Management Reporting challenges: 4 real-life success stories

  • Richard Thelwell
  • January 2, 2015

For many businesses, creating management reports can be a complex, time-consuming process. The best way to understand the difficulties involved is to look at real companies, with real management reporting challenges.

In this article we take a look at four common management reporting challenges, using real-life examples from existing Matillion customers.

For more examples of companies who overcame their management reporting challenges, take a look at the case studies section on our website.

Manual reporting process

One of the most common management reporting challenges faced by companies is the manual nature of creating reports. This was the problem facing Countax Limited, a British manufacturer of garden tractors and ride-on mowers.

Reports were manually compiled, which was both time-consuming and costly for the business. On top of this, the business experienced issues with the consistency of data and duplication of effort.

Summarising his company’s management reporting challenges, David Sturges, managing director at Countax, stated, “We had the information, or rather the data. The challenge was accessing and using it. In some areas, we just weren’t asking for the information we needed, as we knew it was going to be painful to get.”

Matillion implemented sales analysis, inventory analysis, supply chain analysis and finance analysis modules for Countax. This gave staff the ability to access powerful, easy-to-use, self-service reporting and business intelligence.

Self-serve reporting took a great deal of manual effort out of report creation, freeing up resources and reducing bottlenecks across the business. Lisa Vedder, management accountant at Countax, spoke of the benefit that this had for the finance team:

“The finance department will save many hours of time with reports that can be automated and scheduled through Matillion, freeing us up for other activities”.

Aligning data with business strategy

Business Intelligence and management reporting can help your organisation gain valuable insight into departmental performance, allowing you to develop robust and coherent business strategies. However, many companies face management reporting challenges around aligning their data with their business activities.

management reporting challenges business strategy
Many companies struggle to align their data with their business strategy

This was the case at Hornby PLC, a household name engaged in the manufacturing of models, hobby products and collectible toys.

Hornby needed to improve its access to management information in order to better align its sales, marketing and finance activities. Its legacy ERP system, Maxx, was great at running the business but its reporting capabilities were not user-friendly. Extracting data to steer the business was difficult and time-consuming. This caused bottlenecks to build up around key staff members who knew how to extract data from Maxx.

“Reporting in some areas was non-existent which made making factually based decisions and improvements difficult,” says Hornby sales office manager Lindsy Seymour.

“We needed a more accessible system of sales analysis and budgeting for the company.”

By purchasing our sales analysis module Hornby was able to access the reports and analysis it needed more quickly, more easily and more effectively. The benefits were immediately apparent.

Sales and marketing director, Nat Southworth, stated, “Matillion BI allows us to make decisions and reactions based on facts, not on ‘what we feel’. It is providing a link between sales, marketing, and finance that is really helping us deliver profitable business.”

Large, complex spreadsheets

Liverpool-based manufacturer Concord Filing Products produce a wide range of quality stationery products –pads, books, files and dividers – which they sell to retail multiples, stationery wholesalers and public/private sector end-users.

Like many manufacturers, for Concord, pricing and margin analysis was absolutely critical, given the low margins and the large number of SKUs.

Describing his businesses management reporting challenges, CEO Kevin Allen stated, “We dealt with this by producing huge spreadsheets. We had ones that took literally minutes to load. They started life as a download from our IFS ERP system, which we then manually manipulated, built in the rebates etc, and from there sliced and diced.”

“Because this process was so time-consuming, we didn’t do our analysis very often. “

“I’d rather I had my management team focused on winning new business, marketing our products and reducing costs, instead of sitting down and working on spreadsheets.”

management reporting challenges complex spreadsheets
Having data tied up in large, complex spreadsheets is one of the most common management reporting challenges for businesses.

Matillion implemented sales analysis and inventory and supply chain analysis modules for Concord, tightly integrating them with their IFS ERP system. Using Matillion BI, Concord was able to go from analysing sales, pricing and margins at customer level on a quarterly basis, to analysing down to an individual SKU level, daily.

Reporting bottlenecks

For many businesses, management reporting can be a complex procedure, meaning bottlenecks often form around the key individuals who have the requisite skills to manage data and create these reports. These bottlenecks are one of the biggest management reporting challenges facing companies and can be extremely costly in the long run.

management reporting challenges bottlenecks
Bottlenecks can quickly form around key individuals who have the skills to create management reports.

These bottlenecks were one of the key management reporting challenges faced by Napier Brown, the largest independent non-refining distributor of sugar in Europe.

Reporting within Napier Brown was complicated, relying on the IT department and then users to run Excel macros that first abstracted the relevant data from the company’s Infor System 21 ERP system, before constructing the requisite pivot tables. “After which, we’d have to do a lot of cutting and pasting to compile the weekly sales report, which typically took half a day to perform,” explained finance manager Peter Box.

Bottlenecks are a massive problem when it comes to IT staff. These staff can become inundated with report building and this may lead to significant backlogs forming, meaning that by the time these reports are actually produced, they are often no longer relevant. Bottlenecks also mean that the time spent dealing with report requests, is time taken away from other duties.

With Matillion’s sales analysis, inventory and supply chain analysis, and production analysis modules, Napier Brown revolutionised its business intelligence strategy.

Peter Box stated, “Not only has the whole process of report generation been automated, freeing up significant quantities of staff time, but we’ve now got one undisputed ‘single source of the truth’, with no debate about the accuracy of the data”.

To see how other companies overcame their management reporting challenges with Matillion BI, visit the case studies section of our website.

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