How Can CFOs Get All of the Finance Function on the ‘Same Page’?


It is fascinating to note how often the corporate reporting process stumbles at the last hurdle. Despite the considerable effort expended on managing data quality, improving collaboration and honing the financial consolidation process many of the hard won efficiency gains are frittered away because historic approaches to the process ignore the vital last step of final report creation.

Admittedly, high quality document production does not sit easily with group reporting applications.  And that’s because the typical finance function is expert at marshalling transactions but less accomplished at managing document flows.
The scope for error as structured (numbers) and unstructured (narrative) information is transcribed from reporting system to Microsoft PowerPoint or Word or from the group consolidation system to a file format acceptable to external printers (perhaps Adobe InDesign) is significant. Furthermore, the risk of error is even greater these days as information is expected to be disseminated more widely and in a variety of different report formats and media for different stakeholders, for example, a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) report produced on the web, an environmental report produced as an addendum to the Final Report and Accounts in hard copy, or a PDF of the current month’s board pack distributed to directors by email.

A further strain is the need to maintain version control over documents as well as strict security and confidentiality over the information they contain; a position that is exacerbated by fractured systems, a convoluted process and the increasing number of people involved in the final stages of document production.  So how can a modern finance function automate and streamline the process?
The key to process improvement, is a unified environment which inextricably links the consolidation engine to document production capability, so that numbers and narrative can flow seamlessly between them.  But that’s not all. It is vitally important to recognise that report production is a highly collaborative process with lots of ‘moving parts’, for example, documents and people with different skill sets and needs.  And just for good measure there is lots of time pressure as well.
But help is at hand. Corporate Performance Management (CPM) vendors at the leading edge of their game have developed so called Disclosure Management Systems (Collaborative Disclosure Management CDM in the case of Tagetik) that provide streamlined and automated processes for collaboration, workflow, compliance and control of the entire disclosure cycle.
This means that in the frenzy to prepare the final version of a published set of financial statements (or indeed any financial document) that the corporate finance function can ensure that late consolidation adjustments, or amendments to the notes to accounts are not only reflected appropriately in the group reporting system but also flow through to final documents in whatever media they are rendered.  And anyone involved in the process has access to the latest versions of the documents and can see what has changed. 

Perhaps for the first time, everyone is connected to each other and connected to the process in their charge.  Everyone is indeed on the ‘same page’.

 

Tagetik for Collaborative Disclosure Management

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