8 Report Types for Better Information Delivery

An important distinction to keep in mind while designing and building your management operating system is the classification of information and reports in the Gather process.

Classifying helps you assign the right process, tools, data, and resources to information, reports, and the Gather process. Without an overt classification, you can end up delivering information inefficiently, or worse, incorrectly.

Here are some common classifications:

  • Financial. Usually relates to items found on the Profit and Loss statement, balance sheet, or cash flow. Content can be at a detailed or summary level.

    Enterprise Performance Management, A Management Operating System, EPM, Ron Dimon

    A Management Operating System

  • Operational. Usually contains information about volumes, units, headcount, inventory levels, and so on. Can also be at a detailed or summary level.
  • Executive. Typically cross-functional information at a summary level.
  • Sustainability. Information relating to environmental, health and safety, and community and social issues.
  • Management or Internal. Includes flash reports. Typically contains information managers need to make business decisions before being transformed for external consumption.
  • Statutory or External. Information that has been transformed according to GAAP or other regulatory standards.
  • Canned. Standard reports that are used over and over again.
  • Ad Hoc. Usually one-time information that’s situational and does not need to be retrieved later— although if found useful across different audiences and at different times can quickly find its way into a canned report.

You can learn more about EPM and how it can help your organization build a common business process to execute its strategy in my book Enterprise Performance Management Done Right: An Operating System for Your Organization (Wiley CIO)

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8 Ingredients to Turn Data into Useful Information

9-3-2014 blog image

Data Consumption Is Undergoing a Major Shift

The most common process in the management cycle is Gather. Organizations spend an incredible amount of time gathering data and trying to turn it into meaningful reports, dashboards, scorecards, and spreadsheets. In other words, turning numbers into knowledge.

The purpose of all this activity is to find out where you are performing well and where you need to make some changes. However, with the plethora of data we’re getting, and with the speed at which change happens and transactions occur, it’s getting harder to find out exactly where you stand. How, when, where, and why we consume data is undergoing a major shift.

To turn raw data into useful information that you interact with, you need at least the following ingredients:

  • A purpose or business question to answer (e.g., “What are our sales by region?” or “Who are our top customers?”)
  • A point of view for the consumer of the information (board, corporate, strategic business unit, line of business, division, team, territory, external)
  • Built-in relationships— hierarchies, dimensions including time periods, apples-to-apples like currency translations, and context— year-to-date, actual vs. plan, etc.
  • The right level of detail (according to business questions and consumer)
  • The right metrics— whether it’s a financial account like revenue, or an operational driver like headcount or a key performance indicator (KPI) or a ratio like productivity, it has to fit the business question
  • Timelines— the information has to be delivered be delivered and consumed in time to do something about it
  • Some comparative information— a variance to the plan or to a prior period or a benchmark
  • The right way to deliver the information to the consumer (the right tool and platform)

You can learn more about EPM and how it can help your organization build a common business process to execute its strategy in my book Enterprise Performance Management Done Right: An Operating System for Your Organization (Wiley CIO)

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