The ‘real last mile in reporting’
Financial disclosure is often referred to as the 'last mile in reporting'. As a result, suppliers of financial reporting systems such as IBM, SAP, Oracle and Tagetik offer good solutions that allow clients to create an annual report quickly and securely.
Nevertheless, the term 'last mile in reporting' is not entirely correct. In practice, the reporting process does not end there. The 'real last mile in reporting' is communication with stakeholders! And there is much room for improvement in that real last phase of the reporting process.
In this article, I describe recognisable examples of problems that many organisations encounter, as well as a solution.
Financial data is an essential part of every annual report. Software that provides this information quickly and accurately, therefore, has great added value. But these days, annual reports don’t just consist of financial information. Non-financial information is becoming increasingly important, as evidenced by the emergence of integrated annual reports. However, this non-financial information usually comes from different sources. In other words, a complete and integrated final report depends on supplementing the output from financial reporting systems with information from other sources.
The result: professionals who spend a lot of time cutting and pasting.
A good copywriter is indispensable for effective communication with stakeholders. They will combine all financial and non-financial information to create an accessible and coherent story. This means that the narrative part of the report will need to be edited or rewritten.
The result: several different versions in circulation.
Many financial systems offer the possibility to export a report to programs such as Word, Excel, PDF or HTML. Unfortunately, these export opportunities usually do not meet the needs of the marketing and communication department. That is why the copywriter’s story, including the figures, is usually sent to a designer. The designer then creates a nicely-formatted PDF of the report, which is then printed or offered as a downloadable PDF file. Even with the designer, correction rounds are often used.
The result: extra control and proofreading work.
In addition to PDFs, an increasing number of organisations are also realising an online version of their annual report, as described in Michael Laermann’s article 'Unleashing the Power of Online Reporting'. This can be a public version, a summary or an interactive presentation of the complete report. Online publication increases the scope of the report and thereby the communicative impact. Online communication also offers more opportunities for tailor-made information, which stakeholders want.
However, making an online report is a laborious process. The web builder must turn the PDF into an interactive, web-designed version. This means that a lot of work has to be repeated. Moreover, final corrections also have to be made on the web builder side.
The result: more work, more version management issues and even more proofreading.
Finance professionals benefit from good software, making an increasing amount of efficiency possible during the 'last mile of reporting'. However, this does not apply to their colleagues in marketing and communication. They experience inefficiency in their 'real last mile of reporting'. In their efforts to enable good communication with stakeholders, they need to cut, paste, correct, draft and duplicate much of the work.
The result: employees are faced with time-consuming and error-prone extra correction and audit procedures. Plus, an overview between the different versions is lost.
The question is… can’t this be done differently? The answer is: yes! You can combine the output of financial reporting systems with the publication benefits of Digital First reporting (see figure 1).
Digital First reporting software lets you:
Easily combine and synchronise content from different sources (Word, Excel, financial reporting systems, etc.).
Work securely and efficiently at one central location.
Publish your reports easily and quickly to a visually-appealing PDF, a responsive website and other channels.
The result is an efficient and effective 'real last mile in reporting'. With Digital First reporting, you save time and costs while achieving greater reach.
So, use the power of combination, and link your financial reporting system to a Digital First reporting platform!