This article will discuss the process of preparing for a successful financial reporting implementation.
In the modern business realm, you cannot avoid financial reporting. Whether it is a homegrown Excel process, a legacy software program, an independent software vendor (ISV), or a native enterprise resource planning (ERP) report writer, every company is doing it. Investing in your first modern reporting tool typically means automated financial statements, accessible collaboration, modern security, and self-service analytics. Don’t worry if it sounds like gibberish to you. In this article, we will discuss preparing for your first reporting implementation so you are able to select the best reporting tool to navigate your organization in managing and analyzing data.
Financial report writers empower companies to create custom reports that present a summary of your general ledger transactional data, whether you are reporting directly from your ERP system, and/or from a data warehouse (DW) or an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube. Reporting tools collect and present data so that it can be analyzed. Reporting is the necessary prerequisite of analysis. Reporting makes data understandable and ready for accurate, easy and efficient analysis. LogiAnalytics defines reporting as “the art of collecting data from various data sources and presenting it to end-users in a way that is understandable and ready to be analyzed. In the second sense, reporting means presenting data and information…as well as [acting] on it.” When investing in reporting tools to improve data management and analysis processes, it is crucial to explore your choices when it comes to ease of use, integration methods and platforms.
Here are four tips while preparing for your first reporting implementation:
1) Start with the end. Ask yourself, “What type of data do you want your end users to see in their reports?” This will help you come up with short-term goals for your big goals.
2) Get help. Find a financial reporting expert. If that means hiring someone to be a part of your team or using external consultants, then do the work of creating a plan for that.
3) Create a project plan. Determine if there is anything that could be a hindrance to the implementation process. Start by setting hard deadlines and plan out your project and address it from every context possible. Strategically planning your project will help your organization focus on your goals and ensure your reporting solution is efficient and effective.
4) Be excited! Choose a reporting tool that will get you as well as your executives and end users excited! Explain to your team why it is worth investing in a reporting tool and how their jobs will be easier once the reporting software is implemented.
Consider the platform when investing in a reporting solution. Modern third party reporting tools vary from Excel-based, web-based, cloud-based, proprietary, or a combination. Excel will always be embraced, which is why there are Excel-based platforms and Excel add-in software, but there are other options as well. In the technology world, the web and the cloud seem to be unstoppable because these platforms are constantly evolving. Web-based financial reporting has proven to be revolutionary in terms of managing and analyzing data due to the accessibility from connecting to the internet from anywhere. Companies also have pure Cloud products, which means they are hosted on the web by a third party such as Amazon or Microsoft, usually require a BI data store, and are typically not powered by Excel. If you are looking for a tool with familiar features and formulas as well as a browser-based interface, there are few self-service hybrid tools that are both web-based and Excel-powered. You and your organization should also look into proprietary solutions.
Some third party manufacturers argue that Microsoft Excel is inconvenient when it comes to linking spreadsheets and collaborating on financial statements as well as both departmental and organization budgeting. These ISVs typically offer their own proprietary BI software that are powerful, but require your company to learn unique formulas and formatting outside of Excel. Depending on what company goals you need to achieve as well as the complexity of the software, it might not be worth your time investment. If the solution serves your reporting needs, it might be the right product for you. You can also combine several solutions and platforms. For instance, you can have reporting solutions that are proprietary as well as cloud-based, and have a budgeting solution that you can access and manage from Excel and the web. You will definitely want to do your own further research to figure out what will assist your company achieve specific goals.
When looking to invest in your first reporting solution, consider these things: business user friendliness, flexibility to design the reports you need without manual manipulation every month, collaboration, and security. Modern financial reporting tools should be user friendly so that it is easy for you and your team to achieve your organizational goals and not waste any time. Similarly, you should be investing in a solution that enables you to securely collaborate on analytics. We are at a point in the technology world where products and solutions should be meeting consumer needs for secure collaboration whether you choose to go with an Excel, Web, Cloud, and/or proprietary interface. Solver offers Excel and web-based reporting as a stand-alone module or as part of the comprehensive suite of BI360 modules and would be happy to answer questions and review BI360’s easy-to-use solution for collaborative, streamlined decision-making.