In any organisation, a board of directors play a crucial role in driving the company’s success. They bring critical thinking and talent coupled with experience and expertise. However, to play their role well and exercise good judgement, the board needs to be empowered with the right insights.
In preparation for board meetings, different departments produce reports, insights and analysis to evaluate the company’s performance and inform decisions.
For the finance team at the South Australia Cricket Association (SACA), these reports took hours to create each month and engagement with the output was declining.
To better engage senior stakeholders, they looked to update their reporting pack to be more forward focussed. They also wanted to streamline and automate as much of the manual effort required to compile the suite of standard charts and tables contained within the reporting pack.
SACA had recently implemented Adaptive Insights to be their one stop shop for planning, reporting and analysis so it made perfect sense to leverage the Adaptive Insights OfficeConnect module to create their monthly reporting pack.
What is Adaptive Insights OfficeConnect?
OfficeConnect is a unique feature within the Adaptive Insights platform to prepare powerful and fast reporting within Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, leveraging data contained within your Adaptive Insights forecasts. By leveraging forecast data in this way, reports are always based on the latest actuals, plans and forecast data.
Management Accountant at SACA, Jarrod Thorn, shares the process of how they went about scoping, getting buy-in and implementing OfficeConnect for effective board reporting.
Throughout the implementation of SACA’s quarterly rolling forecast (QRF) system, senior stakeholders were engaged and informed on the quarterly rolling forecast planning methodology and the need for change in the planning space.
There was no doubt that the change in methodology would take some time to embed within the business and with the senior stakeholders, moving toward a more forward looking monthly reporting pack was a key part of that transition.
The goals of the finance team in upgrading SACA’s reporting pack were:
- Reduce production time of monthly reports
- Be engaging and easily understood – take away tables and put in visuals to tell the story where possible
- Focus on the future – change the conversation and have forward looking dialogue
To figure what would work, the finance team developed mock-ups and pictures of how they wanted the reports to look like. This took some time and a number of iterations to produce, but the result was a comprehensive suite of options which the team could consider to deliver the best outcome.
3. Collaboration and refinement
The finance team reviewed the ideas and went through numerous iterations to land on the right visuals. The goal was to ensure each visual was easy to understand, told a clear story providing context, and reported on just 1 – 2 key metrics so it would be easy to comprehend.
The latter was key as they were reporting to senior stakeholders who needed to receive a simple message when it came to the reporting of financial information.
The prototype report was one that graphically presented current period performance, full year performance, material changes in forecast results, and tracking against long term KPIs.
After the finance team had finalised the prototype, it was presented to SACA’s Finance and Audit Committee to obtain endorsement.
Given the extensive engagement during the quarterly rolling forecast implementation, this discussion was an extension of the dialogue that had taken place over the previous 18 months.
As a result the engagement around the change in reporting output and ultimate endorsement of the reporting direction was relatively straightforward.
With clarity and endorsement on the report format, SACA then engaged QMetrix to assist in building the reports using OfficeConnect in line with best practice principals.
By being able to clearly scope the report requirements, QMetrix were able to provide a sharp quote, and build and deliver the report quickly – the report was on budget and finalised within just 3 weeks.
Were SACA’s objectives met? Yes.
- Reduce production time: The finance team now refreshes reports in minutes, saving a significant amount of time per month. From there, they add contextual comments to provide further meaning and insights.
- Engaging and easily understood: The monthly reporting pack now delivers the financials in a more visually engaging way, allowing senior stakeholders to grasp the bigger picture more easily. The reports are sparking a higher level of engagement and more conversation about the company’s performance and actions.
- Focus on the future: The report graphics have been set up to provide a larger focus on the future. As a result, the reports are generating more of the right conversations, focussing on forward looking conversations about where the organisation is headed and decisions it needs to make, rather than an overemphasis on history.
With the new Board Reports powered by Adaptive Insights OfficeConnect, SACA’s finance team is able to present beautiful visuals which engage and leverage their board’s expertise, tell a story behind the numbers, and empower them to make data driven decisions.
As Jarrod puts it, “Moving to rolling forecasts was a big change for the business. We reflected that in our monthly reports – moving from having a history lesson, we started to look forward. We now have the options to discuss what’s changing, how that’s impacting SACA’s financial performance and the decisions SACA needs to make to adapt. Adaptive Insights has greatly enabled that”.