We ran a not-for-profit webinar Automate Board Reporting. It focused on how to find time-savings each month when doing this repetitive task. In this post, we want to delve into the topic and share some further ideas.

 

Why do we have board reports?

Board reporting has a narrow task and role. The outcome is simply to hold the executive team accountable for their actions.

It needs to answer some simple questions:

  • Where have we been?
  • Where are we going?
  • Are we on track? Are we following the plan?

 

Who Decides on Content

Monthly board reports vary from organisation to organisation. The drivers directing the content of these reports can come from different corners within the organisation, including:

  • The board
  • The CEO
  • The Finance Manager

 

The Board

Certainly, a pro-active and dynamic board will have a strong input in what they need to absolve their responsibilities.

They’re time dedicated to the organisation is short and to the point, so the reports need to reflect this. They make important decisions in a short period of time.

Ultimately the buck stops with them.

 

The CEO

CEOs hold a more delicate role, balancing their own requirement of getting the full picture so they can answer board questions at a whim.

But they also need to represent the organisation in the right (best) light with snapshot information to empower the board.

 

The Finance Manager

No doubt, the inhouse Finance Officer has the ultimate opportunity to guide the powers to be.

Being pro-active here, they may employ numerous strategies to incite fruitful conversations. It starts with building credibility with a set of professional looking reports building some powerful allies within the management and the board.

Once foundations are laid an introduction of new and meaningful reports can be a great way of developing the viewpoint and the vision of the board and its individual members.

Ultimately delivering the information on which good decisions can be based, should be the end-goal for each party.

 

Selecting the Right Reports

The reports will need to answer some elementary questions. Here are our favourites and we’ve added some reasoning behind it.

 

Unspent Budget

This report shows actuals and budgets for the month and year-to-date and the full year budget as well as what is left to spend. This is best done at an organisation level. Reserve the more detailed of the unspent budgets for program managers.

 

This report provides answers to:

  • Are we generally going in the right direction?
  • Is all under control?

 

P&L Forecast

It shows actuals for year-to-date and projections for rest of the year. It is important to know early if the organisation is running into trouble and allows to make decisions based on that.

 

This report provides answers to:

  • How does the year look so far?
  • Are we on track, how does it compare to the budgeted amounts.

 

Cashflow Forecast Chart

This visual report allows to see if there are problems coming up. The board can ensure that someone is acting on this. In cases of insolvencies, the board, similar to company directors, holds the final responsibility.

 

The question this report answers is simple:

  • Can we pay our bills when they’re due?

 

Cashflow Forecast Report

This is the same as the previous chart – just not as visual but full of numbers.

We see this report as optional, the preference is the chart unless a Board request this. If you deliver this, again lean towards a summarised version rolled up at a higher level.

 

Business Unit Summary

It holds department managers to account. Give the board just an overview – the treasurer may request a more detailed version to tick off the boxes and answer any concerns.

Providing this report with one line for each cost centre or program, is a great and quick overview.

 

This report provides answers to:

  • How do our programs, activities, departments stack up?
  • Are any in trouble?

 

Wages to Turnover

At this point we suggest including a report on a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) like Wages to Turnover.

This KPI compares Wages to Income or Wages against Total Expenses and shows the trends over time. KPIs are good indicator for potential future problems.

This report provides the answer to:

  • Are staff costs in proportion to our operational spending?

 

Feeling overwhelmed by your board report? Then read our article about Three Things to Include in Your Board Report to help you simplify and mange your reporting better.

Doing this in Calxa

To get started just wants a bit of a plan along the lines:

  1. Use Report Bundles to batch these reports. If you’re only just getting started, there is a pre-built bundle called the Not-for-Profit Bundle Kit.
  2. Create Workflows that updates actuals to the latest data from your accounting system. Then set another one that automatically emails reports to board members at a chosen time. Maybe schedule the report bundle to your own inbox a few days prior. This allows you to cast an eye over the reports first and vet their validity.
  3. Add your Story and Annotations: Now is an opportunity to write up a story and make some annotations and add this to the bundle.

 

So that’s all there is to it. Simple right. Think about the hours you spend each month doing this in spreadsheets and then visualise setting this up once and then just watch your inbox, check and sit back. The time-savings can be added up to hours each month.

 

Watch this webinar recording to see a first-hand view of how you automate board reports in Calxa.