Five non-negotiable questions you should be asking your reporting solution

Many companies today suffer from a lack of visibility into key performance metrics. We call this “keyhole visibility” because it’s the equivalent of trying to evaluate what’s happening in a room by looking through the keyhole. With a narrow view, you’re unable to fully understand what’s behind the door and what might be lurking around the corner. Likewise, with insufficient reporting on financial and operational details, you are forced to make critical decisions on the basis of only a small portion of the information.

But, how do you go about finding the right reporting solution for your organisation? With so many options available out there, it’s not surprising that many businesses get caught up in deciding which solution is for them, rather than having a solution that makes decision making that much easier.

Here are a few non-negotiable questions you should be asking your current (or next) reporting solution:

1. What difference does it make to me?

It should offer you a better, simpler reporting experience by automating your manual reporting process and providing you with fully customizable reports that allow you to get started right away.

2. What difference does it make to my business?

The solution should help to increase company performance and revenue by automatically distributing timely and accurate reports to the relevant departments. This will both drive down business costs with your finance team being able to analyse your data rather than spend hours creating manual reports, as well as provide the sales team with up-to-date information that they can use to analyze buying behaviours, identify up- and cross-selling opportunities, and spend more time chasing prospects.

3. How does it manage my data?

With a good reporting solution, you should feel empowered to operate your business with the confidence to make better business decisions through timely, and accurate insights into your data. You will have a central repository of reports and user-based security to manage who can access which reports.

4. Does the solution give me the detail I need?

You should expect immediate visibility into insightful information when you need it. This information should be available to view any way you choose, be it looking at the bigger picture of what’s going on in your business, or drilling down into the detail.

5. Does it allow me to consolidate my information and view it all in one place?

The reporting solution you equip your business with must allow you to gain complete control over your business’s reporting needs. This is especially true if you require it to consolidate information from multiple systems. A good reporting solution will enable you pull information from different databases into one report, giving you a holistic view of your business. This will allow you to view information from two different sources, for example; create a consolidated report with information from your BMS and CRM system, or create a multi-company or multi-currency report.

The starting point in discovering a reporting solution that suits your business’s visibility needs is identifying what information you need visibility into, in what format, and what your internal skills are in the business. Are you looking to upskill yourself on a reporting solution that you will operate internally? Or are you looking for a business partner’s assistance in providing you with the relevant solution, and then customize the reports to suit your company’s reporting requirements? No matter what your requirements are, becoming aware that it’s time to unlock and open the door to complete business visibility is the first step on a journey to running a smoother, more successful business. Take a look at this guide and explore  related best practices for hot-button issues such as securing financing, preventing profit erosion and reducing risk. It will also help you identify key elements you should look for in a reporting system.