Narrative Reporting: Excel and Reporting Tools Come Up Short

 

Tagetik has always invested significant resources in keeping up with evolving reporting requirements. Because of our international customer base, we have long helped companies meet a very wide range of reporting requirements. While providing accurate and auditable financial reporting is obviously the core requirement for finance the demands on finance have significantly increased and maintaining control and confidence in the accuracy and consistency while meeting increasing demands is a growing challenge for finance organizations.

 

As part of our ongoing research related to reporting in the office of finance, we recently conducted a survey of finance managers and executives with reporting responsibility to obtain objective input on the most recent reporting trends and challenges. Survey respondents came from all industry segments. 31% percent of respondents worked for organizations with $1B or more in revenue, 29% worked for organizations with revenues ranging from $300M to $999M in revenue, and 39% were with organizations with $299M or less in revenue.

 

 

The Narrative is Critical

One of the report’s key findings of our research is that most financial reports today include significant amounts of narrative.

29% of respondents indicated that, on average, their reports were evenly distributed between narrative and financial information, 18% of respondents said that their reports contained more narrative than financial information.

In part, the increasing use of narrative is a result of internal pressures on finance for detailed insight and strategic guidance. Increasingly complex reporting regulations requiring more detailed explanations have also driven adoption. 

 

Face the challenges of modern financial reporting with Tagetik

 

Narratives Create Risk

While a strong narrative can increase the value and effectiveness of financial reports, narratives are notoriously difficult and time-consuming to manage without automation. Therefore, it’s concerning to see that while the importance of narrative is becoming pervasive, our survey shows that it remains a very manual process for most finance organizations. Often the narratives are compiled via emails and copy/pasted at the last minute, which not only is time consuming but also creates risk of errors or inconsistency of narratives or formatting. In most cases same narrative is often used in multiple reports, documents and presentations yet must be manually developed and maintained in multiple places. Finance organizations should be looking at narrative the same way they look at data, they should be looking to reduce redundancy and increase control, visibility and accountability of narratives just as they do with data.

 

 

Compliance and Big Data Require More Narrative

What’s more is that compliance demands are at an all time high and in the age of Big Data, there’s more and more information to report back to stakeholders. More and more information to sift through, consolidate and discern. The explosion in the amount of data to sift through makes the narrative even more important in helping stakeholders see through the noise and for the finance organization to tell the story behind the numbers.

 

 

A Relatively Easy Problem to Address

Our survey results show that most companies continue to rely too heavily on Excel and often struggle with combining the numbers and narrative necessary for today’s reporting demands. I highly recommend taking a look at these short demo videos that concisely explain how our unique Collaborative Office solution addresses this challenge.

 

 

Using Collaborative Office for Board Reporting (2 minute video)

Deeper Dive Look at Collaborative Office Capabilities (7 minute video)

 

Face the challenges of modern financial reporting with Tagetik

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