Management information: The new frontier

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AccountingWEB’s management reporting series looks at how forward-looking firms are building KPIs and periodic reports into their business services. John Stokdyk reports.

In recent weeks we have been interviewing and talking to management accountants about how regulatory and technological changes have affected the way they prepare and present financial (and non-financial) data to company owners and managers.

But the same trends are just as relevant for practising accountants. The bulk of many firms work involves preparing accounts and returns for Companies House and HMRC. But what cloud accounting evangelist Richard Messik calls the “audit annuity” is under threat from last year’s threshold increase and European proposals to simplify reporting for micro-entities.

“Clients do not need an audit,” said Messik. “That’s going to make it a bit harder and practitioners will need to find ways to replace it with other services - mostly management accounts, where they can deal with planning issues with real time information, rather than waiting nine months for the final accounts.”

This was very similar to the message from many of the accountancy firms shortlisted for last year’s Practice Excellence Awards. These firms consistently identified outsourced management accounting as a key feature of their success.

Developing accounting processes and key performance indicators (KPIs) for clients gave these firms a way to start conversations that deepened their relationships and strengthened the role they played in guiding strategy at their clients’ companies.

Lessons from Milsted Langdon

No one exemplified this trend more than Milsted Langdon, the 2012 large firm Practice Excellence Award winner. Much of the management reporting work it undertakes...

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The dashboard challenge

How practitioners can add value

Excel still has a role to play

What’s stopping you?

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About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk is the global editor of AccountingWEB UK and


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20th Jun 2013 11:53

Excel addin

A very good article.

There are a number of excel add-in software which enable some of this to be automated.

Directly from accounts packages like Sage 50.

The process of getting to the underlying data is made easier and drill facilities then allow the user to drill down to the transactions and even copy invoices, all from Excel.

The Analyser can then see everything they need to produce the reports they require.

Accountants also often benefit from Excel training to ensure they achieve the max their benefits from their software.



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20th Jun 2013 12:35

Converting Sage data into meaningful dashboard information

Many practitioners appreciate this is the way forward but often, they do not have the time or Excel skills to produce these dashboards. At FD Solutions, we specialise in converting Sage data into timely meaningful dashboards which provide business owners with backward and forward looking information. Please take a look at this link to find out more.

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By gavster
20th Jun 2013 17:13

Excel Addin

Nice article...

We've recently launched an Excel Add-In for our accounting product AccountsIQ ( This makes the process of extracting data from the system a breeze for our users.

It's possible to download P&L, Trial Balance, Balance Sheet, Sales/Purchases Analysis and Transactional data from AccountsIQ into Excel in seconds. 

You can then develop report templates in Excel based on pivot tables for example and then just click one button to refresh your data instantly. This cuts out the headaches of manually extracting data from the accounting system's reports each month and trying to import them into a spreadsheet model.

It makes the preparation of monthly report packs far easier and we're now finding there is less demand for specific modifications to the 'canned' reports that come with the package.

I agree that the latest versions of Excel (2010 and 2013) make it far easier to develop pivot tables and charts than before. Excel now plays a major part in Microsoft's BI product portfolio and is now capable of handling very large datasets.


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24th Jun 2013 21:22

Do I have to be an advertiser to post a comment here?

Sorry to break up the flow of blatant advertising here, but I'm getting a strong impression that the latest BI tools are a lot of answers to questions that no-one is asking!

Rob Connell is right when he says "Their reports will often be something that is presented rather than discussed. Most managers will ignore them.” That's not the fault of the reports or how they are presented, or even how current they are. It's down to accountants producing the data that managers and business owners both WANT and UNDERSTAND.In my experience, most non-accountant business owners run their businesses on a small handful of statistics, not aways financial ones.

The success of Steve Pipe's AVN "One Page Plan" is in its title - it's everything you need to know, on one page! Advisers would do well to find out what their clients what to know, and then deliver that to them on a timely basis in a format that they can quickly and easily assimilate. For some, that will mean pictorially, but for others a few numbers will be fine. In most cases, the accountant's skill is in distilling the key stats from the mass of data and not trying to give the client everything!


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