CFO Insight LLC
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Management Reporting to Improve Performance

Management reporting should reinforce the strategy and planning prepared by the executive team.  As such, key accountabilities from the strategic plan should be monitored periodically, depending on the measurement.  Ideally, the strategic plan will focus on major initiatives to improve shareholder value, and will identify specific responsibilities and accountabilities that must be extended throughout the organization.  Report timing and content will depend on the specific measure, and who in the organization structure is responsible for the deliverable.

For example, if a major new product is scheduled for launch in the strategic plan, specific deliverables may be identified for many of the functions, at various levels within the organization.  To be effective, the reporting will measure progress throughout the organization to ensure that the objectives are met.  R&D may have a project timetable with deliverables on the critical path to product launch.  In the detailed R&D project plan, weekly reporting may be required of the Project Manager, while he/she may prepare a monthly report of the department deliverables to the Project Director.  Similar detailed weekly reporting may also be prepared by the Manufacturing, Marketing, and Logistics organizations.  Monthly reporting to the senior levels will contain much less detail, but sufficient information to maintain control of the project.

Reports should be designed to provide enough information to effectively manage the project, and also inform those who are responsible for performance about the results of company efforts.  Effective reporting does not mean voluminous reports with company-wide distributions.  Clear concise reports with distribution limited to those who need to know are the best reports.

Reporting should go well beyond P&L's, and Balance Sheets and include metrics that measure the business drivers (e..g number of new products launched... number of new customers ... qualitative measures of performance such as on-time deliveries etc.).  Management reporting should be designed to measure the right things, with an appropriate measurement, at reasonable time intervals, reported to the right audience, prepared on a consistent basis.  Effective reporting will always be compared to another measure - e.g. plan, or history - and may include graphs to present trend information.  Sometimes numbers clutter, while images and trends can be more easily understood.  Graphs are very effective to present trend information.