A recent survey exploring the state of corporate reporting contained an interesting revelation: In the US, 83 percent of respondents agreed that today’s corporate reporting model isn’t suited to an increasingly digital business climate.
The survey didn’t ask respondents to elaborate on why they’re so pessimistic, but it’s easy to infer. With the volume and velocity of data accelerating constantly, along with the importance of leveraging data securely and successfully, traditional financial reporting practices have become woefully inadequate, at least according to the vast majority of executives surveyed.
Much about reporting needs to change and be updated, but all those avenues lead toward one solution: automation. If the goal is to extract more insights from larger data sets in less time and with fewer risks, nothing addresses all those priorities like automated reporting processes. In fact, they’re arguably the only way to transform an ocean of financial data into something digestible and actionable.
With that in mind, use these strategies to lay the groundwork for a fully automated reporting process.
Identify Relevant Data Sets
Since automation can comb through massive data sets in a matter of seconds, there’s no reason to exclude data from the financial reporting process, and that includes non-financial data. Understanding performance depends on reporting on as much data as possible, so begin by identifying relevant data sets within the ERP and across data silos.
Pick Metrics to Track
Automation needs to be told what information to collect, organize, and report. Clear definitions are important, but as with the data sets, ambition is encouraged. Instead of limiting reporting to just a few key performance indicators, expand it to include everything of interest, knowing that automation can keep up with the demands. Just remember that reports are meant to be concise and relevant rather than packed full of as much information as possible.
Choose Roles and Responsibilities
Financial reporting automation makes sense for most, but not all, tasks. For example, humans are better at picking how reports look, what visualizations they include, and who sees the finished product. Decide what parts of the process the F&A team will handle themselves and who will be involved. The goal isn’t actually 100 percent automation, but rather self-service reporting, a process that’s fast and easy enough for anyone to build their own custom reports in minutes.
Select the Right Tool
With all the other steps complete, it’s time to seek out a financial reporting tool that incorporates best-in-class automation. It should be able to meet the requirements you’ve identified above (work across data sets, track myriad metrics, etc.) without being too technical to use. More importantly, it should offer a complete financial reporting solution that goes above and beyond automation. Optimizing reporting in terms of both efficiency and effectiveness takes more than just automation, so that should be just one of many highlights offered by whatever product you choose to implement.
As you arrive at the last step, acquaint yourself with insightsoftware. We have developed a suite of purpose-built financial reporting tools for the next era of business. Each one uses automation to help you transform the reporting process and get maximum value from your financial data. Make your efforts better and your life easier by downloading the whitepaper entitled “A Finance Leader’s Guide to Taking a Vacation” today.