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)

A Management Operating System

I would like to introduce a framework for thinking about Enterprise Performance Management and Business Intelligence. The genesis of this framework came from my days working at Hyperion Solutions (later acquired by Oracle Corp.). It’s been called a management “operating system” for your company because, like the operating system of your computer, it helps govern input and output and manage what applications (or decisions) are being run and helps make the most effective use of resources (memory, disk space, CPU cycles). You can start anywhere on this closed-loop process to tell the management operating system story, and today I’ll share Gather – the most common part of the cycle, with you.

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

A Management Operating System

Gather – While you are busy running your business (Execution, which means service customers, making products, selling in markets), you are generating lots of data. You gather that data and transform it into useful information (according to its context) and deliver it to the right people (according to impact and areas of responsibility).

This is the place where managers consume reports about the results of the business. It’s where they answer the question “where are we, right now?” Depending on your industry and your business, there are generally two kinds of reports: mostly financial and mostly operational. The trend has been to combine financial and operational information on one report, which is a good idea since the two are interrelated: financial investments help drive operational results, and effective operations help contribute to financial performance.

Reports are delivered in a variety of formats with a variety of tools and can be categorized as:

  • Canned (static) reports
  • Ad hoc or interactive reports
  • Dashboards and scorecards
  • Spreadsheets

Reports give their readers a snapshot of what results have been produced to date to help them gauge how close to their goals and targets they are.

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)

Choice

I was very happy to be selected as a delegate to the TEDxToronto 2013 Conference being held in September in my original home town.debate

The theme of the conference this year is “The Choices We Make.”  And while the conference presenters may focus on individual choice and social choice, I’ll be participating with my “organizational choice” hat on.  I’m very interested in how companies choose among an infinite number of options and scenarios on how to deploy resources, where to focus assets, and what day-to-day actions to take in order to further their strategic objectives and performance outcomes.

I like to think that nirvana is where a company has implemented a process of rigorous debate, supported by a culture of Read more of this post

8 Principles of Enterprise Performance Management

This is a list of what most of my clients tell me they want.  I propose that this list is exactly what EPM delivers.

So unless I hear otherwise, these are the 8 principles of enterprise performance management:

  1. We have a lot of data, we’re getting more every minute, and we want to use it to compete better;8 robots
  2. To use all that data, we want to gather it and transform it so that it makes sense;
  3. We want new insights into our business, based on the facts gleaned from the data;
  4. We want to know what levels of performance are possible in our industry, for our business, in the future; Read more of this post

Enterprise Planning

There are many kinds of plans in any organization. The kind of plan depends on what the plan is trying to accomplish, who the audience is, and how frequent and granular the plan needs to be. Here are the most common types of EPM plans:

paper whiteboard
Strategic Planning

  • Annual budget
  • Long-range plan/strat plan
  • Cash-flow forecast
  • Balance sheet plan

Finance Planning

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