Increasingly automated business accounting processes are yielding results beyond faster transaction processing and driver-led allocations. Reports, particularly those of financial consolidations, are becoming more dynamic and more useful in assisting us with information to make better operational decisions.
Whether you have a complex business structure or not, you’ll benefit by moving your organization toward implementing these newest trends within your financial consolidation and reporting software package.
One of the biggest benefits of artificial intelligence bleeds into the financial statements that we’re creating, the use of natural language. We’ve gotten used to typing nearly full sentences/questions into Google to get our results without having to pull out whatever key word we think it might want, and similar activity is happening within accounting software solutions.
Complex or jargon-filled communication isn’t helpful if we want the readers of consolidated reports to grasp what they need quickly. Plant operations managers have excellent skill sets but their training and experience may not have included a deep understanding of financial terminology. A somewhat humorous byproduct of the transition to the adoption of plain language by the government is how it actually expanded the length of many of its instruction booklets.
Implementing design elements into consolidated financials that include white space, bullets, charts, and graphs aren’t just for prettier reports, they’ve got a good purpose. If you’ve been avoiding updating the look of your financials, you may want to reconsider.
Enhancing a reader’s ability to process information, whether it’s through comparisons or the terminology that is used, benefits us all. The recipients of the financial reports will gain more confidence in understanding the data being conveyed which should also result in them being more accountable with explaining the results and when preparing future budgets.
We’ve become a nation of skimmers. Whether we’re reading the Wall Street Journal or our Twitter feed, we’re glancing at headlines, picking up key words, and moving on to the next thing. Including visual elements in our financial statements (and anything else we produce) helps create more engaged readers who are better able to focus on the key points we want to emphasize and allows them to stop and start reading without losing their place.
- White Space – This gives your eyes a place to rest.
- Bullets – Emphasize key points within a subject area.
- Charts and Graphs – Visuals that show relationships between values or time.
Footnotes and Cross-referencing
What would financial consolidations be without footnotes? A lot shorter, but not quite as useful. Explaining exceptions, references, and providing additional detail is a fundamental need of financial consolidations. How are the entities rolled up? What allocation methods were used? What’s that accrual for potential litigation about? Important stuff.
With digitally viewing financials in the cloud or on your intranet, drilling down to more detail is one of the capabilities that truly enhances a user’s experience by instantly providing supporting detail to the numbers. That, in turn, resolves misunderstandings, discrepancies, and anomalies more quickly, letting people spend more time in working on the present and future rather than reviewing the past.
Implementing the Trends
Adopting these trends in your business will continue your advancement toward making your financial consolidations not just a report that is tossed on a desk after a cursory look but a useful reference tool that builds value with its communication of financial and operational facts.
How can you move to adopt these three trends within your business? Which change will benefit your financial statement users the most?
Businesses of every description rely on the Budget Maestro™ family of software solutions by Centage Corporation to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their business budgeting and planning, financial forecasting, financial consolidation and reporting processes. For more information, take a tour of Budget Maestro, contact Centage, or call 800-366-5111 now.