That would save time.

What if you could get rid of error-prone approaches to one of the most important aspects of your close? That would minimize risk.

Check out our top 10 tips for improving your reporting process.

Top 10 Best Practice Reporting Tips

  1. Single Point of Truth – Unlike many BI reports, the most important requirement for finance is to have one version of the truth when viewing financial report packs. This avoids endless discussions on versions and definitions.
  2. Make Reports Accessible – One struggle when using BI tools is searching for a report pack stored in the wrong folder. Store report packs centrally to make them accessible for users with controlled security clearance.
  3. Automate the Process – Like any repeatable process, there are cost-saving opportunities through automation of the report pack process, including commentary collection, the distribution of the report packs, and the removal of printed report packs.
  4. Differentiate the Reports – Different audiences require different information. In addition, reports should be shared on a need-to-know basis to protect confidentiality. Use a security control protocol for who can see a central report pack.
  5. Less is More – Research identifies that world-class companies use 50 percent fewer report dashboards and packs compared to the average enterprise, specifically when switching from a paper-based report pack process to a niche financial reporting solution.
  6. Avoid Data Leakage – Sending Excel spreadsheets and sharing slide decks on paper across the organization has a high risk of data leakage.
  7. Digital Controlled Process – Perceive the reporting process as a workflow process, in which clarity, standardization, and governance are the essential ingredients.
  8. Accountability – Reporting is about accountability. Each user has a role and responsibility to contribute. Make sure all roles and responsibilities in your reporting process are clear.
  9. Actionable – Reporting on a variance is of limited value without context. Only humans can add this context via comments and come up with an agreed action to improve on performance for the next period.
  10.  Be Transparent – Modern organizations are transparent about their performance to their stakeholders. This transparency will lead to more ownership and engagement.

More than ever, organizations need to enable their financial and performance reporting teams to offer timely assessments, accurate forecasts, and strategic, actionable insights. But to achieve this, they need to put the right foundations in place by optimizing processes, people, and technology.

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