How can reporting catch up with an accelerating world?

The art of the possible: overcoming the IT and organizational barriers that stand in the way of more responsive reporting

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Our research shows that reporting leaders will need to manage a range of challenges in the path to more responsive reporting:

  • Fifty percent of respondents are concerned about “the complexity and cost of tackling the legacy IT environment”
  • Forty-two percent of respondents are concerned about “striking the balance between central control and the need to devolve reporting for the local regulatory and compliance environment”

Tackling the legacy IT environment

The need to streamline and centralize the reporting operating model runs up against a significant technology barrier. Devolved business units will have bought or built discrete reporting systems and tools, leading to significant IT fragmentation. The idea of dealing with multiple ERP systems, legacy applications and nonintegrated architecture can seem to be a daunting prospect.

However, innovative new technologies offer a means to overcome these problems. For example, smart robotics tools can pull data from different systems into a single federated data set, including pulling data from different ERP systems or providing a bridge between a single enterprise ERP and important legacy systems.

Striking a balance between central control and local needs

More than 40% of respondents are concerned about the need to strike a balance between central control and the need to devolve reporting so it is attuned to local needs. This suggests a tension between two forces:

  • • The desire to centralize the reporting operating model for greater effectiveness and agility.
  • • The desire to have a devolved organizational structure, facilitating reporting that is tailored to the local regulatory environment.

Today, the dominant organizing principle for corporate reporting is “highly centralized, with everything controlled from head office.”

According to our survey, a third of organizations around the world (33%) currently adopt that organizing principle. However, when we asked respondents how reporting should be organized, the picture changes.

 

Balancing central control and local needs: key actions

Support effective communication and engagement with key stakeholders to build an understanding of how more streamlined and centralized models can serve their needs.

Create a pool of finance business partners who can provide an effective interface between the services provided by centralized reporting functions and the needs of business unit leaders, ensuring the services provided are tailored to local needs and compliant with the local regulatory environment. However, finding enough business partners to fulfill that role is an ongoing challenge (see “Widening the pool of business partners”).

Of course, a more centralized and streamlined operating model is not necessarily in opposition to the desire to meet local needs and regulatory requirements. To know more, download the full report here.