As a business leader, have you ever looked at a management report and thought “I’m sure this is telling me something, and there are lots of numbers, but I can’t put my finger on it!”?
Never fear, you are not alone!
Thankfully, we have seen dramatic improvements in this area in recent years. Not only is reporting coming quicker, due to improvements in ERP technology, they are also becoming more tailored to the leadership team’s needs. Those producing these reports need to recognize that it’s about much more than just the financial performance.
A typical, contemporary management report should build on the financial performance and provide a narrative. Quickly and concisely delivering the leadership team with the information they need to make decisions. Examples of this tailoring include a focus on leading indicators, competitor activity, industry analysis, critical project information and other non-financial items such as HR insights, Safety performance and Quality Data.
Review and commentary around leading indicators are akin to “Binoculars” for a leadership team. Giving them advanced notification of both risks to be avoided, or opportunities to be exploited. Basic leading indicators usually involve an instrument to give warnings around future volumes (i.e. Pipeline reports, Sales reports, etc. etc.).
More advanced leading indicators could include external economic indicators such as interest rate movement, forecasted foreign exchange rates, or commodity price forecasts. Though they don’t need to be that detailed, for example, a simple review of customer satisfaction surveys will provide the leadership team with a greater level of visibility will provide the leadership team with a greater level of visibility.
An ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu wrote, — ‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result”, and so we also need to report on competitor activity. For example, contracts won/lost, market initiatives, analysis of competitor strategies and potential responses or estimates of competitor cost structures and pricing. Following on from this, information encompassing the broader industry compliments the competitor analysis. Providing the “context” and “Defining the landscape” of which you operate. This information adds to the “narrative” that should be built.
Other items that support and add to the narrative should also be considered, for example, a manufacturing business should review throughput, production productivity and Quality assessments. Or a retail business should review items such as the types of number of products sold, average customer spend, stock turnover rates etc.
Basically, a good management report arms the leadership team with the right information it needs to move forward with confidence. Or to take another angle, the absence of this tailored information leaves the leadership team “flying blind”!
About the Author
Simon has a natural ability to understand the value creation process of a business. For more than 10 years he has have worked in a wide variety of business environments, all requiring a strong and committed management accountant to provide guidance and leadership. Simon understands that all businesses generate value differently, from a small corner store to a large international Engineering and Construction Company. Simon has worked with a very large cross section of businesses across my career and has taken the time to understand what it is they do, and what makes them unique.
Simon’s ability to be forward thinking, engaging, understanding and communicative, all culminates in successful value creation.
If you have any specific questions or would like to suggest future blog topics, please do not hesitate to contact Simon on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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