Creating Better Multi-Tab Reports with Modern Tools
After her popular workshop at Solver’s 2nd Annual BI360 User Conference, Focus 2014, we at Martin & Associates wanted to know more from Senior Consultant Stephanie Gamber. Gamber spoke about the task of multi-tab Excel reporting, a prominent and routine practice of accountants and CFOs as organizations increase in size, whether that be departments, divisions, and/or locations. We’re used to crafting multi-tab statements in Excel that end up being almost unreadable and sometimes inaccessible because of their tremendous size, due to the amount or types of tabs that you might utilize to present company data for analysis. In this article, we will discuss the restrictions of multi-tab reports you are used to producing and the streamlined choices available today for more powerful, accessible financial statements.
Gamber zoomed in on traditional multi-tab reporting by presenting an example of a corporation that has to generate 106 statements of the same report for different recipients. The example organization has 100 locations, so they have to 100 financial reports focused on the location, 5 regions which require consolidated reports with all of the locations’ figures within the area for the regional managers, and a complete, company-wide report for the executive team at the corporate headquarters level. Multi-tab reporting in a software like FRx or its replacement, Management Reporter that relies on a Reporting Tree concept, is pretty simple, but the final product is not an easily accessibly presentation of organizational information unless you export to Excel after the reports are executed – every time you execute them.
The financial reporting process can be challenging if you are using a mature or even retired product like FRx. Firstly, you have to close your books in your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, move over to FRx, run the reports with a Reporting Tree and transfer to Excel to produce a multi-tab Excel set of reports. And you have to do it all over again if you have to make any changes in the GL, repeating this process every month. In Gamber’s example, you would generate a report with 106 tabs, designated for locations, regions, and the executive team. Next, you check for variances, making any fixes to journal entries to make sure all input is correct for the final product. After you make your adjustments, you would then re-run the updated 106 tab Profit & Loss (P&L) report, waiting as patiently as you can as the report replicates. Distribution then becomes the next hurdle.
Martin & Associates admits there are some advantages to traditional multi-tab statements, but the limitations tend to cancel out the advantages. With such a large multi-tab report you build in FRx or even within Excel, you can distribute your single workbook to all of your entities. This bigger file can be adjusted and analyzed without running more than one individual report. But, because there are so many tabs, executing the report can be a slow process. With any changes to the GL, you have completely re-execute the report.
To continue learning more about creating modern Multi-Tab Reports, read the rest of this article here.