What are some significant challenges companies are facing when it comes to management reporting?

Q:

What are some significant challenges companies are facing when it comes to management reporting?

A:

Companies face an array of serious challenges in management reporting, which is essentially a broad-spectrum approach to providing information to levels of management in order to drive business planning.

Management reporting may be aimed at financials – understanding sales numbers and profit margins, and how to improve both. Management reporting might be aimed at IT – understanding the return on investment of architectures and efficiency and efficacy of systems.

Regardless of the specific goals and objectives included in the scope of management reporting, companies often run into problems with the management reporting process itself – needing to utilize best practices in order to keep this reporting effective and accurate.

One of the biggest core challenges is the quality of data. Often companies experience bottlenecks, or they get old or inconsistent data into the system, and it makes the results less accurate. (Read How has data scraping for machine learning become the most labor-intensive bottleneck since manual data entry in legacy migration?)

Raw or unformatted data can be a challenge as well. In general, professional planning needs to allow data to flow through the through the system to where it can be most useful, which is, in many cases, in management reports and top-level ERP software products.

Another major challenge involves an imbalance between technical reporting and an overall narrative or big picture. Numbers on their own can be confusing without a clear narrative. Data needs to be refined into insights.

For this particular challenge and associated challenges, a principal called data visualization can be extremely useful. The principle of data visualization is that a visual dashboard moves numerical data into a format where it can be easily understood and digested by planners. Visual dashboards present aggregated information in a useful and actionable way, which drives better and more effective management reporting at all levels.

Format and organization is another area where challenges may apply. A management report is crafted according to specific goals and objectives. If it gets too far down into the details and doesn't address the big picture – if it is disjointed and planners can't find the right pieces when they need them – all of these things can contribute to less effective results in management reporting.

To be entirely effective, management reporting should be focused and targeted to what the business needs. Other challenges related to this kind of data refining process involve stakeholders and buy-in from involved parties. Good design and implementation is key to having the right insights derived from business intelligence data in order to present great management reports to executives and other leadership teams.

These are some of the major challenges in management reporting that companies have to overcome. A good consulting plan and brainstorming on goals and objectives will clear away some of the obstacles and allow for forward movement.

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Written by Justin Stoltzfus
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Justin Stoltzfus is a freelance writer for various Web and print publications. His work has appeared in online magazines including Preservation Online, a project of the National Historic Trust, and many other venues.
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