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Smarter Reports Make Smarter Decisions

Posted by Frank Gerome

Aug 4, 2017

If you polled small and midsize businesses and asked them which reports they use most frequently to monitor and track performance, you’d almost certainly get hundreds of different answers.  It’s pretty obvious that the goals any business wants to achieve impact the decision-making process and, therefore, the data they need to make the best decisions.  However, most businesses exhibit the “80-20 rule”:  20% (or less!) of the reports that the business utilizes likely drives 80% (or more!) of the performance monitoring and decision-making process.

So which reports do you think are the top 5 or so to help you get the complete “high-level” overview of what’s going on with the company?  Some of the classics:

1. Profit & Loss Report with all the typical data points (current month actuals, last month, last month prior year, budget, year-to-date, etc.)

2. Balance Sheet

3. Cash Flow

4. Narrative management summary report (very unique—check it out)

5. KPI/Scorecard report for your top metrics

6. Top 50 sales transactions for the month

7. Payables report showing the largest payments made this month

8. Receivables report showing the oldest aging receivables

9. Graphical trend reports or dashboards (from Dynamics GP or right in Excel!)

Assuming you have a set of “favorite” reports that you and your managers consistently use to help manage the company, here are the next questions:

•  Do you have the technology to produce all of these reports as part of an automated process, or is it a manual process to pull everything together and to deliver it to your management team?
• Do you have a process to capture the discussions once managers have reviewed the reports?
•  Do you have agreed upon thresholds in your report package that can trigger management actions based on the thresholds (for example, if free cash flow passes a certain level, a manager can make a certain investment without delaying the decision with approvals and meetings)?

Hopefully this could spark ideas for anyone trying to put together the “ultimate” management report package.