Five tips to optimize your financial reporting

June 27, 2019

Originally published on the French financial news and information site Journal du Net (JDN), by Laure De Saint Germain of Workiva

Five tips to optimize your financial reporting

Relying on an effective financial reporting system is essential for companies to be able to make appropriate strategic decisions.

According to a 2018 financial reporting survey, 64% of accounting, finance and compliance professionals say that auditing data as part of the reporting process is their biggest challenge. Other issues are the aggregation and preparation of data from multiple systems, IT and other resources, and the management of requested changes required by regulatory agencies or external audits.

While each company faces its own challenges, the study highlights a common factor: the increasing complexity of corporate structures. In an EY survey of 500 large companies, half of the respondents said they had more than 10 active divisions in their organization. At the same time, 75% of participants use more than five different financial reporting systems, and more than 66% find that they write more financial reports than they did three years ago.

Faced with this complexity, it is worrying to see the majority of companies use manual processes to manage information and data. Effective measures to improve their financial reporting process exist however:

Collect and standardize data

The first step is to create flexible document templates to consistently contribute to it while defining a structured process for collecting source data, whether from internal systems or individual files.

Organize your information

Given the volume of data and information circulating within a company, it is essential to organize them. To do this, build datasets that can be easily filtered and manipulated. Develop easy-to-apply standard reporting guidelines, document templates, and standard formats for each of your divisions. In addition, implement the necessary controls and permissions on each document and spreadsheet to ensure data integrity throughout the process.

Work on the source data and let the links do the rest

By working from a single environment, you can create links between a source data and the different locations (text, table or graph) where this data appears. So when the source data changes, it is updated automatically wherever it appears, which avoids tedious copying and pasting. In this context, be sure to correctly define each source to eliminate discrepancies within a single document.

Focus on collaboration

To improve efficiency and productivity in your business, you need to put in place a collaborative process that allows multiple users to work live on documents securely and simultaneously. Avoid the loss of time inherent in traditional financial reporting processes that always use shared disks and locally edited documents.

Focus on centralization

To facilitate access to all data and other important documents, gather all your reports in a centralized environment. Each collaborator works from the same version of the document and exchanges key information within the same platform ensuring optimal traceability, which will eliminate organizational inconsistencies over time.

The digital transformation is underway, and the volumes of data to be processed are not about to diminish. By applying these five tips, organizations can organize this information, streamline processes to facilitate data management, and encourage collaboration while strengthening their workflows.

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