Strategy and vision, technology and data, and talent will be key to a new future for reporting

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We believe there are three essential areas in creating a new age of more responsive reporting:

Strategy and vision

Operating model change creates uncertainty, particularly for internal stakeholders as well as the finance staff who will be affected by changes. Therefore, a strong and compelling strategy and vision is more important than ever to create certainty, secure the buy-in and engagement of key stakeholders, and provide the foundations of a business case. The optimal operating model for reporting will clearly vary according to a variety of factors, from the organization’s geographic footprint to the demands that a reporting team faces. However, there are a number of areas to consider focusing efforts:

  • Design a target operating model that sets out what reporting services will be retained at headquarters and which will be provided by other arrangements, from physical SSCs to virtual shared services.
  • Put in place a clear and centralized governance and ownership model for data in the new structure.
  • Exploit the potential of smart technologies to automate processes and replace manual workarounds, which are time-consuming and expose the organization to the potential of costly data errors.
  • Prioritize process effectiveness over process efficiency: cutting through complex and bureaucratic processes, removing processes that are redundant, and streamlining and automating existing processes.

Innovative technology and data

Today, reporting teams are simply expected to provide complex data, quickly, and to be able to change course at speed as markets change. But this will only happen if reporting teams have access to the right data and to the right tools. There are a number of areas where action may make a significant impact:

  • Exploit agile and flexible technologies, including cloud and SaaS. SaaS applications, for example, can help reporting teams keep up to speed with new data analytics tools.
  • Future-proof your reporting technology by experimenting with emerging technologies and getting outside perspectives on the disruptive technologies that are emerging on the horizon. Pilot programs that explore the use of emerging technologies — such as blockchain and AI — provide use cases and begin to build skills and capability in the reporting team.

Talent

Reporting teams will need to complement deep financial management and reporting knowledge with new skills in the future, from predictive analytics to scenario modeling to the intersection of AI and finance. Reporting leaders need to reimagine their approach to talent acquisition and skills development. There are a number of priority areas where reporting leaders can focus their efforts:

  • Develop a broader talent management approach for the different profiles in tomorrow’s reporting function. As well as corporate reporting professionals, you will have new team-members — such as data scientists — who will require a different career path and reward structure.
  • Build a consistent enterprise-wide understanding of the business partnering role in reporting and set clear expectations for what success looks like in the role.
  • Rethink your approach to hiring talent beyond the traditional reporting profile, actively recruiting different profiles from different backgrounds, thereby introducing fresh perspectives and new skills, from advanced analytics to digital know-how.
  • Build understanding of how smart machines will interact with, and complement, the abilities of talented reporting staff, and provide reassurance at a time when people will be concerned about the impact of robotics and AI on their jobs.

For a detailed report on key findings by the market, download the full report here.