When working with my financial analysis team, I only have two requirements for new reports: They must be efficient to generate and they must be repeatable. So, I termed this new approach ERRor — efficiently repeatable reporting. The alternative is to continually redo, recreate and redesign.
But before you can create your ERRor, you must understand the roadmap to your final reporting destination. The ability to influence reporting results boils down to presentation and promptness.
Presentation is the key to all reporting. You must understand the end-user’s expectation and application for the report. You must challenge yourself to understand how much information and data to provide to each recipient. Higher management demands more summary reports that provide the high-level impacts. Middle and lower management will need to know the finer details that are driving these high-level impacts so they can know what adjustments to complete if needed.
Promptness in recreating your reports now becomes the focal point. The best report presentation is useless if you cannot recreate it in an efficient time frame. Today’s world moves so fast that yesterday’s report can become trash with one client’s change in data elements. Now is when your report development time will pay dividends as you can recreate with a few minor changes.
- Data input — Where outside reports can be dropped in to begin the calculations
- Calculation area — Where all of the real magic happens to consolidate the inputs
- Presentation area — The summary reports you drive for your end-users from your calculations
Don’t wait until the report format is perfect to start presenting. The data that you think is most important may not be, but it is better to keep the process moving forward than to get stalled. Edits are a key component in supplying the best reporting for your end-user. These edits may be to reposition the data in the presentation mode, add new filter and search features, or perform some additional calculations.
Break the silos within your business structure. Many companies have separate business units that focus on product- or service-specific offerings. It is your job to work with your peers to find the best presentation methods. Many of these reports are climbing the ladder to higher management that must now orientate to each business. Your work to create synergies within the business units will save management the time of knowing each report has a specific function and analysis.
In the end, craft the report for less but more impactful information. You can always go back to the more detailed data when questions arise. And remember, it is best to create an ERRor process.