It might not be as appealing as marketing and sales, but reporting is just as important for businesses that are looking to increase profitability and continue to grow. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t know where to start.
The Importance of Management Reporting
Management reporting has undergone significant changes over the years. It’s evolved in such a way that modern management reporting is hardly recognizable when compared to what business leaders were doing in the early 1990s.
Whereas the old method of management reporting involved developing reports that were specific to individual issues – typically finance – and disseminating them to the correct people at regular intervals (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.), the new method of management reporting is all about organizing the abundance of available data in one place where it can be accessed in real time.
“Companies today realize they need a solution that will allow the various owners of information to input updated and accurate data into a central source,” industry insider Ted Jackson writes. “The data owners may be in human resources, accounting, operations, sales, or a number of other departments. From there, the appropriate groups can perform calculations across this data to generate new summary data that is always available—and most importantly, always accurate.”
In order for data reporting to work, there has to be a system in place that instills trust. Otherwise, it’s impossible for these reports to generate tangible actions on the back end.
How to Maximize the Value of Your Report
It’s not enough to collect data. If you want your business to be proactive and engaged in what’s happening, you must find a way to generate meaningful management reports that arm the right people with the correct insights. In light of this, here’s how you can maximize the value of your reports:
Choose the Right Reporting Tools
In 2019 and beyond, there’s no sense in approaching management reporting with a manual approach. There’s an array of reporting tools that your business can use to generate more effective reports with less effort and minimal issues. The challenge is choosing the correct one.
According to this blog post – a leader in the business intelligence space – it’s all about finding a tool that lets you tell a compelling story. It should allow you to gather the right KPIs, consolidate them into visually pleasing reports, and then deliver them with ease to the people who need the insights to make important decisions.
Gather and Measure Correct Information
It doesn’t matter how much data you have available to you if you aren’t measuring the right information and producing the correct insights.
“All the dashboards, spreadsheets and reports imaginable won’t move the business one step closer to its objectives unless the measurement system encourages behavior that adds value,” The Wall Street Journal explains. “When KPIs are wrong or missing, meetings to solve big problems end in requests for more information; analysts spend dozens of hours preparing reports for the next iteration, only to find that the ground once again shifts beneath their feet.
When setting KPIs, involve a key decision-makers from every department of the business. Ideally, CEO, CFO, CMO, and CIO should all have a say in what information is being measured so that everyone is on the same page.
Structure Reports Properly
The structure of the report is far more important than most businesses assume. People have finite attention spans and will – almost without exception – consume information in the exact order you present it. Thus the most significant insights should be presented first, followed by secondary information, tertiary information, etc.
Ensure Appropriate Follow-Up
Management reporting shouldn’t stop with the delivery of data. In order for these reports to instigate positive change, there needs to be an appropriate amount of follow up on the back end. It’s also important to listen to the people on the receiving end and to optimize according to their feedback and suggestions.
Push Your Business Forward
The days of going through the motions and delivering siloed, compartmentalized management reports are gone. In today’s fluid business world, you need access to real-time data that can be leveraged across multiple areas of your business – including human resources, sales, accounting, marketing, and operations.
With the right management reporting strategy, you can make this happen.