Reporting is crucial for organizations to monitor their performance by delivering real-time and historical data. Additionally, different departments within an organization create their own internal reports. For example, the finance department prepares reports containing an income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows, while marketing relies on reports to evaluate campaign effectiveness. Similarly, IT utilizes reporting to track the resolution time for help desk tickets.
Nevertheless, the reporting process is typically accompanied with various challenges. To simplify this process, companies commonly employ reporting tools, which are software applications that transform raw data into valuable insights. These tools automate data collection and report generation, furnishing vital information to facilitate data-driven decision making and improve organizational performance.
What kinds of challenges do organizations run into when trying to formulate valuable reports? Let’s take a look!
12 Reporting Challenges
While reporting holds immense importance for organizations, numerous companies face a range of associated difficulties. These obstacles may arise due to subpar data quality, insufficient data management practices, procedural hinderances, internal conflicts, or shortcomings in the reporting tools used by the company.
Fortunately, these challenges can be effectively addressed. By implementing appropriate data strategies, gaining a deeper understanding of essential processes, and utilizing targeted reporting tools and software that align with organizational requirements, companies can attain reporting that’s prompt, current, enlightening, and actionable.
Below are 12 commonly encountered reporting challenges in companies, along with solutions you can use to minimize the problems.
1. Poor Data Quality
Inaccurate or incomplete data can undermine the reliability of reports. Data utilized for report creation is usually stored across multiple systems, featuring diverse formats and coding structures. To ensure its usability, the data must exhibit consistency and accuracy, free from duplication, outdated entries, incompleteness, or errors. Failing to appropriately cleanse and consolidate data before generating a report can result in complications. Even a single error within a spreadsheet cell has the potential to invalidate the entire report, consequently leading to misguided decision making.
The Solution: To mitigate this challenge, companies should establish data governance practices, ensure data accuracy through regular validations, and invest in data cleansing and quality control measures.
2. Inadequate Data Practices
Companies may struggle with inefficient data collection, storage, and integration processes. Organizations aspire to achieve their business objectives, and to support this, they generate reports that focus on diverse benchmarks. These reports aim to provide valuable information and insights that facilitate informed decision making. However, the absence of integration between the reporting system and the planning system can introduce potential errors and data inaccuracies. This disconnect hampers the seamless flow of information between the two systems and deprives the organization of a unified source of truth, which is essential to ensure that everyone is operating with consistent and accurate data.
The Solution: Implementing robust data management practices, such as standardized data formats, data integration tools, and data governance frameworks, can help address this issue.
3. Process Roadblocks
Reporting can be hindered by bureaucratic processes, delays in data gathering, and manual interventions. Conventional reporting processes, where reports are manually assembled, tend to be time consuming. Executives typically communicate their information requirements and then await the construction and delivery of reports by IT or finance departments, a process that can span days, weeks, or even months. If further details are required after the report’s delivery, the process is further prolonged. Executives rely on the most current and timely information available to make critical business decisions efficiently.
The Solution: Streamlining reporting workflows, automating data collection, and reducing unnecessary approval layers can improve the efficiency and timeliness of reporting.
4. Internal Challenges
Internal conflicts or resistance to change can impede the reporting process.
The Solution: Companies should foster a data-driven culture, provide adequate training to employees, and ensure the buy-in from stakeholders to overcome internal challenges.
5. Flawed Reporting Tools
Outdated or inadequate reporting tools can limit the ability to generate meaningful insights.
The Solution: Investing in modern reporting tools and software that align with specific reporting needs can enhance the accuracy, speed, and depth of reporting.
6. Lack of Data Integration
Siloed data across different systems and departments can hinder comprehensive reporting. The siloed storage of data often results in employees being required to create reports by hand; the manual creation of reports elevates the risk of introducing errors. Due to the limited capabilities inherent in many enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, teams often resort to workarounds, involving the exportation of data from the system, importing it into a spreadsheet, manually manipulating and formatting it to align with their requirements. This labor-intensive process consumes substantial staff time and resources. Moreover, it increases the likelihood of errors and can lead to the dissemination of inaccurate information, thereby detrimentally affecting decision making.
The Solution: Implementing data integration solutions, such as data warehouses or data lakes, can consolidate data sources and enable holistic reporting.
7. Data Security Concerns
Confidential or sensitive data must be protected to avoid breaches or unauthorized access. Safeguarding data security is imperative for every organization, as it shields information from corruption or theft. In the absence of robust data security measures, companies face the potential risks of cyberattacks and data breaches, as well as internal threats and human errors. The consequences of such incidents can be severe, with businesses incurring substantial financial losses, including instances where companies have suffered multi-million-dollar losses due to extensive data breaches.
The Solution: Robust data security measures, including encryption, access controls, and regular security audits, should be implemented to mitigate risks and ensure compliance.
8. Insufficient Data Visualization
Complex or poorly designed reports can make it difficult to derive insights. Within an organization, employees may possess varying preferences regarding the way they take in data formats, such as charts, line graphs, or bar graphs. Board members might require comprehensive data depictive the overall business performance, while sales managers may solely need data specific to their respective teams’ performances. Inadequate communication of these requirements can lead to reports that fail to meet the information needs of different stakeholders, resulting in multiple iterations that are either excessively detailed or insufficiently detailed.
The Solution: Investing in data visualization tools and techniques, such as interactive dashboards and intuitive charts, can improve data interpretation and enhance decision making.
9. Lack of Standardized Metrics
Inconsistent or ambiguous metrics can lead to confusion and misinterpretation of data. This is where baselines are important, too. A baseline refers to historical data that serves as a reference point for comparing progress during a project. It captures the conditions existing before the project commenced and enables meaningful comparisons later on. The absence of a baseline diminishes the value of the data and insights obtained by organizations, as there is no starting point available for comparison.
The Solution: Establishing standardized metrics, baselines, and definitions across the organization can promote consistency and facilitate accurate reporting.
10. Data Overload
Overwhelming amounts of data can make it challenging to identify relevant insights.
The Solution: Applying data analytics techniques, such as data segmentation, trend analysis, and predictive modeling, can help extract meaningful information from vast datasets.
11. Limited Accessibility
Restricted access to reports can impede collaboration and hinder decision making.
The Solution: Implementing robust reporting platforms that provide secure, role-based access to relevant stakeholders can promote transparency and enable informed decision making.
12. Lack of Data-Driven Decision-Making Culture or Training
Companies may struggle to foster a culture that values data-driven decision making. Although reporting tools are commonly anticipated to possess user-friendly interfaces and straightforward functionality, not all teams possess the requisite training or expertise to effectively interpret and comprehend the data presented. These knowledge gaps may arise, for example, when team members with prior technological experience depart from an organization, leaving behind individuals who are less familiar with data analytics.
The Solution: Encouraging data literacy, providing training on data analysis tools, and promoting a data-driven mindset throughout the organization can address this challenge. Providing comprehensive training to a diverse range of staff members on the utilization of reporting tools is crucial for fostering internal data and analytics proficiency. Organizations can opt for either one-time training courses or ongoing training initiatives to equip teams with the necessary skills and hands-on experience required for comprehending data and generating reports. Additionally, organizations may choose to address skill gaps by hiring experts who can share their knowledge with business teams and contribute to enhancing their reporting capabilities.
Get Modern, Accurate Reporting With MIBAR
Are you facing reporting challenges in your organization? Contact MIBAR! Our experienced team of professionals will help you overcome these obstacles and optimize your reporting processes with one of our many solutions.
For example, NetSuite includes analytics and reporting capabilities that enable organizations to view operational and financial performance in real-time.
If you already have an ERP system, consider a business intelligence system like Power BI. Leveraging hundreds of available data sources, you can see metrics and business drivers in a new light, slicing and dicing the data how you see fit. Advanced analytics, feature-rich business intelligence, and context-based analytics combine to provide enterprise-level measurement and analysis at a small business cost (learn more about Power BI pricing). MIBAR has helped companies just like yours to discover, implement, and operate essential business software for more than three decades.
With our expertise in data management, reporting tools, and data-driven decision making, we can assist you in achieving accurate, timely, and actionable reports that drive business success. Don’t let reporting challenges hold you back—reach out to MIBAR today for a consultation!