According to Sage, those with more usable data grow 35% faster year on year. It is therefore imperative for businesses to solve their reporting challenges in order to obtain usable data that can be used to fuel strategies.
In a series of blog posts we’re identifying reporting challenges. Our first blog post, 5 Ways to Improve Your Business Reporting, addressed five considerations when creating and developing reports that add value. Following on from this, we’re looking at how you can solve your business reporting challenges.
Challenges Businesses Face
Reliance on Others
To ensure your reports are accurate it is important everyone uses your business systems as intended. It is fairly commonplace for staff (including managers and directors) to have their own systems (generally in Excel) which means when preparing reports you need to consult others to collate the data required. However, if the intended systems were used correctly this would not be necessary. To increase user adoption of your business systems, firstly it is important for key stakeholders to “buy in”. If business leaders lead by example it is likely others will follow.
Using a separate systems for different business functions can lead to inaccurate and/or duplicate data, which can skew reports. To overcome this issue you should have clear processes in place for the management and maintenance of data. This may require a cultural shift, along with education on the value of data accuracy and training on how to use the systems effectively. From here, you should introduce measures to ensure everyone is playing their part, i.e. KPIs to monitor your staff’s use of the systems.
As the old cliché goes, “you get out what you put in.” If your workforce are not populating your system with accurate information, or information at all, you will not be able to extract the information you need to inform your business decisions. One way of overcoming this common challenge is to create compulsory fields within your database. This forces the hands of system users, making them enter the information required before they can move onto the next stage of the process.
Manually consolidating data from disparate systems for reporting can be a time consuming, and frustrating process. As Curtis Norman, project manager at Xperience Group explained, “The main challenge that many of our clients face is having to produce management reports manually. Firstly they have to extract financial information out of their existing system and then re-key it into Excel to give them the reports they are after, each time they begin their monthly reporting. Sage 200, however, allows for this data to be extracted out into Excel without the need to re-key data.” If this situation sounds familiar to you, it may be worthwhile looking for business systems that can export data directly into Excel for easy manipulation.
To ensure you get optimum value from your business data you should ask yourself the following:
- What do you need to know?
- What do investors, directors, departmental managers and customers need to know?
- Are your reports easy to digest?
- Do your reports provide you with actionable insights?
Less is more, be concise – Do not be blinded by data.
Businesses that pay attention to their customers and changes in the market will be the ones that survive difficult times, and shine during great times. As explained by David Hardstaff, Sage business expert, “Using your business data effectively can be key to increasing your margins, minimising waste and improving your customer service.”