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Your Flight Checklist For Management Reporting—Don’t Present Without It
You may not be checking hydraulic pumps and pitot openings, but your pre-flight management reporting checklist is still vital.
Landing gear? Check.
Oil pressure? Check.
I’m sure you’ve seen (or heard) this song and dance before in at least 10 movies. These are all part of the pre-flight checklist to make sure everything is in order before takeoff. The process is crucial and also repeatable, so safety can be ensured every time.
And although your organization’s reporting isn’t a life or death situation, it’s still important to take a comprehensive approach to the matter, just like pilots do. You need a checklist to go through before presenting your reports to your coworkers, bosses, investors, and customers.
This management reporting “flight checklist” will help you make sure that your numbers are in a consistent format, that your file is saved correctly, that the report is distributed before you present, and more. The bottom line is that this will save you from some embarrassing mistakes.
Your 15-Step Management Reporting Flight Checklist
Whether you compile and present your reports in Excel, PowerPoint, Google Sheets, or a reporting software system, it’s important to follow a few rules. Make sure to check off these three things before presenting your reports to management.
1. Make sure you’re in the same format as others.
Do you have four or five people coming together to build a big quarterly report? Make sure you’re all in the same file type.
2. Check to see that everyone is using the right template.
Before you all put together your slides or reports, it’s important that everyone has the right template. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck formatting blank slides for hours.
3. Check your vertical vs. horizontal table layouts.
If one person puts “months” on the left and “KPIs” on the right but you do the reverse, you’ll waste a lot of time transposing.
Now we’ll get into the meat of the report. Check off these four items before building your presentation.
4. Review previous reports for conflicting data.
In order to properly analyze progress, you’ll want to make sure your data lines up with the last reporting cycle. If you said your conversion rate was 2.5% in FY14, and on the most recent report it’s now 1.5%, you may have to answer some questions.
5. Make sure KPIs are consistent.
Not only does the data have to be consistent with previous reports, but what you measure needs to be, as well. If you were looking at “sales by region” last report and “sales by city” this report, it’ll be impossible to compare.
6. Make sure time periods are consistent.
Do not switch from “revenue per week” to “revenue per month” unless you’ve made an organizational decision to change. Stay consistent with your time periods so you can track progress.
7. Create RAG rules.
Red, amber, and green (RAG) rules help your team assess high, medium, and low performance numbers. Make sure everyone is on the same page with how these are defined before coloring each KPI.
The Review Process
Now that you have the format correct and the report built, it’s time to review and edit. Check off these three boxes.
8. Double check every page for formatting, typos, and number errors.
Save yourself from embarrassment during the management reporting process by diligently checking each page for these three things.
9. Check for surprises and discuss with critical people before presenting.
Has one KPI significantly dropped off since the last reporting cycle? Check with stakeholders to find an explanation and a solution. You don’t want to be blindsided in the meeting.
10. Check for missing sections.
When building a report, you’ll inevitably have to pause and come back to a section. Make sure to check for empty tables, missing numbers, and missing pages before presenting. You want to tell the full story.
The Communication Plan
The final step is communicating your report. The file itself is important, but how you present it is more critical. Follow these five steps.
11. Send out the report before presenting it.
Give your management team the opportunity to prepare for the meeting by sending out the report beforehand.
12. Present your reports in a meeting.
The numbers are important, but the context behind those numbers tells the full story. Give yourself a chance to add context by presenting your report in a meeting format. Don’t just send it off and let it float away.
13. Invite people to the meeting.
This is a simple one, but it sometimes slips through the cracks. Invite people to the meeting well in advance, set a recurring meeting if needed, and make sure everyone has accepted before showing up to the conference room.
14. Set up a meeting room.
Here’s another simple but important reminder. Make sure your calendar invite includes a conference room that you’ve booked, or an online meeting room.
15. Designate an unbiased moderator.
You may want to consider inviting an unbiased team member to run the meeting. That way, you can spread time evenly across topics. If you run the meeting, it may be all positives, and if the board runs the meetings, it could end up being all negatives. A moderator could help balance both.
Ready For Takeoff
If you’ve checked off all 15, you’re cleared for reporting takeoff! I promise your reporting presentations will go more smoothly from here on out with this management reporting pre-flight checklist by your side.
Think we’re missing any items? Tweet @ClearPointStrat with your recommendations and we’d be glad to include them.