Improve your reporting in 5 steps

By Edgar de Wit - 8 Jan 2021author


Lots of people are struggling to produce their reporting on time every month. Multiple deadlines, last-minute changes, data that arrives late etc. All the time goes into producing the reports, and little time is left to analyze the numbers.


Here are 5 steps to help you improve your reporting:

Identify what drives your business

People often loose track of what really matters, and get caught up in too much detail. Good reports should inform your management and stakeholders about the state of business, with the key indicators, and help them to make decisions.

Remember: focus on what matters, ignore what is trivial.

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Create good classification

Many people end up with complicated reporting models, because their classification of data (for example the Chart of Accounts) is not structured properly. Too many levels of detail, too few, inconsistent grouping of data etc.

It is the wrong place and the wrong time trying to correct that every time you are need to produce your reports. You need to get the basis right and information will flow much better. It will save you time and improve quality.

Identify your dimensions

Many companies have multiple "dimensions" in their business, such as: product groups, countries, locations, divisions, departments etc. It is difficult to manage the business if you can't report numbers for each of these dimensions.

Dimensions are needed to see your company results in perspective and be able to answer any business questions from different angles.

If your business has multiple dimensions or data sources, make sure there is good process and consistent classifications across all sources, so that your data collection is consistent and predictable. Avoid having to repeatedly correct or amend data manually.

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Review your booking processes

Review your booking processes and ensure coding rules are clearly agreed and documented. Similar to poor Chart of Accounts, you should avoid having to correct inconsistent coding at month-end. It is simply not good use of your time, it is error-prone, and you will always be running behind the facts.

Focus on the essence

Always start simple, only add complexity when it is absolutely vital.

Ensure that you focus on the essentials in your business, and don't waste time on items that have little relevance.

Conclusion

If you keep these 5 steps in mind, and rigorously implement them, you will greatly improve your reporting processes, and you will be able to produce your reports quicker and more reliably.

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