HOW TO GET THE RE­PORTS YOU WANT

‘ RE­PORT­ING’ IS JUST A CODE WORD FOR GET­TING THE IN­FOR­MA­TION YOU NEED TO BE IN CON­TROL AND MAKE SMART DE­CI­SIONS. EL­LIOT COOPER SAYS EVEN THE SMALL­EST BUSI­NESS HAS THE POWER TO GEN­ER­ATE RE­PORTS THAT DE­LIVER PROFIT- BOOST­ING IN­SIGHTS.

NZ Business - - CON­TENTS -

Even the small­est busi­ness has the power to gen­er­ate re­ports that de­liver profit-boost­ing in­sights.

E ffec­tive re­port­ing drives your key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors (KPIs), which is a fancy way of saying ‘things you could re­ally ben­e­fit from know­ing’. In essence you want to track your KPIs; iden­tify trends; and find any out­liers.

Re­port­ing is the sin­gle big­gest pain point for busi­nesses. It is im­por­tant to base your busi­ness de­ci­sions on the best sci­ence you can muster. Do­ing it badly rep­re­sents lost money and lost op­por­tu­nity. Here’s how you can get the re­ports you want – with­out need­ing a de­gree in sta­tis­tics.

THREE STEPS TO GET DE­CENT RE­PORT­ING QUICKLY AND COST EF­FEC­TIVELY

1. Get clear on what you want to know. Re­tail­ers may want the aver­age spend per cus­tomer through the door; Man­u­fac­tur­ing firms the cause and quan­tity of down­time. Data comparisons are es­sen­tial to un­der­stand­ing your own data – com­mon ex­am­ples are com­pany sales vs. to­tal in­dus­try sales; and comparisons of your data vs. in­dus­try stan­dard.

2. Cap­ture the data be­fore you can re­port on it. To re­port on sales per me­tre of floor space, your sys­tem needs to know floor space quan­tity.

3. Find your most cost ef­fec­tive de­liv­ery method. If your busi­ness em­ploys less than ten peo­ple, the best op­tions are usu­ally ei­ther the in-house re­port­ing en­gine in your ac­count­ing sys­tem; Mi­crosoft Ex­cel; or Mi­crosoft Power BI.

CRACK­ING DE­LIV­ERY

You may have to change the ac­count­ing plat­form you’re run­ning to make your data avail­able to a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent re­port­ing tools. Mak­ing your data more ac­ces­si­ble can de­liver rich re­port­ing gains. If you’re lucky, you are al­ready run­ning an ac­count­ing sys­tem that can make your data avail­able to a re­port­ing tool that suits you. If your ac­count­ing sys­tem runs on SQL Server you can con­nect to al­most any third party re­port­ing tool. Some cloud ac­count­ing prod­ucts – like MYOB Ad­vanced – use O-Data feeds that are eas­ily ac­cessed by third party re­port­ing tools.

THIRD PARTY RE­PORT­ING TOOLS FOR ALL BUD­GETS

At the top end of town you have third party prod­ucts like Cog­nos, Halo and Theta. They are gen­er­ally not suit­able for very small busi­nesses. Small to medium-sized busi­nesses may be bet­ter off look­ing at prod­ucts like Alchemex, which are faster to im­ple­ment.

Cheapest of all? Use the in-house re­port­ing en­gine con­tained in the ac­count­ing sys­tem you’re run­ning. Mi­crosoft Ex­cel is an­other re­port­ing tool you have prob­a­bly al­ready used. Mi­crosoft Power BI is a pretty de­cent third party tool that’s cheap as chips at around $12 per user per month.

MAK­ING IT HAP­PEN

• Cre­ate a mock-up of the re­port(s) in Ex­cel or on pa­per. This al­lows you to play around with the lay­out and gives in­sight into po­ten­tial is­sues with read­abil­ity. Choos­ing the cor­rect chart type is key to un­der­stand­ing data and draw­ing ac­cu­rate con­clu­sions.

• Talk to your ac­count­ing sys­tem ser­vice provider. They should be able to cre­ate the re­port you re­quire or di­rect you to a suit­able stan­dard re­port.

• Val­i­date the data. Is the data pre­sented cor­rect, and is it meet­ing your ob­jec­tive for com­mis­sion­ing the re­port? Does ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion need to be pre­sented, or do you need an al­ter­na­tive re­port to in­ter­pret the in­for­ma­tion pre­sented? Rome wasn’t built in a day and the best re­ports of­ten re­quire tweak­ing be­fore they’re 100 per­cent. If you make a change to your sys­tem, ask your­self if this will af­fect your re­ports.

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