Are Your Reports Useful?
Do they help you make decisions?

Reporting exists to support decision making – because in the end running a business boils down to three very simple things:

  1. Where you want to be ..
  2. Where you are now ..
  3. What to do to next close any gaps ..

1. Where do you want to be is? – the strategy, planning, missions objectives and goals; all these have associated timelines
2. What to do to next close any gaps? –the decisions that need to be made about what to do and when and how to do it
So, critically Useful Reports should provide the:
3. Where you are now?– specific, relevant, information on current status – which can also include analysis and comparisons against where you want to be, projections on where you might be heading from your current spot, and info on where you came from…
It really is that simple….
This week in a blog by Julia Bickerstaff there is a perfect illustration of this a very common complaint.

the other week an enormous package landed on my door. The big bundle was last month’s management report, accounts and “supporting schedules” for a business which, to give you an idea of size, employs about 30 people.

She goes on to explain the issue was exacerbated BY THEIR ACCOUNTANT!!!

When he joined the business he was a little in awe of his predecessor … so when it came to producing management information he was loathe to change any of the reports that his predecessor had created. So he didn’t. He just supplemented the existing reports with lots and lots of extra information….
Periodically members of the management team would ask for project information, or need a quick focus. The accountant ASSUMED this information was for inclusion every reports; the monthly information steadily ballooned to hundreds of pages.

The accountant’s line of thinking was that no-one could ever have too much information BUT the volume of data provided prevented the report from being informative – it became a timewasting confusion of figures.
We have so much data these days, we can chop it, squash it, fiddle it, and fix it without any understanding of the underlying information…

too much noise = no information for making decisions!!!

For every report you receive this month give it the Once-Over by asking these questions:

  • What is this information for?
  • Do we need this information?
  • Why do we need this (which business objective does it focus us on)?

Do you have ideas on how to streamline reports? – share them in the comments


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About the Author

Why own a business post - Eve Blackall Smart Accounting image
Eve Blackall the small business answer to The Supernanny.
At Smart Accounting you work one-on-one with Eve who has already assisted hundreds of business owners increase cash-flow, grow profits, plus ensuring those businesses fetch the highest price when it comes time to sell.[/box]