Business reporting is essential for organisations of any size. For a very small business, they can be kept very simple. As the business grows, the range of information changes but the focus should always be on providing clear, easy-to-understand information on the key drivers of business success.
The Purpose of Business Reporting
Tracking and gathering quality data on your performance can be critical to the success of your business. This process will set the foundation for your and your team’s decision-making.
There are some basic business reports that will suit any organisation. These would typically include insights like a
- Comparison of performance against budget and the previous year
- Projection of the expected business performance for the year as a whole
- Snapshot of upcoming tax payments as these are major outgoings
- Forecast of cashflow month by month for the next year to get early warning of problems
- Review of where cash has gone for the past month or year-to-date
These are conveniently packaged in Calxa’s Small Business Report bundle kit.
How-To in Calxa
Just go to Reports, Bundles, Create New Bundle to find it. Use this as a starting point to create your own set of reports. It’s simple to remove the ones you don’t need or add in others that are more focussed on your needs. If you have already created your own budget, use that. If not, use the Auto-Budget to get an idea of what the reports look like and how you could use them. The Auto-Budget takes last year’s actuals so it will give you moderately sensible numbers most of the time.
The Importance of Business Reporting
Business reporting is vital for planning and decision-making. When you are plotting the future of your business, the past can be a good guide, but you also need to look forward. For this purpose, budgets mapped to your expectations of future revenue and the associated expenses will help. It is important then to take a full 360-degree view of those projections. The best way of business reporting you can do here is a 3-way forecast. This will give you a projection of not just your income and expenses but also your cashflow and the balance sheet.
By looking at the cashflow forecast as well as the profit, you’ll ensure you can fund your business as it grows and prospers. At this point, it is sensible to also consider different scenarios while doing this. Notably, the Cashflow Scenario Chart is great for looking at the funding needs of each option and helping you choose which is best for your long-term benefits.
Right Level of Detail in your Business Reporting
As a business grows, you will have more to report on. The temptation is to simply add more reports to the monthly management pack.
The result of too many reports is that most of those reports simply don’t get read. You will find they have too much detail and not enough focus.
How-To in Calxa
Use Account Trees to summarise the data in your reports.
When comparing actuals to budgets, or to last year, in a younger business, you want to examine every line for variances. In an established business the finance team can take care of that role and then summarise the information for senior management. Is it enough to know how you’re going for Marketing, Operations, Admin? Discuss with your team what the right level of detail should be. Be prepared for that to change over time as the needs of the business develop.
Insert plenty of charts into your business reporting. If the CEO is reviewing the cashflow forecast, is a quick glance at a chart enough? It might show some ups and downs but as long as the balance stays above zero, the detail is something for the finance team to manage. However, in times of crisis you may want to examine all the numbers, but don’t include them if they are not needed.
Dashboards are great to bring a number of charts together on one page to give a complete view of one area of the business.
Bring Focus to your Reports with KPIs
Speaking of charts, they are a great way to present KPI information. There are some numbers that are vitally important to every organisation. They will be different for each and they will change over time but you should pick 2-4 key numbers you report on each month.
For some businesses, that could be total revenue, for others it is wages compared to revenue. In a retail environment it might be average transaction value, for a hotel, the occupancy rate.
Whatever it is, you are best to track it regularly and include it in your monthly business reporting.
If you are new to the world of KPIs, start with our handy guide and then reach out if you need help.