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How much information is too much? Rethinking the reporting book

  • , Financial Close Architect

We've all been there waiting at the copy machine and it runs out of toner or produces the dreaded "Error" message... and why is the stapler always out of staples? Is it worth it? Is anyone even looking at the blue book, the grey book, the big red book with 50 pages in each?

It takes days to produces these reports, leaving little time to check the data let alone do in-depth analysis. Do these reams of paper provide information to make decisions for the future or are they a stale look at the past? Are our business analysts providing the C-suite key relevant data? Or does it represent a viewpoint of the C-suite members of the 90's or 10 years ago?

When your organization is considering a new financial reporting solution, it is time to rethink your reporting.

Is it timely?

Have all required entries been captured in subsystems and reconciled to the general ledger? Have all accruals been booked according to updated financial standards? Are intercompany eliminations reconciled and adjustments booked?

Consider adding a corporate accounting standards and procedures document on a shared drive or adding account reconciliation or task manager to gain better control over the close.

Is it relevant?

Reporting results in multiple currencies is often desired depending on whether the data is being reviewed at a local, regional or corporate level. Customize reports for each user instead of printing out all currencies in a book.

What are the key metrics used by each reporting level? Is a high-level dashboard with drill-down capability from a mobile device or a multi-tab workbook with a ratio/metrics, net earnings and balance sheet a better option?

Has the business model, industry or strategic focus changed? Do the current reports and metadata support the old or new way? Are there new reporting standards looming that need to be addressed and put into place?

Is it true and accurate?

Is the source of data manipulated or hand keyed? Consider data integration to get data directly from the source. Rationalize and socialize key metrics to ensure users are making decisions based on the same criteria. Consider publishing the formula and data source in the same repository as accounting standards.

The design and requirements phase is a good time to rethink your reporting package.

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