Compliance Certent

Management Reporting: 3 Persistent Challenges (and 3 Fixes)

Sponsored by Certent

Management reports drive business decisions – bad reports can lead to bad decisions, but comprehensive reports inform better strategies. Read on for 3 solutions that will set your reporting processes straight and help your team deliver real business value.


Narrative performance reports are critical to successful businesses. From board reports to management flash reports and divisional reports, without real-time information about current business performance, senior management can’t make good decisions. Consequently, finance teams are constantly called upon to provide the latest sales figures, cash flow forecasts, operating expenses, revenue forecasts - and the list goes on. The latest numbers are one thing, but what’s more important to management teams is insight from the data. A finance team that can provide not only the numbers but the story behind the numbers, in the form of narrative-rich reports, is a huge asset to top management. That’s why CXOs are asking their teams for more strategy and less data-mining.

Management presentations and reports are built following a series of complex, manual tasks, usually copying and pasting data (operational, statistical, performance, financial, etc.) and related commentary into disparate Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, then emailing these files to multiple authors in different functional areas throughout the organization for editing and approval. This makes it difficult for report builders, contributors and reviewers to collaborate. And someone is always left to compile all the revisions from cross-functional managers. This can lead to inaccurate, out-of-date reports. The process provides little transparency which can cause management to question the integrity of key internal reports.

There are a few main challenges that finance teams consistently face across all industries and departments.

  1. Data gathering and aggregation is painful. Data lives in a number of different locations, and many times each individual data source is owned and operated by a different department. Too much time is spent on this step of the process, leaving little time for anything else.
  2. Stale, old, and often incorrect data makes its way to management. By the time you compile all the data and layer it into a digestible format, it’s out-of-date. New deals are closing daily, customers are renewing weekly, new business opportunities are opening every day. With static data points, it can be impossible to keep up.
  3. The numbers are misleading without the narrative. The story behind the data contains the details that help drive business decisions, and that data must tie into the narrative. How many times have you made a last-minute change to the data, only to forget to update the narrative (i.e., increase to decrease)? One simple mistake can cast doubt across your entire report – and put your finance team in the hot seat.

Management Reporting: Stop Reinventing the Wheel explores how leading companies are now creating a unified process for automating the production of both external financial reports and internal management and performance reports in a controlled and auditable environment. With the help of report production management solutions, users can create reports that include up-to-the-minute data — including accompanying narrative. These finance teams have been able to:

  1. Free up time for strategic analysis: The more you automate, the more time you can investigate and explain the narrative behind the numbers, making you and your team a more strategic asset within your organization.
  2. Reduce the risk of errors: Automated reporting significantly reduces the risk associated with manual report creation and data entry. When you no longer need to manually distribute templates and collect and reconcile the edits, you see an instant uptick in report quality – increasing management’s confidence in the data presented.
  3. Provide accurate and more informed insight: You can help senior leadership to make better business decisions, faster - helping your organization to enjoy a clear advantage. You may also find you’re rewarded with a regular seat at the management table.

These collaborative systems enable finance and operations teams to provide more accurate and reliable reports to the people who need them, when they need them.

Join us for Reporting Beyond the Numbers: A Better Approach to Producing Internal Narrative Performance Reports on June 21st at 10am PT for a deeper dive into the market trends around narrative performance reporting.