If it takes your company a week or more to complete monthly financial reporting, I can almost guarantee that your reporting is manual, copy-paste into Excel, tedious, error-prone, and entirely ineffective for managing your business, much less growing it.

In addition, with such cumbersome processes, it is nearly impossible to produce weekly or even daily financial reporting. Without timely, current, and relevant data, your business is losing profitability, productivity, and predictability.

In Good to Great, Jim Collins discovered six key determinants of greatness, four of which I believe relate directly to your company’s reporting.

The first of these factors is confronting the brutal facts of your current reality.  Collins’ research concluded that “both good companies and great companies had virtually identical access to good information. The key, then, lies not in better information, but in turning information into information that cannot be ignored.”

Creating information that cannot be ignored requires three capabilities:

Collecting the right data based on your business drivers.  For example, at iBusiness Solutions, the profits in our services line of business are largely determined by three things:

  1. our utilization – the percentage of a consultant’s time billed to client projects,
  2. our hourly billing rate – the amount we charge for each hour of utilization, and
  3. our personnel expenses – the amount of each dollar of revenue that goes to paying the consultant.

We collect, analyze, and forecast performance based on these three drivers every week, month, and year.  Throughout the year, we can quickly reforecast simply by adjusting our key drivers to reflect current reality.

Managing your data so that it is aligned with your organization’s accountability and reporting structure.  You must be able to report and plan:

  1. by location/store,
  2. by employee,
  3. by product/service, or
  4. wherever the accountability lies for performance.

From there, you need to be able to quickly and accurately roll up your data by geography, by legal business entity, and more.

Analyzing your data in multiple ways:

  1. Reporting historical data and trends so you can see and communicate past results throughout your organization,
  2. Comparing results to benchmarks and goals so you can coach and influence the current decisions of your key producers and decision-makers, and
  3. Creating forecasts and plans so you can predict and anticipate future opportunities for business growth, even as business, economic, marketplace, and regulatory conditions change throughout the year.

The longer you wait to confront the brutal facts of your current reality, the more you will see business opportunities pass you by. The longer you wait to turn your data into information that cannot be ignored, the more you will miss opportunities to grow your key employees and engage your best customers.

If you are part of a multi-location retail business, The iBLeague™ might be a great option for you to capture, manage, and analyze your operational and financial reporting.  If you have complex reporting and planning needs, a custom application might be a better fit for your financial reporting needs.

Whatever you do, start today.  Your next big opportunity is just around the corner, whether you can see it coming or not!

Question: How much of your operational and financial reporting is being ignored?