Business reporting is essential to companies for various reasons.

Among the more prominent of these reasons is that it can identify the strengths and weaknesses of an enterprise. Growth of any business can only occur once a sound strategy has been developed by understanding its successes and shortcomings.

Equally critical is the promotion of transparency, particularly when it comes to financials. There is no quicker way to put off potential investors than to mask what is happening on the ground by hiding reports.

Business reporting helps companies set goals by providing performance data over specific periods. They can then decide to persevere with a strategy or amend it to achieve their targets.

These days most companies make use of enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions in their business reporting. This can be for everything from financial analysis and inventory management to customer relationship insights and project management analytics.

According to Stephen Howe, director of Times 3 Technologies (T3T), ERP reporting capabilities consolidate data from various business processes into a centralised database. This integrated data is then used to generate real-time reports and dashboards, providing accurate and timely insights into various aspects of the business.

“The result is informed decision-making, improved efficiency and better control over business processes,” he says.

There are several ways to measure the effectiveness of ERP’s reporting capabilities. These include accuracy, ease of use to meet the needs of the business, the speed at which reports are generated, whether data can be accessed in real-time and how reporting aligns with business targets.

Howe does caution that businesses need to be fully prepared to make the necessary changes. While these are inevitable, some organisations insist that the “old way” of doing things remains the best way, putting ERP uptake at a disadvantage.

While the ideal time to implement ERP’s reporting capabilities may differ from company to company, Howe suggests this usually occurs during periods of strategic planning or when the business is needing to address issues of data accuracy or compliance.

He notes that businesses should appreciate that ERP implementation is a comprehensive process involving time for planning and deployment, budget for software licensing, infrastructure setup and customisation.

“Human resources also are crucial for the purposes of project management, data migration, training and ongoing support.

“Ultimately, requirements are heavily dependent on the scale and complexity of implementation, who your partner is and whether or not the company is ready for change.”

On the issue of partners, he says companies should always conduct a thorough needs assessment, research whichever options are out there, seek out recommendations and review case studies before deciding on a partner.

“Other aspects you will want to look at are whether partners are open to customisation, their scalability potential and ability to integrate with other systems.”