Navigating Complex Reporting Relationships

If your company is global in scope, foreign-owned or one of the many that has turned to a functional matrix of management, you already know the realities of complex organisational reporting relationships.

Just some years ago, simple alignment with your immediate superior – and downward with your direct reports – was a simple matter of communication and execution. Today, however, achieving a sense of balance between corporate objectives and your own leadership mandate is a more difficult task.

Corporate boards and directors are becoming increasingly engaged in the business. This is putting downward pressure on the president or Chief Executive and more focus on profitability, market share, competing in global business environments and business strategy.

The debate rages on about whether today’s boards are getting too mired in operations.

Yet this pressure is forcing business leaders to dive deeper in search of operating efficiencies. It has also spurred a movement to stimulate innovation. And it continues to ask more of executives in terms of achieving maximum performance and stretching every resource to its full utilisation.

All of this generates greater interest in oversight, in the generation of data that can inform strategic decisions, and in the people who are capable of pushing the organisation to a new level of output.

It also requires a deeper level and more constant flow of management reporting than ever before. Finance leaders who are watching every expenditure want to understand the return-on-investment.

Senior leaders and/or global business owners want to ensure the alignment of their headquarters strategy with that of their global partners.

And the president or Chief Executive wants as much information on market influences as he or she can put their hands on before making their biggest and toughest decisions about investing to grow the business.

In this crush of information needs, it would be easy to lose sight of the need for such rigorous internal reporting requirements, let alone the need to satisfy the requirements of external regulators.

Filling out forms, shuffling through paperwork and “checking the box” on global reporting would be an easy trap to fall into for many global leaders across management functions. Sometimes, it seems, there just isn’t enough time in the day or week to satisfy all the requests for information that may flood your e-mail Inbox.

The key, therefore, must be to integrate your internal management reporting responsibilities into your own prioritisation of daily, weekly and monthly tasks. As internal reporting consumes more of your schedule, the best way to navigate these information needs is make them part of your routine.

If you consider the reporting requirements at the start of any material project or investment, it’s far likelier that you will be able to construct the supporting narrative that will answer your superiors questions before they drag you into the bureaucracy of formal, systematised information flow.

Navigating today’s complex reporting requirements requires equal parts patience and planning. Before you launch something new and anything strategic, ask yourself, “Who will want to know?” and “What questions are they likely to ask?” Facing those now will likely save you loads of time later.    

Copyright © TRANSEARCH International 2016


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