Preparing reports for your constituents — whether it be your board of directors or department heads — is a high-pressure exercise.
You’re always working under a deadline, with no room for error, yet you want to give your stakeholders the complete picture. The goal is not simply to inform but to demonstrate actionable insight into how the organization can better run operations.
To demonstrate value, reports must contain timely and accurate data. However, many organizations still rely on spreadsheet-based, manual reporting systems that require Finance to compile and reconcile information from too many sources. This lengthy reporting process spends time and money while introducing certain human error. Amidst this chaos, you’re not only looking for immediate value for the organization but also immediate value from Finance’s labor-intensive activities amassing that ocean of data.
A modern financial system, on the other hand, addresses both value deficits. It simplifies your reporting process while providing richer access to information. This saves your organization time and money and ensures the continuous provision of up-to-date, accurate information exactly as stakeholders need it.
4 steps to more efficient financial reporting
Below are the four core tenets of modern financial reporting software designed to improve the accuracy of your reports while shaving days (and sometimes weeks) off of your reporting and financial close processes:
1. A single data source
Move away from siloed spreadsheets and integrate your business data into a modern solution. A single source of data eliminates the need for time-consuming handoffs and dramatically improves data accuracy. Data accuracy improves the integrity of what is reported and builds the trust of leadership across the organization. When trust in the data builds, swifter actions are possible and ensuing results are more quickly realized.
2. Automated reporting
Embrace repeatable, push-button processes to update periodic reports. It’s possible and doesn’t require enormous macros that only one individual understands. Design reporting process automation with constituents so everyone knows exactly what they are responsible for and when their task(s) should be completed. Establish these partnerships with business leaders throughout the development cycle, and their buy-in to the new process becomes much easier.
Modern financial systems coupled with business partnerships enable automated distributed accountability (versus manually distributed spreadsheets), giving specific contributors and consumers responsibility for inputting, updating or acting on information. With this approach, everyone is responsible for the business data instead of one or two analysts struggling with integrating multiple sources of information.
3. Secure access
Accept that spreadsheets are inherently insecure. The contents are visible to any user and too easily emailed or uploaded to personal accounts. Modern financial systems provide gated rights, only exposing users to the data they’re authorized to view. These same security features enable audit trails, targeted on-boarding of new stakeholders and heavily secured 24x7 access through any modern browser — increasing directed accountability and portability while decreasing risk.
4. Reporting flexibility
Equip users with self-service tools that allow them to customize output and drill through for more information. These tools give your business users the flexibility to consume information most meaningful to them. Enablement happens quickly for these self-reliant users, as most can be trained in less than an hour. Subsequently, with this enablement, Finance shifts its focus from guessing which financial reports fit consumers best to embracing higher-level analytics. These higher-level analytics, such as predictive analytics and operational modeling, will increase the organization’s understanding of results but more importantly will provide insight into potential future outcomes.
From spreadsheets to modern financial systems
Spreadsheets are a great tool for small businesses. But as your business grows in complexity, spreadsheets can no longer handle the in-depth reporting necessary for informed decision making.
Sooner or later, reporting becomes an albatross while Finance labors to reconcile multiple data sources and track down information. Unavoidably, reporting is an on-going demand happening again and again, month after month, quarter after quarter. It’s manual. It’s repetitive. It’s a nagging process that often steals time from value-add opportunities.
A unified financial system automates reporting, allowing you to provide business leaders with accurate, timely information. It frees up your financial team to spend more meaningful time assisting other departments as a true business partner and analyst.
Contact us to learn more about modern, cloud-based financial systems. Wipfli specializes in multiple business intelligence, ERP and financial solutions. Let us help you analyze which tool is right for your business.
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