Magazine article New Zealand Management

Reporting Smarter

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Reporting Smarter

Article excerpt

Q We are a manufacturing company with just over 300 employees. The board meets monthly to review progress against the business plan. It takes quite a lot of my time to prepare the monthly board reports and I often wonder if the time spent is worth the outcome. Our reports cover the surplus or loss we make each month and other key indicators, such as cash flow. I feel there could be more value added to our reporting. Do you have any suggestions?

A Your instincts are right. Enlightened reporting is an area of management that can add enormous benefit for yourself, your management team, the board, and the organisation as a whole. Reports can help everyone understand what is happening in the organisation and how well you are achieving your objectives. The outcome should, however, always add value by helping you to learn from experience and improve performance.

Reporting should focus on the critical targets in the business and strategic plans and look forward as well as back.

Present information on the four critical areas of an organisation's performance and not just the financials. You need to cover the key issues of profit or loss, available cash and equity levels. You also need to assess key performance indicators related to your business operations, people, and customers.

Operationally, you need to know whether the business is achieving its production targets and improving its key business processes to continuously increase efficiency and effectiveness and reduce costs.

And does the company have the right people in the right place at the right time to achieve its goals? You need to know how well they are performing, and whether the enterprise is adding value to its human capital through learning and development.

It is important to understand if customers are satisfied with the company's products, whether the business is innovating to meet changing needs and whether the customer base is increasing or decreasing.

Measuring the performance of the business across these four key areas will create a more holistic picture of what is actually happening and provide deeper insights into the capabilities needed for organisational success. Reports that cover these indicators help the board focus on the critical strategic issues across the business. They also help everyone understand how well they and the business are performing. The end result is increased performance and commitment.

This type of reporting can be presented simply as a one or two page summary of actual results against planned targets and be made up of a mixture of graphs and data tables. …

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