Standard financial reports tend to follow the same template, which is a list of accounts and their totals for the month and year. This information is critical to financial advisors, but the standard report template doesn’t tell us what the values mean. One of the goals of any report is to highlight relevant information so a user can easily see if something’s wrong and take corrective action. Let’s examine two kinds of financial reports and you can decide for yourself which one would make an impact for more stakeholders at your organization.
This report (after the jump) shows a sample income statement for a fictional company. While it displays all of the necessary information, you’d have to read every line item in order to find out that the total income from this month is down 50% from the same time last year. It’s also difficult to differentiate the total from specific line items because the dollar amounts are the same font size and color. With the technology available to finance teams today, this type of boring, ineffective financial report should become a thing of the past.
The challenges facing today’s finance leaders
I returned from CFO Magazine’s Corporate Performance Management Conference last week with a sense that many finance leaders are experiencing similar problems when it comes to achieving a holistic view of company performance. I like to reflect on the common themes after a conference, and after this one, I kept coming back to the theme of “one shared challenge.” As a vendor who exhibits at several conferences per year, we’re used to hearing about a multitude of BI/analysis/data issues, but at this event, everyone seemed to be on the same page.
arcplan sponsored the CPM Conference, held around the corner from our US headquarters at the Loews Philadelphia. It brought together 150 CFOs, VPs of Finance, Directors of FP&A, Controllers, and Analysts for three days of workshops, case studies and networking. We had plenty of time to speak with attendees, and it was remarkable how many times I heard the same challenge:
I can’t connect all of my data on one screen.
I talked to many people using IBM Cognos, SAP, Oracle, and other systems simultaneously with no method to make them all work together. The inability to easily share critical business insight across the organization was a hot topic during every networking break. Again and again I was asked how arcplan could solve the issue of everyone spending their time of the process of monthly data gathering and not on the analysis…