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Is the monthly management pack a thing of the past?

Is the monthly management pack a thing of the...

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I'm preparing a series of articles for AccountingWEB that hark back to a very successful series several years ago when we asked a lot of finance managers, What is the ideal monthly management pack?

The articles obviously struck a chord, but after talking to a few accountants and software suppliers recently, I'm wondering if the management pack has been pensioned off in favour of more immediate, interactive approaches such as KPI dashboards, reporting by exception and giving line manager online access to "self-serivce" financial data.

Have these new-fangled techniques had much impact on your working life, or do you still rely on an Excel P&L summarising the monthly totals alongside budget targets?

I'd be interested in hearing feedback from all comers on any of the following topics:

  • What factors have affected your approach to management reporting - for example CSR and reporting more non-financial info; meeting demand for more timely and sophisticated data (eg real time visibility of costs, margins etc)?
  • What tools are you using - and does Excel still rule the roost?
  • What are your tips and techniques for improving management reporting?

I'm looking forward to an interesting debate!

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By tom123
24th Apr 2013 20:25

A bit of everything here

My company: 1000 employees, global, UK subsidiary. defence manufacturing. There is something for everyone in our reporting:

 

Transactions recorded in ERP system ->

Data analysed by BI (business intelligence tools) - >Leading to

Reports available through Intranet - leading to

Beautifully crafted powerpoint presentations for decision makers.

Linked dynamically into Word Documents -

Printed and saved as PDF for the board.

 

Operationally, I think we use 'self service' reports on demand - for managing orders and despatches. The further up the 'food chain' one goes, the greater the amount of summarisation and crafting that goes into the reporting.

Our ERP system requires a lot of information to be put in - but getting information out is a detective / forensic exercise - maybe other systems are similar?

A lot of our processes (such as payroll / accruals / prepayments) are monthly anyway - so I think we will have a monthly cycle of reporting for a while yet.

I heard a quote (could have been on AWeb) that, the higher up the organisation, the less people would accept how much Excel was used as a key tool. The hypothetical CEO, who has signed off on the best of breed software, assumes all the data comes directly from it with very little intervention needed. Reality is somewhere near,  but there is a long way to go.

My personal preference would be to get rid of all the apportionments and cross charging that clog up the processes - and often lead to confused decision makers anyway.

A lot of my time can be taken up by un picking these 'accounting' entries to try and show people what actually ocurred in the real world.

 

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By Chris Smail
25th Apr 2013 02:07

All things are subject to both fashion and marketing hype.

 

Almost every business boils down to a few key controllables that have to be monitored closely, how you do it is up to you.

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By Old Greying Accountant
25th Apr 2013 10:15

Horses for courses ...

... the day to day management benefits from KPI's and dashboards, but if you have a higher "big picture" level of management then the more traditional pack is a useful tool for overall control and long term planning/steering.

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Replying to justsotax:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
25th Apr 2013 10:20

uh?

For my clients, a management pack has never been a thing of the past, present or future!  And as for KPIs, most of them would think I was talking about a brand of peanuts.

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
25th Apr 2013 12:48

You have to report on Items that are key for your business

In my ex job. I developed a standard report that was a falsh report of the business including KPI

info like Occupancy Levels, expenses as % of turnover, Debtors days etc. Profits by cost centre etc.

Its only worth doing if people actually act on it.

Now or old systems doesnt really matter its what you do with the info that will make a difference.

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