In the knowledge based economy, optimised use of data is central to helping organisations make better decisions. However a new study of performance reporting conducted by KPMG and ACCA has found that almost 40% of finance professionals believe decisions are still primarily based on ‘gut feel’.
The global report, which took in the views of 1,100 accountants from more than 50 countries around the world, found that many decisions are still based on the instinct of whoever sits at the top of the organisation rather than information-based insight.
Commenting on the findings, Jamie Lyon, head of corporate sector at ACCA said:
“The benefits of using concrete data sources, particularly external ones, are manifold; however gaining buy-in from the top of the business is essential to unlocking their true value. If management do not trust the data on which performance insight is based, or would rather use their own instinct, it becomes even harder for the rest of the business to see it as an essential part of the decision making process.”
More than half of respondents (56 percent) said that the finance team in their organisation is perceived principally as gatekeepers of data, or providers of basic financial analysis at best.
John O’Mahony, Head of KPMG’s Enterprise Performance Management team, said: “The finance function is finding its reputation as a data repository hard to shake.
“The team needs to step out from behind their spreadsheets, actively guide the board and work with them to drive the strategy for the business. We already seeing this happen in the consumer goods sector, where finance teams work hand in glove with leadership and the wider business to drive better performance.
“However, this reputation overhaul cannot be achieved while finance teams remain tied up in transactional activities, such as time consuming data extraction or traditional month end analysis. This sort of activity is often not valued by the business and can be done by reporting technology, freeing up the finance professional to join colleagues at a client meeting and help to set the agenda, not just inform it.”
On a more positive note for performance reporting, over 71% of respondents believe their organisation applies a common set of KPIs consistently across the business. According to Jamie Lyon, this is a great step towards being able to understand performance across the organisation consistently but caution must be taken:
“Organisations may have consistent KPIs but there is a danger they could paint a misleading picture if they aren’t focused correctly. Organisations using measures that are too inwardly focused risk losing sight of competitors whereas those with too outward a focus risk losing relevance to corporate strategy. The key word here is balance.”
For Jamie Lyon, the report shows there is still work to do for the majority of organisations when it comes to performance reporting:
“Despite the opportunity that exists in the face of ever increasing volumes of data, this study tells us that current performance reporting processes are still flawed. Ultimately, by continuing to use the wrong data in poor alignment to KPIs, organisations risk making sub-optimal decisions that will hinder their pursuit of strategic goals and leave them unable to respond to emerging threats and opportunities.”
John O’Mahony, Head of KPMG’s Enterprise Performance Management team, said:
“The statistics reveal a real desire for finance functions to persist with monthly and annual routines, rather than offer the business a real time feed with proactive, external comparators.
“At the very least this risks damaging the finance function’s credibility, but it could also be hampering the ability of the business to raise its perfomance to that of the market leader. External comparators can help an organisation identify where it needs to catch up and target investment to achieve this.”
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Zoe Sheppard, Senior PR Manager at KPMG
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Louis Clark, ACCA Newsroom
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Notes to Editors
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. It offers business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
ACCA supports its 178,000 members and 455,000 students in 181 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 95 offices and centres and more than 7,110 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. It believes that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. ACCA’s core values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and it ensures that through its range of qualifications, it prepares accountants for business. ACCA seeks to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating its qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers. More information is here: www.accaglobal.com
KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 12,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.9 billion in the year ended September 2014. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 162,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.