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There is a reason Microsoft Excel, among its many merits, is generally recognized as the world’s most popular reporting tool. Three of the top reasons are:

  • It is easy
  • It is familiar to most business users
  • It is “free” (if you already own an Excel license)

However, Excel also has many downsides, especially when it comes to reporting on financial data…

  • Poor user security
  • No database to manage large amounts of data
  • Not truly a multi-user cloud tool built for reporting
  • Models get complex and hard to maintain

This love/hate relationship with Excel and the typical one (to several) days of training that most professional financial report writers require are two of the key reasons that companies increasingly ask ERP and reporting software vendors this question: “How easy is it to learn how to write reports?”

Of course, complex, formatted reports like Cash Flow Statements and certain other financial report layouts will likely always take a certain training and skill level to produce in most reporting tools. In other words, there does not seem to be one solution that offers the best of all worlds when it comes to reporting.

The Difference Between Financial Report Writers and Ad Hoc Reporting Tools

If all power users and end users of reports had time to learn a new reporting technology and there was enough time to design reports whenever they needed to answer various business questions, then the world would be fine with classic report writers. These have a lot of flexibility, financial functions, and strong formatting to deliver presentation-quality reports. However, most of the time, a user just needs to check some data or quickly answer a question. Examples of such questions are:

  • How can I see an account-by-account report with all key GL fields and a balance check?
  • What is the balance on account 4510 for each month so far this year?
  • How much did Lisa sell in May?

With full-fledged report writers, any of the above would typically require knowledge of the source fields, training on the reporting tool, and possibly several hours of report design work. With modern ad hoc reporting tools like Solver’s Ad Hoc Reporting, any user that has been provided access to the data can build reports in a few minutes and with minimal skills. They can also save their reports for reuse next time they or their peers have a similar business question. In other words, ad hoc reporting tools are perfectly complementary to full-blown report writers, with each one serving different needs.

Ad hoc vs formatted report writers

 

How do I give my end users both advanced formatted reports and let them build their own?

Certain corporate performance management (CPM) vendors like Solver handle this by giving the user three options for their reporting needs:

  • Any user: Use Ad Hoc Reporting to design reports and answer questions on the fly
  • Any user (no training): Pre-built report, budget and dashboard templates downloaded from a Marketplace
  • Power user: Excel-based report designer with multi-tenant cloud architecture

In other words, professional, presentation-quality reports built by power users go hand-in-hand with ad hoc reports that any end users can design whenever they have questions they need answered.

How Can Ad Hoc Reporting Also Help When You Migrate to a New ERP?

As large numbers of companies plan to migrate, or have migrated, their legacy accounting solutions from on-premises servers to the cloud, they not only have to review core ERP functionality to make sure it meets their current and future needs, they also have to review the tools they will use for reporting, planning, and analysis. Usually, native ERP report writers are not great at either ad hoc reports or professional formatted reports, and customers therefore do one of two things:

  • Export data to Excel and take care of any needed reporting in manual spreadsheets. This has both the benefits and the limitations discussed at the beginning of this blog.
  • Purchase a best-of-breed reporting and/or CPM solution. This category includes cloud vendors like Solver with scalable platforms that offer both ad hoc reporting and formatted reporting, plus consolidations, budgeting, forecasting, and integrated Power BI dashboards.

A side benefit of good ad hoc reporting tools is that they can be a strong help for ERP implementation users to create reports on the fly as a check for the data they are loading into the new ERP system. This will also give them a flying start to get basic reports up and running while power users design fully formatted financial and operational reports.

How Much Training Will It Take to Learn Ad Hoc Reporting?

If it takes more than 10-15 minutes of video-based training to learn an ad hoc reporting tool, it should probably not be called ad hoc reporting. One of the key value-adds of this kind of user experience is that pretty much any user with any background should be able to quickly learn the tool, so they can benefit from almost-immediate answers to their data questions.

Because it should be a low training threshold and quick time to value for each user, any of these three types of training categories should do the trick:

  • Learn from trial and error
  • Learn from videos
  • Learn from a peer

Either way, a good ad hoc reporting tool should have a high return on investment for a company because it will require minimal training, and users can get their questions answered near real time and without having to ask for help from their accounting staff or report writer super users.

Summary

As reporting technologies evolve, we will likely see most modern cloud vendors offer both professional formatted reporting as well as ad hoc reporting, and therefore limit the need for users to export data to manual Excel files to get their business questions answered. In the 2020s and post-COVID work-from-home era, companies that enable their users to make faster and better decisions will be at a strong competitive advantage.

Example of a Consolidated Statement of Income Call Report

What is a Consolidated Statement of Income Call Report?

The Consolidated Statement of Income is considered a Call Report and is used by accountants and compliance managers to submit quarterly data as per Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) requirements. Some of the main functionality in this type of regulatory report is that it can both be used as an input form and as a formatted report ready to submit to OCC. Any data that can be imported from the ERP system or other database will automatically be pulled into the form without having to be re-entered. Only the top portion of the form is visible in the screenshot. You find an example of this type of regulatory report below.

Purpose of Consolidated Statement of Income Call Report Templates

Banks use Call Report Templates to automate the input and and submission process to OCC. Because this type of template is in a cloud-based reporting system, users can log-in and work on the report from anywhere. When used as part of good business practices in Accounting- and Compliance departments, a bank can improve its processes and save labor costs, and it can reduce the chances that data entry mistakes occur.

Example of a Consolidated Statement of Income Call Report Template

Here is an example of a OCC Call Report with quarterly Consolidated Statement of Income data.

Example of a Consolidated Statement of Income Call Report

Example of a Consolidated Statement of Income Call Report

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Regulatory Report?

The typical users of this type of regulatory report are: Accountants, compliance managers, CFOs.

Other Reports Often Used in Conjunction with Form 5300 Call Report Templates

Progressive Accounting- and Compliance departments sometimes use OCC call reports supported by internal income statements, balance sheets, cash flow reports, trial balances, transaction detail reports and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data typically comes from bank systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of a Top Ten Customers by Profitability Report for banks

What is a Top Ten Customers by Profitability Report for Banks?

Top Customer by Profitability Reports are considered customer ranking reports and are used by managers and account executives to get a snapshot of the top most profitable customer by branch. Some of the main functionality in this type of report is that it groups and ranks the top 10 customers by branch location. The columns include: Average account balance, Total revenue, Total expense, and Net profit. The color indicators help the user quickly see important metrics. You find an example of this type of report below.

Purpose of Top Customers by Profitability Reports

Banks use Top Customers by Profitability Reports to at any time be able to identify their most important customers at the branch level and overall. When used as part of good business practices in Executive- and Account Management departments, a bank can improve its customer retention strategies, and it can reduce the chances that top customers are not getting the optimal nurturing.

Example of a Top Customers by Profitability Report

Here is an example of a Top Ten Customer Report that ranks each customer based on profitability and groups them by branch.

Example of a Top Ten Customers by Profitability Report for banks

Example of a Top Ten Customers by Profitability Report for banks

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Report?

The typical users of this type of report are: Account executives, production managers, branch managers, analysts.

Other Reports Often Used in Conjunction with Top Customers by Profitability Reports

Progressive Executive- and Account Management departments sometimes use several different Top Customers Reports, along with detailed customer transaction reports, financial statements, annual budgets, KPI dashboards, customer dashboards and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data typically comes from bank systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of a New Customer Acquisition Report for Banks

What is a New Customer Acquisition Report for Banks?

New Customer Acquisition Reports are considered growth and profitability analysis tools and are used by sales managers and leaders to monitor new customer growth and profitability metrics. Some of the main functionality in this type of report is that it shows new customer KPIs for any given month and branch. The rows list new customers and key columns include detail and totals for: Average product balance, Net interest amount, Monthly cost, SFAS cost and Net profit. You find an example of this type of report below.

Purpose of New Customer Acquisition Reports

Banks use New Customer Acquisition Reports to easily analyze the quantity of new customers a branch has acquired and the level of profitability associated with each customer and in total. When used as part of good business practices in Production- and Account Management departments, a bank can improve its revenue growth strategies, and it can reduce the chances that unprofitable tactics are not quickly addressed.

Example of a New Customer Acquisition Report

Here is an example of a New Customer Acquisition Report with a detailed listing of new customers for any given month as well as related KPIs.

Example of a New Customer Acquisition Report for Banks

Example of a New Customer Acquisition Report for Banks

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Report?

The typical users of this type of report are: Account executives, production managers, branch managers, analysts.

Other Reports Often Used in Conjunction with New Customer Acquisition Reports

Progressive Production- and Account Management departments sometimes use several different New Customer Acquisition Reports, along with financial statements, annual budgets, sales forecasts, KPI dashboards, customer dashboards and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data typically comes from bank systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of a Term Deposit Profitability Trend Report for Banks

What is a Term Deposit Profitability Trend Report for Banks?

Term Deposit Profitability Trend Reports are considered operational reports and are used by executives and managers to analyze monthly trends in term deposit metrics. Some of the main functionality in this type of report is that it dynamically lists the months of the year across the columns and loan metrics down the rows with a Gross Profit total at the bottom. Some of the key rows include: Portfolio average balance, Deposit production, Nbr origination, Average size, FTP Income, Interest Expense, Net Interest Margin, Average First Year NIM, Average Doc Prep Fee, Average Origination Cost, FTP Income, Interest Expense, Net Interest Margin, Servicing Costs, Teller costs, Online costs, Total expenses, and Gross Profit. The green, yellow and red exception colors help highlight months with high/low profitability. You find an example of this type of report below.

Purpose of Term Deposit Profitability Trend Reports

Banks use Term Deposit Profitability Trend Reports to give leaders an easily understandable format to analyze monthly trends in term deposit revenues, expenses and profitability. When used as part of good business practices in Production- and Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) departments, a bank can improve its net profit and related term deposit strategies, and it can reduce the chances that major exceptions or trends are not quickly discovered.

Example of a Term Deposit Profitability Trend Report

Here is an example of a Term Deposit Profitability Report with monthly trends in term deposit metrics and profitability.

Example of a Term Deposit Profitability Trend Report for Banks

Example of a Term Deposit Profitability Trend Report for Banks

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Report?

The typical users of this type of report are: Executives, branch managers, finance leaders, loan managers, production managers.

Other Reports Often Used in Conjunction with Term Deposit Profitability Trend Reports

Progressive Production- and Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) departments sometimes use several different Term Deposit Profitability Reports, along with detailed term deposit reports, term deposit portfolio dashboards, KPI dashboards, branch benchmarking reports, annual budgets, profit & loss trend reports, balance sheets and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data typically comes from deposit management systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of a Loan Profitability Trend Report for Banks

What is a Loan Profitability Trend Report for Banks?

Loan Profitability Trend Reports are considered operational reports and are used by executives and loan managers to analyze monthly trends in loan KPIs. Some of the main functionality in this type of report is that it dynamically lists the months of the year across the columns and loan metrics down the rows with a Gross Profit total at the bottom. Some of the key rows include: Portfolio average balance, Loan production, Nbr origination, Average size, Interest rate, FTP Expense, Net interest margin, Total Revenues, Origination costs, Servicing costs, Teller costs, Online costs, Total expenses, and Gross Profit. The green, yellow and red exception colors help highlight months with high/low profitability. You find an example of this type of report below.

Purpose of Loan Profitability Trend Reports

Banks use Loan Profitability Trend Reports to give leaders an easily understandable format to analyze monthly trends in loan revenues, expenses and profitability. When used as part of good business practices in Loan- and Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) departments, a bank can improve its net profit and related loan strategies, and it can reduce the chances that major exceptions or trends are not quickly discovered.

Example of a Loan Profitability Trend Report

Here is an example of a Loan Profitability Report with monthly trends in loan metrics and profitability.

Example of a Loan Profitability Trend Report for Banks

Example of a Loan Profitability Trend Report for Banks

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Report?

The typical users of this type of report are: Executives, branch managers, finance leaders, loan managers.

Other Reports Often Used in Conjunction with Loan Profitability Trend Reports

Progressive Loan- and Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) departments sometimes use several different Loan Profitability Reports, along with detailed loan reports, loan portfolio dashboards, KPI dashboards, branch benchmarking reports, annual budgets, profit & loss trend reports, balance sheets and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data typically comes from loan management systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of a Balance Sheet Report for Bank Branches

What is a Balance Sheet Report for Bank Branches?

Branch-level Balance Sheets are considered essential month-end reports and are used by corporate executives and branch managers to track actual balances and variances for assets, liabilities and equity figures. Some of the main functionality in this type of report is that it enables the user to run them for any month and any bank branch, including at the consolidated level. The columns compares the current month to the same period last year as well as to the budget, and it calculates the variances and enables drill-down to detail. You find an example of this type of report below.

Purpose of Branch-level Balance Sheets

Banks use Branch-level Balance Sheets to enable variance analysis for branch-level balance sheet metrics. When used as part of good business practices in Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) departments, a bank can improve its fiscal- and strategic decisions, and it can reduce the chances that managers don’t quickly discover major variances and the reasons behind them.

Example of a Branch-level Balance Sheet

Here is an example of a Branch-level Income Statement Report with prior year and budget variances.

Example of a Balance Sheet Report for Bank Branches

Example of a Balance Sheet Report for Bank Branches

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Report?

The typical users of this type of report are: Executives, branch managers, finance leader.

Other Reports Often Used in Conjunction with Branch-level Balance Sheets

Progressive Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) departments sometimes use several different Branch-level Balance Sheets, along with income statements, consolidated balance sheets, cash flow statements, trended financial statements, KPI reports, executive dashboards, budget models and forecasts and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data typically comes from enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of an Income Statement Report for bank branches

What is a Income Statement Report for Bank Branches?

Branch-level Income Statements are considered essential month-end reports and are used by corporate executives and branch managers to track revenues, expenses and profitability. Some of the main functionality in this type of report is that it enables the user to run them for any month and any bank branch, including at the consolidated level. The columns compare the current month to the same period last year as well as to the budget, and it calculates the variances. You find an example of this type of report below.

Purpose of Branch-level Income Statements

Banks use Branch-level Income Statements to enable self-service analysis of the monthly performance of each branch, including monitoring of variances from plan and prior year. When used as part of good business practices in Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) departments, a bank can improve its strategic decisions and profitability, and it can reduce the chances that managers don’t quickly discover major variances and the reasons behind them.

Example of a Branch-level Income Statement

Here is an example of a Branch-level Income Statement Report with prior year and budget variances.

Example of an Income Statement Report for bank branches

Example of an Income Statement Report for bank branches

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Report?

The typical users of this type of report are: Executives, branch managers, finance leader.

Other Reports Often Used in Conjunction with Branch-level Income Statements

Progressive Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) departments sometimes use several different Branch-level Income Statements, along with consolidated income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, KPI reports, executive dashboards, budget models and forecasts and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data typically comes from enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples