Exploring Modern Reporting Trends, Part 2: Real-Time Decision Support

The accounting and financial teams in growing businesses are taking a modern approach to reporting, going well beyond the prepping and printing of paper financial statements. Not only are they leveraging both financial and operational data from multiple systems, as we discussed in part 1 of this modern reporting trends blog series, but they’re producing timely, visually dynamic reports that easily meet the needs of multiple stakeholders on-demand.

Sure, this is a far cry from the more traditional reporting that was steadfast in the pre-digital world—but that’s what makes the industry’s technology evolution so exciting. And reporting capabilities that were on the wish list for financial and accounting professionals for so many years are now attainable, thanks to today’s cloud-based financial management systems. Let’s take a closer look:

  1. Providing Real-Time Data and Real-Time Access

An Intacct white paper cites the following Aberdeen research findings:

  • 64% of business managers have seen their decision-making time shrink over the last year
  • 42% of business managers say they need information to make decisions within a day
  • 28% of business managers said they need data to make decisions within an hour of a business event

With this in mind, it becomes essential for an agile accounting and finance team to deliver fast insights—and keep them coming. Decision-makers can ask for reports on any business driver at any time, after all, and they may want to run reports on their own computer, tablet, or smartphone. Answering their call requires flexibility and consistency from the underlying financial management system. A solution like Intacct’s makes it easy to 1) develop reports that update automatically and are available on-demand to users, and 2) design interactive executive dashboards of key performance indicators (KPI) to monitor the status of the organization.

  1. Tailoring Reports For Each Stakeholder

Executives in the boardroom, company investors, government regulators, customers, or the sales team—there are many potential audiences for financial and operational reports. It makes sense that the information is customized for the particular audience, so metrics and their insights have actionable meaning and lead to desired results. This is important from not only a internal and external customer service perspective, but also for ensuring fast action on the data, whether you’re seeking funding approvals or employee buy-in to a new initiative.

With Intacct’s reporting solution, users can design dashboards that tell them just what they want to see, from cash balances to project profitability, in any ratio or metric. This means an executive can simply sign-into the system and take a look at their automatically updated dashboard—or slice, dice, and drill-down for the other information they need. Or, the finance team can run reports and then easily share them in a way that works best for their audience.

  1. Delivering the Insights Visually

In today’s digital and increasingly mobile world, effective visualization of information is critical. Financial and operational reports are most effective when they’re easy to understand at-a-glance. Forget about printed spreadsheets filled with black-and-white figures and welcome advanced, user-friendly visualizations into your reporting repertoire.

Consider what Intacct offers users of their cloud-based financial management and reporting solution:

  • Conditional highlighting, where background colors indicate when specific metrics fall above or below your pre-defined ranges.
  • Sparklines that summarize historical numbers as miniature line graphs to clearly display a metric’s long-term trend, over weeks, months, quarters, or years.
  • Color scaling, or single-color gradient backgrounds that highlight the high, low, and in-between values of individual metrics that roll up to a total.
  • Trend Indicators that sit alongside the numbers to convey—with red, green, or black arrows or dots—whether a given metric is increasing or decreasing over time.

With handy visualizations like these, decision-makers can make faster sense of the data they’re viewing—and that means they can make faster, more informed decisions.

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