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Digital Reporting in a Crisis

Turbulent and uncharted times require innovative solutions.

With the COVID pandemic impacting all our lives, the challenge for finance teams is to provide timely and accurate reports for both internal management consumption and strategic planning yet provide insightful communication to external stakeholders and analysts. All potentially delivered through a virtual workforce and untried collaborative remote process..

In addition, there is an ongoing requirement for regulatory compliance reporting and the new requirement for ESMA ESEF compliance.

However, the current crisis may be viewed as a catalyst for change within the reporting cycle, moving to a digital process and format to drive efficiency, enable collaborative and remote working, and yet deliver greater detail and insight.

Financial reporting on a monthly, annual or regulatory basis, has been driven by a manual process and either a paper or PDF output format, with the historical limitations and efficiencies. But, we are now in the digital age and should perhaps take advantage of the opportunities this now facilitates.

Businesses are now much more complex, and reporting has evolved to provide detailed information in a much more structured way, especially for external reporting and analyst consumption. Yet the report preparation process has largely remained unchanged over this time, with teams sharing a multiplicity of spreadsheets, lack of process flow management and manual cut and paste of figures from back end systems. In an environment where we cannot interact traditionally, we are challenged by processes that rely on such interaction, so sharing and collaborating digitally becomes critical.

The good news for Finance teams is that there are software solutions available which:

  • Integrate seamlessly with back end data systems such as ERP, Consolidation, and Budgeting and Planning systems to allow for data flow between systems for the dynamic update, removing the need for manual intervention via spreadsheets.
  • Manage process flow for sharing information and reviewing using workflow, allowing for direct interaction with report content.
  • Collaborate effectively via the use of email notifications and interactive commentary.

So, far from reporting being a burden on the Financial team, it is an opportunity for Finance to start on the journey of becoming a partner to the business. With the effort to produce reports partially automated and very much more efficient, time originally spent on report composition can be spent on analysis and narrative reporting to provide strategic insight to the business. This can be provided to both internally and externally facing reports. The additional takeaway would be that external reports developed through this process would comply with regulatory requirements, such as ESMA ESEF.

In this time of challenge for business reporting and risk communication, now is a good time to explore report evolution and the advantages digital can provide.

For more insight into the ESMA solutions offered by Certent, take a look at our ESMA insight page

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