Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

How to Revolutionize Your Reporting

Guest Author

By Steve Cox, Vice President, ERP and EPM Cloud Business Group, Oracle

You are a fast growing business – are you happy with your reports?  More importantly, are your owners, backers and investors happy with them? Are they quick and easy to create, visually compelling and always 100% accurate?

To inspire investor confidence, new business, high growth stars and SMBs need business reports that are transparent, compliant, and easy to understand. Unfortunately, many SMBs are held back by manual reporting processes that are error-prone, don’t tell a complete picture and are sometimes too visually complex for stakeholders to grasp key implications.

Sadly, traditional reporting solutions can be a menagerie of spreadsheets and software from multiple providers with disparate integrations, complex execution, and loose data alignment. The equation is simply too much data + too much complexity + too many solutions = chaotic communication. At the end of the day (actually, it’s more like the end of the month), the math generates too little trust. And with the introduction of new compliance requirements like revenue recognition and country by country reporting, the picture will continue to get more complicated for SMBs with ambitions to expand into new markets or regions.

It’s time for a reporting revolution.

5 Steps to Revolutionize Your Reports

How does a small to medium business embrace the “reporting revolution”? Take these five steps to start your journey for a new reporting experience:

1. Analyze Your Current Reporting

Start with a complete assessment and inventory. The volume might seem overwhelming, but there are principles that you can use to simplify all this complexity. Nearly all business reports fall into one of three categories:

  1. Operational reporting
  2. Finance and regulatory reporting
  3. Management reporting

Your reporting revolution starts by putting your reports into these buckets. Examine the processes and systems that underpin each, and then move onto Step 2: standardizing your reporting approach across all three categories.

2. Standardize Your Reporting with Modern Best Practice

Think of reporting as an integral part of your business processes, not as a secondary and disconnected afterthought. With Modern Best Practice, companies get reporting that is relevant, complete, and built into the underlying technology along every step of the process.

For example, consider period close to financial reporting. Following a published best practice is an ideal way to implement, verify, and improve your own process. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel, when you can take advantage of the thousands of hours of work represented and available in today’s Modern Best Practice.

3. Engage a Team that Understands the Reporting Revolution

Identify a solution provider and business partner that fully understands and appreciates the importance of reporting and analytics. To fully take advantage of this revolution, end-to-end solutions from a single cloud provider with global experience are critical.

You can no longer rely on a multitude of vendors delivering single or limited-purpose solutions to meet your needs. Vendors must meet all of your reporting needs and deliver the solutions for collecting and managing your data with a broad perspective. It must be integrated and comprehensive, ready to go on Day 1.

4. Deploy Modern Cloud Technologies for Reporting

Visualation rules! The cloud is already powering thousands of companies of all sizes—from start-ups to global enterprises. Learn more about the extensive benefits the cloud offers your company (and your career) as you establish your organization and yourself as a digital leader.

Leverage a solution built on the cloud and deployed with 21st-century tools that embrace digital business—including emerging technologies such as adaptive intelligence, machine learning and blockchain—with embedded dashboard and reports tailored to each individual’s role in the company and easy-to-read, quick-to-produce reporting for every stakeholder and executive.

5. Embrace Integrated and Comprehensive Reporting Solutions

With a broad cloud infrastructure from a global solutions provider, you’ll be able to deploy and connect configurable and compelling reports to your applications across every part of the business. The result is a modern environment built upon a common data model that responds in real-time; not a bolt-on afterthought or future phase project that lingers with data mapping mistakes and painful data extractions.

Why Join the Reporting Revolution?

Practically, what does the reporting revolution mean to your company, and specifically to the roles of CFOs and other finance managers?

On its surface, the revolution might seem more appealing to your tech team (fewer integrations and systems translate to significantly less work) but it offers much more for financial professionals.

Consider how the reporting revolution frees you from the pitfalls and errors of manual spreadsheets and the manual effort of reconciling data. It also helps you stay current with new standards and requirements across the globe, which continue to evolve at a dizzying pace regardless of geography.

But perhaps best of all, the reporting revolution gives finance professionals a peace of mind only possible when you are confident that your reports and analysis are accurate, complete, and timely. Inherently, you trust your reports.

With the right team and a modern approach, you will transform your reporting from just a requirement to a critical business asset—one that will help inspire investor confidence and guide you towards future growth.

Learn what’s keeping SMB finance leaders awake at night. Read the Inc. report.


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