Can you imagine pressing a magic button and new monthly data from accounting, managerial adjustments and forecasts flowing into your reporting? And pressing it for a second time, and generating a monthly set of management reports? This isn’t a utopia. There is a way to get close to such a scenario. We’ll show you a few basic rules which will help significantly accelerate and simplify the monthly accounts automation process.
The basis is uniformly set rules for reporting by all management entities. Whether you’re a holding, a larger company which operates in several countries or a company which has multiple reporting units, set clear rules on what an indicator (set of indicators) for the smallest unit you want to report should look like. It’s also advisable to define which indicators you need for management reporting – whether only a profit and loss statement and non-financial KPIs, or also receivable management, CapEx, cash flow etc. The difficulty of the process which will lead you to the goal is based on this requirement. Information granularity may be different for various types of indicators, but it must always be based on the same principles and master data.
Master data is key data via which you will view your indicators. Typically, these are:
- reporting account (not to be confused with chart of accounts)
- business units
- customer segments
- scenarios and versions thereof
From the perspective of management reporting, you can also regard the data for KPI calculation as master data. Accounting data usually doesn’t contain the required detail of information for management reporting, which is why master data must be supplemented with reporting rules on how to obtain the required information (so-called reporting guidelines). If you need to hierarchize master data into groups and trees, then these rules must also be hierarchized.
Once a unified process and master data have been defined, you can automate reporting. Automation means the use of tools which
- can support the process (workflow tool) – enable the opening and closing of periods, scenarios and sets of provided data, manage user authorisations, communicate validations and hand over status information
- can quickly and repeatedly process data, and integrate it into a defined data model
- visualises data and provides it to the financial and controlling departments, which effectively work with it further
That means providing completed and ready-made standard outputs from management P&L, receivables, cash flow etc., including time and scenario comparisons. All transparently, and in accordance with defined rules, so that all participants know, at any given time, what the status of the given reporting cycle is and when it was successfully completed.
Rely on ready-made solutions
There are ready-made solutions for the unified control of management reporting. Turn to a partner who has dealt with the given situation before, and will guide you through the setup of the process, master data and automation mechanism. One such solution is the FinReCo product – financial reporting and controlling management from Adastra, which contains all of the described properties. It‘s a set of standard products with strong support for process management, master data and data processing. In its output, it contains a wide user set of tools such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Power BI and web reports, which are child’s play for every controller. The only question is what the results are currently required for. The implementation of a standardised solution for a management profit and loss statement takes around 3 months, and requires minimum input from the customer. The implementation is governed by standardised procedures and rules which will lead you reliably to the desired goal.
Don’t forget extensibility
No less important is the solution’s extensibility to include future functionalities, which are a very frequent continuation of the initial phase. These are extensions from the area of
- finance – modelling of various development scenarios, reallocation rules for indirect costs, customer and product profitability
- sales – linking with product and customer data, customer base movement
- HR – information regarding realised work, hours and times, FTE numbers and many others.
The chosen tool should also enable this in the future, so that you don’t close the door on necessary expansion.
Article by David Kaláb - Insurance Division Director and Finance 4.0 Expert - was published in the CFO World, vol. 4/2020.
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