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Management accounting analyzes, plans and informs. This requires a reliable database, but also flexibility in designing reports, presentations and dashboards. These requirements often can´t be combined in a software system. The discussion about the authorization of local reporting solutions, that complement central standard systems, is currently up-to-date. The article reports from practice and conveys the advantages and disadvantages of local solutions.

Central versus local reports

When I wrote ‘local report solutions’, I could already hear the prompt “think big or go home”. It seems that the management accounting is focusing on big data and the big BI solution. But what is the true situation? What experiences we make in our projects?

The utopia of the one system into which all the data flows and from which rapidly different reports can be generated to steer the entire enterprise, is the driving force of many positive, important developments. But the resource expenditure behind this idea ist enormous. This type of reporting is made practical by a high degree of standardization and continuity. Data collection and storage benefits from the general conditions.

However, the reports and presentations that provide centralized systems are limited by these conditions. They are not very variable and can only help partially in answering non-standardized questions.

Automated, local reporting tools can overcome these communication hurdles.

Therefore they are a flexible and cost-effective alternative. From our projects we know that a mix of central and local reporting solutions is the best course of action.

The local solution isn´t so local

At this point it is important to split the management accounting IT. The topics of data collection and storage are to be separated from the communication of the results, the reporting. Collecting data in isolated applications must be called into question for many reasons. Each BI vendor can name these reasons. However, automated local tools solve many issues when creating reports and presentations.

Strictly speaking, local reporting tools are hybrids. The data they access is usually from centralized systems. The reporting is done in front-end tools that are individually designed and managed locally. The distribution of reports can also be automated and is not particularly limited.

Sind lokale Reporting-Lösungen sinnvoll? Blogbeitrag auf chartisan.com

The right time for individual reporting tools

Use custom reporting tools when management often needs to change report variants. They make sense if structured data from the DataWarehouse are to be supplemented with unstructured, individual comments and explanations.

In strategic management, variable reporting and presentation tools make sense in every case. But operational management also raises questions that can only partially be answered by centralized reports.

Resource requirements

There is a catch. As a rule, locally generated reports can´t created quickly. The efficient creation of local reporting tools usually requires a very long learning period.

The design and planning process requires fewer reconciliations and compromises between the report creator and the report recipient. That’s positive. The technical and creative implementation requires a lot of know-how. Specialized knowledge is needed that has little to do with management accounting in a business sense.

Knowledge of the data connection, automation and programming are essential. If the visual presentation and presentation should be efficient and at high quality standards, an above-average user knowledge is necessary.

An idea, if own resources are missing

But even without a resource pool of its own, the advantages of local reporting tools are easy to exploit. The development of such tools is an individual service for which there are different solution providers on the market. These are not software providers, but experienced service providers with special management accounting know-how and relevant experience in the field of reporting.

Good service providers provide a very high quality standard that meets your individual conceptual and technical requirements.

They work directly with the specialist departments in manageable project periods and deliver immediately ready-to-use solutions.

chartisan is one of these solution providers. Our focus is the Management Information Design with IBCS® and the technical implementation with the possibilities of Microsoft Office (Excel, PowerPivot, Power Query, PowerPoint) and Power BI.

Advantages and disadvantages at a glance

You have little time? Therefore is here a clear plus-minus list:

+ Local reporting tools allow variable reporting and presentations.

+ These reporting tools can efficiently display structured and unstructured data.

+ Local reporting tools are ready for use in short time.

+ Through the high degree of automation, the tools support the operative controlling routine.

+ You can buy suitable solutions externally as a targeted supplement to the standard systems.

 

– Through internal development you tie up important resources, time and financially.

– When using external service providers, you buy foreign competences.

– External service also costs money.

 

Are there any questions left? Need a hint? You are welcome to leave a comment here or to contact me confidentially by e-mail.

Happy reporting,
Yours Silja Wolff

 

Opinions, trends and behaviours – the interest in surveys is growing steadily. Numerous evaluation results are prepared and presented daily. Diverse ways of visualising the results are available, still some essential basics should be considered.

Good to know: Survey results are most interesting when the reader can quickly draw comparisons.

When executing the primary demands, mostly some classic mistakes are made which can be easily avoided.

  • Use vertical axes for visualising survey results. These are legibly especially when your readers should be able to draw comparisons. (In addition you will reduce your space challenges as when you choose horizontal axes and are forced to maybe use turned captions.)
Negativbeispiel Umfragen mit horizontaler Achse darstellen
  • Label relevant information directly with the diagram and not in “far-off” legends. This is how you allow your viewer to concentrate on the content of your survey.
Negativbeispiel Umfragen darstellen

Make the handling of your survey easier for your reader by differentiating between survey results with and without multiple answers/choices in your illustration:

 

Servey results without multiple answers

All questions of which the answer adds up to 100% are part hereunder. Those are for example simple yes and no questions or either or questions as well. With regards to content this relation is important, so visualise it.

Antworten ohne Mehrfachnennung darstellen

 

Survey results with multiple choices

With many surveys multiple choices are given. Here the adding to 100% is not of relevance. The visualisation of results should be able to illustrate that easily and concentrate on a quick comparison of results.

Umfragen gut präsentieren

 

Beautiful new world of infographic

The presentation of survey results is often equated with the design of infographics. Those graphics are optically interesting, create attention and are easily shared on social media channels. (Believing the marketing of many tool provider, good infographics are designed pretty easily.)

A closer look at several infographics, the information density is either little (see example below). Or complex data are drowned in a graphical “wanting too much”.

Negativbeispiel Tortendiagramm

 

Without a doubt infographics offer great chances for the visualisation of your survey results. Before that it is necessary to know your target group and choose with visual judgement which correlations are so relevant that they need to be visualised. There is only one rule of thumb for visualising – see above – “The reader wants to be able drawing quick comparisons.”