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is business reporting critical for your business success?
Let’s take a look at two
different perspectives and try to be honest with yourself:
(1) The reality we ignore and don’t want to admit…
If you are like more than 90% of business managers your data as well as
important actionable information you need to make good business
decisions is everywhere – on your computer, in the cloud, on your
company server, on your home computer… you might also have some backup
somewhere in case you need something in the future.
Now, in addition think about how many presentations you have prepared in
the last 12 months. How many different excel files have you created in
the last year, budget documents, official and unofficial business plans,
project documents, analysis of everyday business activities, emails you
received with important attachments…
The crucial question is how much time do you need right now to get any
of this information from 2 or 3 different sources or files. Why is this
important? Because even if you are not aware that is what you are doing
on a daily basis. You have an idea, new requirement or you need to
perform some specific analysis or prepare a document and you need
different info. So you will look for one file and look through some
presentations and try to find the spreadsheet with the model you
created.. Now you need to put the different pieces together so you can
analyze your situation. Business information (especially critical and
actionable info) is crucial for making smart decisions and make those
decisions at the time we need to make them not later. So the biggest
issue is the time we waste on creating new valuable information we need
on a daily basis by cross referencing different data from different
Here is the funniest story: The data backup and sharing technology today
and numerous online applications (free or paid services) give you the
freedom to share and store your data, information and files. So we have
various accounts, both personal and business, with all these fancy
features and great convenience (again: great convenience) where we can
store and share documents, files and reports. However in most cases all
this convenience creates even more complexity because you cant use some
accounts for business, some are not approved by your organization, some
platforms are not really secure, you cant access certain information
from home… this is even more complexity in terms of wasting time when
you need to cross reference data and compile info for business
decisions, presentations and reports.
(2) The perfect case scenario (we all need to get there…)
What would be perfect in terms of saving time and improving our business
reporting? The answer is the highest quality of actionable information
we need at anytime available to us whenever we need it.
What do we need to get there?
A. First of all, you need to admit that improving your current
situation and developing effective and efficient reporting system is
critical for your business success. Why? Because of the following top 3
benefits: you’ll save time on a daily basis, you’ll improve the quality
of your work and you’ll help your business. There are more benefits and
value but let’s focus on these three major motivators for now.
B. Second, start with the planning. Don’t start with technology.
Many people make a mistake when trying to improve their business
analysis and reporting by jumping into what applications and platforms
are out there… There is nothing wrong with evaluating different
alternatives however without proper planning and strategy chances are
you’ll end up with something that is not the perfect fit for your
situation and needs. You might overpay for features you don’t really
need and have to adjust your work based on how the technology works
instead of adjusting the solution to your business case.
So, start your plan. The single most important question you need to ask
yourself is what are the most important metrics for your business.
Depending on your organization you might have specific term you use
internally for metrics like KPIs (key performance indicators), profit
drivers, performance metrics, critical business information… Basically
they are all metrics we need to track and access at anytime on a daily
basis so we can be able to evaluate and analyze our progress towards
achieving our organizational goals and objectives. Look at your business
plan and strategy and your goals and start from there. Make a list of
the top 3 to 5 metrics which describe your business progress at anytime.
These are the metrics you need to have access to at anytime so they will
be first in your reporting system. Depending on your business you might
track dozens or even hundreds of local metrics and drivers but they’ll
all drive, support and explain the success or failure of your top 3-5
metrics. Your top business metrics will have a target (the amount you
are supposed to achieve in a given time period).
has a good resource for defining global vs local metrics and KPIs - you
can take a look
Now, take each of your top metrics one by one and start developing a
short list of variables that are critical to perform in order to
understand why your top metric is successful or not – is it improving or
not, are you going to hit your target or not and more important your
local variables will explain why and why not!
C. Finally, after you finalize your top and local metrics, next
you need to decide what technology, application, tool or platform you’ll
use. The question now is what tool will allow me to track and report the
progress of my KPIs in the most efficient and effective way. Next there
are additional questions you need to ask yourself such as how easy to
use the tool is, how much time will I need to maintain it, what is the
initial cost and ongoing maintenance cost, is there a learning curve,
how many users…
As you go through these steps try not to get distracted and don’t forget
the main point: to have a simple and powerful business analysis
and reporting system that will help you save time
and access your business information at anytime.
Introducing the Business
Reporting Bundle for Excel
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samples and product screenshots (for more info visit the official Mr