How can Financial Managers of SMBs benefit from automated business reporting?

What is business reporting? ‘Month End’ is typically a testing time for Financial Managers (FMs). They are juggling the accounting demands of their work with the impatient requests for information from the business owners, directors or other managers, or from all of them. And, if they’re part of a large corporate, they have corporate reporting requirements to attend to as well! The reports that are typically being requested are:

  • Income Statement for the month just ended and year to date, comparing current period and year to date totals, with budget and prior year.
  • Income Statement revised forecast for the full year vs. budget and prior year.
  • Balance Sheet analysis
  • Ratio analysis
  • Cash flow analysis
  • Sales reports
  • Sale commission reports
  • Expense analysis
  • Debtors and Creditors age analysis

In most small and medium businesses (SMBs) these are manually prepared in Microsoft ®Excel® after the month end process has been completed, which typically means that decision makers get the information well into the new month. Apart from issues of outdated information and of the FM’s time being taken up with manual, repetitive preparation of these reports, it also creates a host of other issues, for example, human errors, burnout due to being in a constant state of ‘spreadsheet hell’ and poorly presented information.

So what is automated business reporting? A product such as Sage Intelligence lets an FM or, any other decision makers, effortlessly run their reports directly from their Accounting/ERP system (assuming they have access to the system). The reports, listed above, can be run in real time (as long as the bookkeeping is efficient and up-to-date) allowing for more time spent on analysis and less in report preparation, improving visibility into the organization and thereby helping decision makers make more informed business decisions, quicker. The icing on the cake is that these reports are elegantly presented in the familiar environment of Microsoft Excel (see example below), the business tool of choice for most FMs, and these reports can then provide useable and reliable information to key stakeholders in order to make important business decisions.

How FMs can benefit from automated reporting

There are very few FMs that would not want to have more time available to add strategic value to the business and yet, unfortunately, many of them perform the functions of an accountant whose primary role is to ensure compliance. A tool such as Sage Intelligence not only gives FMs a chance to really impress his/her directors with the timing and quality of the reports but, more importantly creates capacity. In most SMBs, the FM is far too valuable to be ‘number crunching’ all of the time; he/she is often the only trained financial person and should therefore spend a fair percentage of time thinking strategically through a financial lens.

For more information about Sage Intelligence, and to see a demo of how the software works, take a look at this video.