As companies grapple with economic shutdowns, plummeting revenues, market instability, and economic uncertainty now and into the foreseeable future, they need financial insights more than ever before. Reporting has always been necessary, but now it’s paramount.
With so much unknown, companies must make every decision with a careful understanding of their recent financial performance and current fiscal health. Acting without this information in the most comprehensive and current form possible exposes the accounting department (and by extension the company as a whole) to the risk of preventable mistakes and misunderstandings at a moment that demands perfection. Companies are questioning what to do next. The answer, in all cases, starts and stops with financial reporting, but not in the conventional sense.
Too often, financial reporting involves multiple accountants putting in hours or days of manual work to produce a document based on lagging data. It’s an imperfect process in normal circumstances, and it only gets more challenging when teams work remotely. Not to mention the fact that when remote reporting does work, it often moves too slowly to suit the dynamic conditions businesses face in a crisis. Accountants need an alternative approach to reporting as much as they need the reports themselves.
Self-service reporting looks like the obvious solution. When accountants can build and run regular and ad hoc reports themselves without needing IT, they can get the insights they need as quickly as they need them. Think of it as on-demand reporting, where financial insights are a resource to access as necessary rather than the end-product of a long, complicated process. It’s exactly the kind of capability companies need to move forward with any measure of clarity and confidence. Fortunately, facilitating self-service reporting isn’t as difficult as it seems, even with remote staff.
Standing Up Self-Service Reporting
Every accounting department handles financial reporting differently depending on its metrics, strategy, or audience. Making the process easy enough for users to conduct on their own from a remote location takes two components:
- Automation – Traditional reporting processes take so much work to build because collecting, organizing, and analyzing the underlying data all happen manually. Automating these processes speeds up report creation and makes it easy enough for anyone to conduct themselves. The term “self-service reporting” best describes a reporting process that mostly happens on autopilot, where users ask for information and automation handles the rest. It handles it so quickly, in fact, that the term “real-time reporting” also applies.
- Distribution – Self-service reporting strives to get the best information into the right hands as soon as it’s relevant. With the office working remotely, that means a lot of information moving quickly between sources and collaborators. That information needs to travel seamlessly and securely, and arrive in a format that’s digestible and actionable to any recipient. Self-service reporting may be an individualistic exercise, but it’s part of how the organization collaboratively makes decisions and collectively understands performance.
With so much going on, including a frantic process of report creation, the idea of transforming a core accounting responsibility in the middle of a pandemic might sound outlandish—until you learn about tools from insightsoftware. Engineered to interface with all the leading ERPs, they offer the kind of automation and distribution outlined above in the process of making self-service reporting a reality. Ensure business continuity during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.