The dictionaries tell us management reports are sources of business intelligence that help organisational leaders make better informed and more accurate decisions.

In practice, these reports can originate in any of a company’s operations – including sales, HR, accountancy, treasury, premises and marketing – with subjects, formats and levels of detail varying widely.

A management report on an organisation’s overall financial performance in the year-to-date, for example, may contain information on:

  • Gross profit and margin
  • Net profit and margin
  • Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, plus the margin
  • Revenue
  • Other income
  • Operating expenses
  • Other expenses

A management report on the investor relations position of a quoted company could carry details of:

  • Return on assets
  • Return on equity
  • Debt to equity ratio
  • Share price
  • Price to earnings ratio
  • Working capital ratio

All fine in theory. Unfortunately, however, in the real world, management reports are only as useful as their preparation and presentation allow. Ensuring they reach adequate standards in these respects can be a major headache for the staff producing them.

This is especially so where these employees must grapple with common complications like:

  • Relying on methods from the last century, such as two-dimensional spreadsheets
  • Having enough on their plates already, though doing the work that keeps their organisations in business, before they can even think about reporting on it
  • Constantly receiving requests from management for additional information or changed reporting formats, for example.

Five routes to reporting rationality

The good news is that automating the management reporting production and analysis process using our state-of-the-art technology can improve it massively for all concerned, in numerous ways. Five of our relevant solutions are:

  • SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC). This is a market-leading set of software capabilities supporting the creating, managing and end-to-end delivery of financial processes, including budgeting, planning, forecasting and consolidation. It also supports financial, management and statutory reporting.
  • SAP BPC Managed Cloud. This was the world’s first cloud-based version of SAP BPC – which we had extended via SAP Analytics Cloud’s advanced dashboards, predictive analysis functions and business intelligence capabilities – when we launched it in 2017. It enables businesses to deploy SAP BPC with unprecedented speed and minimal effort, using our fully functional templated content, you can literally go live in a day.
  • IFRS 16 for SAP BPC. International Financial Reporting Standard 16, updating lease accounting, took effect at the beginning of 2019. This unique solution takes the time, effort and worry out of complying for users with any form of SAP BPC installation.
  • SAP Analytics Cloud. Incorporating features including big data and business intelligence, this is a single powerful package offering every analytics capability, which can be working with a company’s data in just one hour. Users can utilise SAP Analytics Cloud to discover, visualise, analyse, simulate, plan, predict, report and collaborate, for example. Providing an integrated, effective, enjoyable and engaging experience, the application can be used across an organisation’s roles and devices, including mobile platforms.
  • SAP Platform as a Service (PaaS). This platform uniquely enables customers to combine the benefits of public and private clouds. It therefore allows organisations to use an on-premise private cloud for hosting sensitive or critical items, such as management reports, and the third-party public cloud for hosting less vital resources. Compatible with SAP and all other enterprise software, the solution allows us to host and manage organisations’ SAP applications on our own cloud services, those of respected third parties or customers’ existing cloud or in-house servers.

Ten top benefits of using SAP reporting tools

Our technology offers at least 10 key advantages over manual management reporting methods:

  • Collaboration: The solutions can facilitate easy working between an organisation’s people and teams, integrating seamlessly with virtually any source systems.
  • Consolidation: Our tools can consolidate data in a controlled way, converting amounts submitted in different currencies, for example, to produce a single version of the truth across a business. They can perform checks and balances of reconciliations as they go, ensuring completeness and accuracy, too.
  • Flexibility: These products allow customers to specify the level of detail they require, from dense to top-line. They can also easily produce alternative versions of management reports, using different accounting principles, for example.
  • Reliability: The solutions’ proven robustness and reliability, alongside the basing of some of them in the cloud, can allow reporting processes to be owned by business users, with little or no involvement needed from IT specialists.
  • Appearance: Our tools can provide reports in various clear and visually appealing formats. These can include graphics, thanks to SAP Analytics Cloud’s top-quality dashboards, for example, which allow executives to assimilate how things stand at a glance, rather than spend time interpreting masses of detail. Our solutions also permit high-quality standardisation in the look and feel of documents across a company, where required.
  • Analysis: Fully customisable and able to adapt to changing business needs, our products can allow users to analyse real-time data, using common reporting interfaces like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, the web and other business intelligence tools. They can also facilitate easy comparisons with an organisation’s past performance or that of competitors and help identify practices that are working well or badly, for example. Our technology additionally enables organisations to set realistic new targets and benchmarks, perhaps after exploiting its ability to simulate and evaluate multiple future scenarios in minutes.
  • Speed: Our solutions can shorten organisations’ management reporting cycles, enabling them to react quicker and more astutely to their fast-changing circumstances. They also demand much less compiling time, freeing employees to focus on their core value-adding activities.
  • Errors and queries: By largely automating management reporting, the tools can greatly reduce the scope for human errors and the time it takes to identify and resolve them. They can also provide clear audit trails, allowing organisations to trace data back to source systems.
  • Compliance: Our products can easily produce management reports forming the basis for future external reporting, meeting legal and regulatory compliance demands.
  • Confidentiality: The range can allow businesses to save management reports offline, completely disconnected from their databases, and permit access based on users’ individual rights, for example.

Farfetch confirm automating management reporting is the height of fashion

One of many Opal Wave customers very glad they took our advice on updating their management reporting methods is Farfetch, the world’s leading online end-to-end luxury fashion retail platform and marketplace.

In 2018, Farfetch agreed to migrate their management reporting from an older enterprise resource planning system, augmented by tools including Microsoft Excel, to SAP BPC version 11, running on our unique SAP PaaS solution.

Roughly 20 Farfetch staff now use the solution for management reporting. SAP BPC helps with tasks such as compiling profit and loss accounts and balance sheets, reviewing actual results against expected outcomes in key performance areas, and monitoring headcount.

Nick Cooper, Farfetch Group Transformation Manager (Systems), says: “We’re very happy with the way the whole solution has performed so far, as it’s working very effectively and delivering all the required outputs. Everything has been done to our satisfaction.

“We make fewer errors, as the involvement of humans has been reduced, and our reporting is faster. The level of analysis we need is also easier to achieve. We run a monthly analysis of some key HR metrics, for example, which was possible before, but much tougher.

“In addition, SAP BPC gives us the required transparency and data security – people who need to know the numbers can see them easily and those who don’t can’t get access to them. The system also gives us a single, sound version of the truth across the organisation, which is important.”

Nick says the solution is also hugely intuitive to use, much easier than similar systems he has come across.

You can read our full Farfetch case study here.