You want to grow your business. Doing so allows you to increase your market presence and profitability. These are likely to be two things you’ve been chasing from the beginning.
However, with great growth comes great complexity and different types of business reporting to deal with.
The bigger your business gets and the more international it becomes, the more you will need to deal with. You’ll move into different markets, offer more product and service categories, and deal with a variety of customer segments and channels.
In turn, complexity can kill growth if it’s not handled well. It could hit areas that originally made your business succeed, such as decision making, productivity, customer service and innovation.
Complexity is a fact of life, with countries, economies and people interconnected more than in any time in history. And connections are increasing all the time.
You need to deal with a variety of conflicting demands from multiple stakeholders – and it’s in finance that there is a demanding responsibility in dealing with business transactions across investors, regulators and the public.
Read this article to find out how business reporting can help you as things get more complex in your growing company.
Complexity in financial business reporting
Financial reporting and analysis are central to modern business. Not only is it likely to be a legal requirement, making use of this data to make better decisions will be necessary as the size of your company grows.
Naturally, financial reporting is an area that gets more complex the larger your business gets. This is because demands will increase when it to comes to declaring:
- The health of your company – your business and financial condition based on current knowledge and expectations for the future.
- Accurate reports of your operating results and cash flow.
- Financial statements to reflect economic and business reality, helping investors make decisions.
At a basic level, growing companies need transparency when it comes to reporting – customers will place more loyalty in your business and it’s critical that anybody in a financial leadership position gets this right.
There are a number of ways you can provide this. For transparent reporting in a complex environment, you need the following:
A dedicated team with values
It starts with the people.
If you build a team that is dedicated to making sure the organisation keeps to certain values, you’ll find it easier to press the importance of compliance and keep precise reports of both good and bad financial activity.
It’ll give you and your fellow leaders a complete idea of how complex your business is and where you sit.
You’ll need your team to put financial controls and checks in. Responsibilities should be segregated so records can’t be manipulated.
Different team members should initiate, approve, record and reconcile transactions, while you could put fail-safes in place in areas such inventory management by adding a third-party review.
Complex organisations should undergo regular audits to ensure transparency. It shows you have the confidence to let outsiders review your work for any mistakes, and that you’re looking after the company finances with a keen eye and level temperament.
Auditing is a process that highlights any inefficient processes – an inevitability as you grow and get more complex. Audits will also indicate what you’re doing right and what you must do going forward.
To share your financial information
Even if the business is privately owned and you don’t have to, sharing quarterly and annual statements provides transparency as your employees and board grows.
Sharing gains and losses will provide stakeholders with trust and a sense of collaboration, particularly if complexity starts to make an impact. Put in place ways to mitigate issues that affect your growing business.
Mitigating complexity with analytics
As your business grows, so does complexity. You will be presented with multiple data sources and disparate solutions that may well not integrate together, causing poor communication and collaboration.
In the finance function, you may be still working with spreadsheets.
It takes time and energy to pull and summarise this data, and you won’t be able to refresh information in real time – you’ll generally access information that is out of date and inaccurate.
You won’t be able to develop forecasts and create ‘what-if’ scenarios, which are crucial in understanding the reasons for your success.
It is difficult to change all your systems in one go, so it may well be worth investing in an analytics solution that can improve your ability to gather, organise and analyse your data.
There are a number of capabilities you should be looking at to ease the complexity of your finances. You will want to:
Connect and analyse financial and operational data through automation
With the ability to connect to data and analyse it, you can start building a repeatable and reliable process that leads to automation, increasing the speed and reliability of your analytics.
You can certainly save time here – time that was previously spent on slow, manual and unwieldy processes.
Consolidate multiple entities
You need to establish data imports across multiple entities. This allows you to use up-to-date information that will ensure your forecasting and planning is accurate. This will positively impact internal compliance and customer service,
Create reports and charts in a self-service capacity
Instead of forcing your reporting through IT, it will pay to empower users with business management software that offers strong analytical capabilities, allowing your business to streamline analysis without any reporting delay.
We’re now overloaded with information and bombarded with numerous data points that often conflict with each other.
With all these uncertainties and unknowns, causal relationships have been difficult to track, making it difficult to decide whether a course of action is right or not.
With analytics, you can now get to the data and provide a quality picture of what’s happening in your business. You can cut complexity within your business by understanding the root causes of issues through a single version of the truth.
Conclusion on business reporting and complexity
Do remember that dealing with complexity is not simply about predicting the future or reducing your risk – it’s about continuously adapting and learning at speed to make the most of every worthwhile opportunity.
You need structure and conditions that push adaptability, learning and creative problem solving, and you must encourage an environment where pooled intelligence is allowed to flourish.
That means agility, with an ability to communicate in real time where expert individuals have the right information when they need it.