Many management reports are not management tools; they are merely memorandums of information. They arrive too late, well after the horse has bolted, and contain errors due to quality assurance steps being undermined by late adjustments. They also contain far too much detail and are produced just because we did it last month. As management tools, management reports should encourage timely action in the right direction by reporting on those activities the board and management need the staff to focus on.
Board members and the senior management team have complained for years that they are sent too much information, yet we still insist on preparing a large month-end finance report. The cost of preparing, analyzing, and checking this information is a major burden on the accounting function, creating significant time delays and consequently minimizing the information's value.
Over the years of studying reporting I have developed some foundation stones for reporting: