Financial Reporting and Data Transparency Challenges
Often, the most difficult part of the process is identifying the reporting challenges. Companies can bring structure to the challenges by creating a preliminary list of five to seven categories. While mapping the current processes, they can then place the challenges into one of these categories. The categories may grow, but in the end they can be consolidated for concise articulation. This provides a good high-level summary of the areas that need to be addressed, and a means to communicate them to all interested parties. The categories also allow the capabilities to be more logically focused.
The following are five categories you can start with, based on Oracle’s extensive Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) engagements with hundreds of customers.
COAs — Multiple COAs, alignment issues, field inconsistencies.
Governance — Control of processes, source data, chart of accounts, policies.
Data Integration — Integration to other general ledgers and other source systems.
Manually Intensive Processes — External reporting, management and profitability reporting, drill-down analysis, JE preparation, reconciliations, forecasting.
Technology — Missing, dependency, perpetuates the manual environment.
Certainly there are others categories to include, but on the Pareto Principle (which states that roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes), this is a good place to start.
Options for Addressing Reporting Challenges Discussing the options without first understanding the company’s requirements always poses some risk. In general, however, Enterprise Performance Management processes and technology can provide a few things to consider.
1. For the chart of accounts, the focus should be on reporting as the primary concern, employing a standard global definition. Also, each segment should have only one meaning and definition to avoid confusion.
2. Governance must have centralized oversight, policies and procedures that are well defined, documented and focused on process controls.
3. The areas of Data Integration, Manually Intensive Processes and Technology are influenced by many factors, including risk, funding, resources, market pressures and length of implementation time.
Here is one investment option for addressing the reporting challenges. It leverages the COA and governance when best practices are adopted, starting with data management and then addressing the business processes and the enabling technology.
Employ BI technology to capture, organize and access financial data
Adopt EPM technology to manage data hierarchies
Adopt EPM technology for data quality management
Adopt EPM technology for the monthly closing and reporting processes
Adopt EPM technology for planning and forecasting
Adopt EPM technology for profitability management
Reporting transparency is a challenge at most companies. The best decision involves more than just technology. It begins with understanding your current reporting business process and the inherent challenges, then deciding what the process should be, and finally, identifying the capabilities and a plan to meet the challenges.
Don Baribeau is Senior Director of Industry Strategy and Insight at Oracle.