In big corporations, you can often feel the tension in the air as the month begins and the reports from the previous month are do. Compiling all the information, presenting, and analyzing it seems to take up so much time and effort for the average project manager or analyst. Well then, why do we do it?
Gathering data and creating reports gives a clear snapshot of the activities which have gone on in the last period of time, whether that be an hour, day, week, month, or year. This information can be used to make decisions in the present and future, track the success of certain actions or changes, or just be able to predict annual trends.
However, putting all the information in one report is very difficult to do, and that’s why most business owners decide to break them down into categories and assign them to people who are most acquainted with the information or might have an insight as to why the numbers present what they do. Small business owners might have to run all of these on their own, however the time spent creating and analyzing these reports are a worthy investment of your time.
What sort of reports should you be running? Here’s a starting point:
- Sales: This is a parameter that business owners most often want to see. However, let the final numbers distract you. Look for trends like popular items, ones bought in conjunction with others, decreasing popularity, and opportunities to capitalize on success and tweak things to make underperforming areas better. With online sales becoming an important part of many retailers, see where the purchase was made and the circumstances under which it occurred.
- Inventory Status: Regular reporting on inventory is important for maintaining a reliable company. Whether these are products you are selling or materials you need for your production to keep your business running like a well-oiled machine, you’re going to have to have a good handle on your inventory. Over-ordering could mean paying extra for storage or having to later resale at a discount because of difficulty in getting rid of it. On the other hand, ordering not enough stuff at a time means that you could run out, affecting the reliability of your company and possibly resulting in loss of profits. Also, bigger orders often have a discount, so you don’t want to be making a lot of small orders…As you see, there is a lot to think about, but knowing what your levels are at all times keeps you from running into any issues.
- CRM: Customer Relationship Management software is used to track many things, but mostly the buyer’s journey. It tells the story of how the customer first came into contact with the company, which marketing campaigns he or she has been exposed to, purchases made, details regarding communications, and more. Creating detailed reports of your CRM will give your marketing and sales staff a lot of information to work from. They will have more information about the consumers, what they are interested in, where they live, and be able to use this to create more effective strategies for remarketing and for capturing similar clients.
Unless you are a bookkeeper, chances are that keeping books is the most dreaded part of your business. Making sure that all your incoming and outgoing numbers are properly categorized, recorded, and reported can be a dreary and sleep-inducing job. However, this is where the real health of your business is measured. Unless you create these reports, you won’t have a true understanding of your profits or losses, meaning you could be in the middle of a financial rut and not even know about it!
Though reporting can seem like a full-time job, there is software out there that easily generate reports on Sales, purchases, Inventory status, CRM, Accounting, and much more. Find one that helps you reap from all the benefits of reporting without feeling the full brunt of the work.