CFO: Reporting and Growth Efficiency

November 3, 2021 | 5 Mins David Daly

Operational reporting and growth efficiency are key priorities for CFOs at multinational companies around the world. Reporting has a major role to play in strategic development and growth efficiency, so it is really essential that every CFO has full and easy access to all the operational reporting they need for informed decision making.

In this article, we will examine the reasons why essential operational reporting  is growing in importance in the role of the CFO, especially if they wish to focus on a journey to growth efficiency.

1 What does a CFO look for when it comes to quality operational reporting?

Quality reporting has always been key when it comes to informed decision making and many CFOs report having experienced problems in the past when it comes to 2 things: accessing the data they need for this reporting and viewing the reporting in a digestible format. Without the data, you cannot put together accurate reports and without a suitable technology stack, you will struggle to put together the reports in a meaningful way that makes sense to multiple stakeholders. Access ideally needs to be in the form of self-serve, so they are not relying on other people to produce these reports and a strong level of data standardization really helps when producing reports in a standardized and repeatable format.

Timing is another issue- the pace at which high growth companies are operating means decisions must be made in a fluid and agile manner- CFOs can no longer wait until the middle of the month for a standard month end accounting or operational report. Similarly, a team of financial operations executives find that waiting three to four business days for general ledger reporting to be compiled manually on global payroll figures is unsatisfactory. This lack of speed is unsustainable. Organizations who have invested in technology that can produce this level of reporting faster, are immediately at an advantage.

Another quality CFOs look for is consolidated figures and comprehensive reporting- while high level is very helpful for a general overview, more and more these days, chief financial officers find themselves drilling down into the specifics, looking for the deeper meaning-what they really need is reporting that tells a complete story, reporting that enables them to understand why something is happening, not just what is happening.

When these things are in place, then they are in value-add territory, which is key. They can then understand the story behind the data, make educated assumptions and recommendations. This is where every CFO wants to be when it comes to operational reporting.

2 What value does comprehensive reporting offer to a CFO in a scaling business environment?

Immediate value comes from bigger picture knowledge combined with a firm grasp of the detail. Being aware of the basic figures will only get you so far, but when CFOs can drill down into comprehensive detail, understanding immediately grows, and you feel informed.

Comprehensive reporting can also help to move a CFO beyond simply historical scorekeeping- historical data is a basic minimum requirement and not very future focused. CFOs really need to minimize the time spent piecing together historical figures from a previous month and focus attention on future growth efficiency leveraging the data to support decisions around future strategy

Many have the firm belief these days is that historical data reporting should be fully automated so that it absorbs minimal time. They want automated reporting so that they can get these figures quickly and easily, understand what has happened in the previous month and then quickly move on to analyzing the figures which tell the bigger picture story and help make decisions about the future.

When it comes to global payroll data and reporting, they want to be able to review payroll expense across entities, geographies and business units to get an immediate handle on the figures. Then go deeper and look at country cost comparisons reports, to see what story they’re telling and what learnings can be taken from them.

Compliance is also a key concern for any CFO today so reporting needs to be much more comprehensive than it was in the past to provide reassurance that a company is compliant in each country they do business in. High level or generic reporting is no longer sufficient to provide this proof or reassurance, and therefore it is no longer acceptable, especially for a scaling organization.

3 Why does global payroll reporting matter?

Immediate value comes from bigger picture knowledge combined with a firm grasp of the detail. Being aware of the basic figures will only get you so far, but when CFOs can drill down into comprehensive detail, understanding immediately grows, and you feel informed.

Comprehensive reporting can also help to move a CFO beyond simply historical scorekeeping- historical data is a basic minimum requirement and not very future focused. CFOs really need to minimize the time spent piecing together historical figures from a previous month and focus attention on future growth efficiency leveraging the data to support decisions around future strategy

Many have the firm belief these days is that historical data reporting should be fully automated so that it absorbs minimal time. They want automated reporting so that they can get these figures quickly and easily, understand what has happened in the previous month and then quickly move on to analyzing the figures which tell the bigger picture story and help make decisions about the future.

When it comes to global payroll data and reporting, they want to be able to review payroll expense across entities, geographies and business units to get an immediate handle on the figures. Then go deeper and look at country cost comparisons reports, to see what story they’re telling and what learnings can be taken from them.

is also a key concern for any CFO today so reporting needs to be much more comprehensive than it was in the past to provide reassurance that a company is compliant in each country they do business in. High level or generic reporting is no longer sufficient to provide this proof or reassurance, and therefore it is no longer acceptable, especially for a scaling organization.

4 What does it mean when this kind of reporting is not readily available?

For any CFO, growth efficiency is all about speed, agility and responsiveness. To achieve this, they need access to reporting as without reporting, everything slows down, and too much time is taken up with searching for data and manually putting together reports. It can be a very frustrating experience because this is low value work and inhibits a CFO’s ability to drive the business forward and apply strategic value.

So, there will always be an interest in any technology, that speeds this process up and allows a CFO and the finance operations team to focus their energies on the analysis, which is really what drives the decision-making and subsequently the growth efficiency. It is not uncommon for a lack of reporting to result in poor investment decisions and significant operational challenges, so it is really crucial to get it right.

There is also the issue of international compliance and regulation, quality reporting has a major role to play in getting this right too. Compliance fines are to be avoided at all costs-the multinational is ultimately responsible for global compliance and the book really stops at the door of the CFO, so if there is any compliance issue related to payroll data then this is the person who must explain how it happened and why. This is a bit of a nightmare scenario so any technology or reporting tools that help them manage compliance and mitigate this risk are to be welcomed.

 

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