Business Need

Every size of company from Enterprise Corporations down to Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) need timely and accurate business information.

With 1 in 3 new companies failing in the first 3 years of business and strong national and global competition for your customers time and money, understanding where your business is strong and weak is no longer a luxury, it's a fundamental necessity.

For Mid Market and Enterprise customers who are publicly listed then reporting now goes way beyond just presenting financial information to the internal board. It is now mandatory that listed companies provide information to the IFRS about Segment Reporting, comprising Business Segments and Geographical Segments. Business Segments traditionally mean by product type or service and Geographical Segments to provide a full risk exposure of the company's worldwide trade.

See the PriceWaterhouseCoopers site for more information on Segment Reporting .

Suddenly, reporting systems need to be much more flexible in presenting and analysing information in a raft of different formats.

Formats which are one of the key design criteria behind our A La Carte product suite.

From an internal perspective, Managers must have clear, concise and timely reports that are clearly presented in order to :

  • Manage their business
  • Decide where they invest or cut costs
  • Plan operational, business and sales strategies
  • Understand changing buying patterns and customer attrition reasons
  • Drive profit and business success
  • Make decisions based on hard facts to ensure sustainability

Sounds simple! So why isn't it? Data from Accounting or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems is often “locked” within the software or simply unavailable in a way that can be accessed, digested and actioned by management and business professionals.

Financial and CRM data is therefore often extracted by trained internal or external professionals and then manipulated in spreadsheets to give the desired results for reporting and analysis.

The need to provide excellent reporting as part of an IT strategy is backed up by research of 100 Mid Market FDs from Microsoft .

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Role of an FD

Source : Microsoft Research

The research concludes that 84% of FDs see IT as an important aspect for business growth and 30% of time is taken with Financial Reporting.

However, if data is successfully extracted by IT or Accounting professionals at period end and represented in spreadsheets for financial review, then what's the issue?

There are several fundamental issues that arise in every company doing reporting in this way, all of which are overcome by our A La Carte product suite :

  • Cost – How much time is taken each period by 1-3 people just collating the information?
  • Accuracy – With so much manual manipulation and creation of IT database queries (requiring a detailed understanding of the underlying Accounting or CRM database structures), can you say the final results are truly accurate. Research says you can't!
  • Dependency on key personnel – most company's reporting packs are dependent on 1-2 staff who created the original spreadsheets. Only they know how the spreadsheets work and if there are errors, only they know how to correct them. This is highly dangerous from a dependency perspective as if the key staff are ill or leave your employment, then often you will be faced in starting again.
  • Time taken to deliver formatted reports – even assuming that the data can be extracted in the correct format and with the necessary accuracy, the job of financial reporting is still only half complete. How long does it now take to add formatting of the data e.g double underline against Profit, Bold against Sales etc. Research concludes between 1-7 hours for just a single report.
  • Maintenance – most Financial reporting applications that are hand crafted from extracting information will only work if there are no business changes to the chart of accounts, company structures, departments or cost centres. When these changes inevitably occur, then in most cases each report will need to be amended and methodically checked against the new structures.
  • Errors in spreadsheet formulae – to get the desired final representation of information for the board, most IT savvy accountants use advanced spreadsheet formulae like VLOOKUPs and HLOOKUPs. Whilst powerful, these formulae often result in spreadsheet errors that are difficult to trace and detect. Not good when presenting to the IFRS!

 

Accuracy is a common theme in the issues above. If you believe it couldn't happen to you, then see this catalogue of over 80 company spreadsheet reporting woes.

A La Carte addresses the above issues and provides your organisation with :

  • Instant management reporting at period end. Forget collating data, just focus on analysing your business.
  • Flexible and adaptable reporting
  • Highly formatted “out of the box” reports
  • Accurate and auditable reports. What's in the Accounting or CRM application is what you get in your reports. Guaranteed.
  • Eradication of spreadsheet errors. The database engine does the complex manipulation. There is no need any more for complex spreadsheet formulae

Take a look at the A La carte product section  to see how you can make management reporting simple and cost effective in your organisation or if you would like to arrange a demonstration of our software then please book a demo.

Alternatively, just register your interest and we'll get back to you to discuss your precise requirements.