30 January 2024

We continually encounter a number of issues that negatively impact the operational efficiency of our client’s businesses. One recurring issue is that accounting teams spend considerable time compiling monthly reporting information or management reports, often relying heavily on Excel. While Excel is a powerful tool, its use for inputting or copying data from multiple sources, and then having to manipulate the data, can be time-consuming and error-prone, especially when changes occur in the source data. Ideally, you want to be able to select the reports you require without further manipulation.

Below we outline two efficiency problems and propose solutions for each.

1. Integration issues with accounting systems

The problem – multiple accounting systems that do not seamlessly integrate into the report writing application leading to manual data consolidation

While Xero and its many add-on applications have advanced the ability of accounting systems to integrate with other programs, integration issues can still occur when an industry-specific application provides all the functionality required for that particular industry but, either doesn’t automatically integrate, or doesn’t fully integrate with the accounting program. We see similar scenarios with wage programs. This lack of integration results in having to take all the relevant data from two or more sources and manipulating it in Excel to produce the management reports.

Possible solutions:

  • Regularly assess the integration capabilities of your software – advancement in software is continual, so it pays to keep informed on the topic
  • Ascertain what information outputs the programs can produce and in what format, then explore reporting programs that can import data from various sources and generate customised reports – this may then require only having to download the data into the reporting program and run reports from there. This can resolve the issue where your business software has a basic accounting module which doesn’t have the ability to run the management reports you require
  • Seek advice from software providers, industry peers, or accountants familiar with similar setups

2. Insufficient reporting capabilities in accounting software:

The problem – your accounting system lacks the ability to produce specific reports, or the reports have become more complex over time.

Possible solutions:

  • Investigate whether the software can generate or customise the required reports – it’s important to keep up to date with improvements in your chosen software. At the very least, if the basis of the report can be prepared in the system, and Excel is only used to arrange or slightly manipulate the data, this may make the process more efficient
  • Consider using a separate reporting package for greater efficiency – something worth considering if the above two points don’t get you far

Real-life efficiency gains

For example, a client would spend 5-6 hours each month creating a complex management report in Excel. Their accounting application already had a powerful reporting ability and by getting us to create a customised report for them, their management report could be generated within seconds. This not only saved significant time each month, but also provided flexibility in generating different report versions as needed.

If your monthly reporting function is becoming a burden due to manipulation and cross-checking balances, then it’s time to explore different solutions. It may be easier than you think to address your challenges and streamline your reporting processes, creating efficiencies and freeing up resources for other critical aspects of your operations.

Talk to our experts

Our Business Advisory teams in our Auckland, Hawke’s Bay and Christchurch are able to provide expertise in management reporting and accounting software, if you’d like to explore how we can help, please get in touch.

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