Is your enterprise dreading the creation and distribution of your corporate annual report? Much like paying corporate taxes, financial reports remain a necessary evil in today’s business world. Yet, with the right tools and a streamlined financial reporting process, your corporate annual report can be a useful tool for:
- Securing funding
- Gaining public favor and positive PR
- Financial forecasting
More than just a mound of paperwork (so to speak), your corporate annual report should represent a roadmap to where your company wants to be at this time next year, with a birds-eye view of how to get there. Make your financial reporting process less tortuous by leveraging technology and following the five steps below.
1. Plan Ahead
A little planning goes a long way when it comes to the financial reporting process. First, determine who needs to be involved. Do you need to:
- Bring in outside consultants?
- Enlist the help of your IT team for software upgrades?
- Establish points of contact for all departments?
Then, take a close look at your past reports. Can you combine, consolidate, or remove any elements or sections?
Some information might be better placed on your company website instead of in the corporate annual report — and some can be eliminated altogether. Be sure that every page, data point and bit of descriptive information serves the readers’ needs and/or is required by accounting best practices and standards. With a plan in place about what to include on your corporate annual report — and who to include in its creation — you’ve already streamlined the financial reporting process substantially.
Create an Efficient Workflow
Once you know who is involved, establish the steps in your financial reporting process, along with determining who is responsible for each phase.
Using a virtual data room to store and manage files makes it easier to allocate permissions so that individuals or departments can review the data pertinent to their core competencies and responsibilities. Setting proper notifications can keep data moving down the pipeline as everyone plays their part. In addition, the right virtual data room allows you to track changes as they occur to increase accountability and enhance communication. You can always retrieve a prior version of a file. You’ll know exactly who made the changes and when they did so.
Maintaining this document management workflow as you create and edit reports means fewer missed deadlines and a smoother financial reporting process.
2. Encourage Collaboration Between Departments
Successful and accurate financial reporting hinges on departments working together to ensure the timeliness and accuracy of financial data. Give department heads and workers the technology tools they need to communicate in real-time, from any location. Chat functions make it easy to answer quick questions, while the ability to leave comments in documents and spreadsheets makes it easy to keep everyone on the same virtual page.
As more employees continue to work remotely, Unified Communications capabilities are more important than ever. That includes the ability to collaborate on spreadsheets and documents in real-time from anywhere in the world.
Give Individuals Power To Retrieve the Data They Need
Of course, keeping your financial data secure remains a primary concern. Empower individuals to be able to access the data they need from anywhere on a secure platform, with encryption and both physical and digital protection at every level. Digital rights management capabilities put your organization in charge of who can access sensitive financial data. And permissions can be granted, changed or removed at any time.
3. Integrate and Link Software Applications When Possible
When it comes to the financial reporting process, one small typo or transposed digit can wreak havoc on the accuracy of your reports. Consider what software applications you can integrate to easily transfer data, reducing the risk of human error.
4. Move Your Files To the Cloud
Moving files to the cloud in a virtual data room makes it easier to:
- Keep files secure
- Manage permissions to the right personnel
- Ensure employees are always using the latest version of a file
- Collaborate across departments
It can also help integrate data across platforms to streamline your financial reporting process.
Reduce Your Reliance on Consultants and Lighten Your IT Staff’s Load With an Intuitive Platform
Adding more technology to your financial reporting process may seem like it will cost more time and money, straining the workload of your IT staff or requiring outside consultants. An intuitive cloud-based platform for data storage and secure file management can actually reduce the burden on your in-house team without adding consultants or contractors to pick up the load. CapLinked provides all the support you need, along with a user-friendly, intuitive interface that enables your whole team to work together seamlessly in the cloud.
5. Streamline Distribution
Once your corporate annual report is complete and approved by the appropriate personnel, you’ll need to distribute it efficiently and securely. While many elements of your corporate annual report may be posted publicly, you may want to reserve other aspects of the report for shareholders and stakeholders only. Plus, you want to make it easy for relevant people to view or download the files easily with just one click. Storing files in a CapLinked virtual data room enables you to employ FileProtect, a tool that allows you to share files and then deny access to those files at any time, even after they’ve been downloaded.
Don’t stress over your next corporate annual report. Secure a free trial of Caplinked to help streamline your financial reporting process.
Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing expert specializing in technology, business and finance.