Wednesday, 3 September 2014

How About Deleting All Your Business Reports Now?

Well how about it?  What would happen if you deleted every business report you had in the company and started again?

I can feel the pain from here. But if your disaster recovery did not work after a hard drive failure this is where you would be.

And once that “all is lost” feeling faded into the acceptance of the “ok, let’s start again” feeling, then this is now a spring cleaning project. Let’s be honest you had been wanting to do this for ages haven’t you?

It’s a bit like living in a house that is not quite right, and you secretly wish it would burn down so that you could claim the insurance and rebuild. The bedroom would be bigger, the kitchen could extend out the back, you could move the bathroom a little further down the hall, etc…

But this only works if you have a couple of hours warning to get out all of the important things like the photo albums and the memorabilia, the guitars, the kids toys and the jewellery, etc… Oh, and the wife, kids and dogs!

But thinking back when we had all of these reports, people were either never using half of them, or they would not trust their results because somebody else had a report that had different figures.

So all this work over the years was an asset, that to be honest was costing a fortune to maintain, and secretly nobody trusted … or even used. At the same time, when figures did not match across even the simplest sales reports … managers were embarrassed in meetings, and in turn their figures were not trusted.
Heated discussions on why my spreadsheet was right and yours must be wrong.

Any boat owner will tell you that the second best day of their boat-owning life is the day they buy their boat.

The best day is the day they sell it. Boats just take a lot of management. You have to clean them, fuel them, fix them, and use them, and if you have a boat in the driveway that you never use, you just feel guilty. Guilty for not using something you spend so much time and money on.

I recently read the story of a CEO of a large Fortune 500 company asking his IT department to delete every report in their report repository except 12 reports, which he listed on a small piece of paper.

I was going to ask why, but there was a bit of me totally understood.  The actual reason was because he had been relying on historic reports that were proved to be incorrect when analysed in a board meeting.  At first he was embarrassed … and then he was angry.

So he went back to the IT department and asked for this to be resolved.

“We will need to hire 3-4 more report designers to handle that request”, came the reply. When he asked why, he was told that the company had over 800 reports in their reporting repository and it would take that number of people to check them through.

So he requested that all of the reports be archived off (as near to being deleted as was possible). Then the 12 reports he used on a daily basis were to be rebuilt.  Finally for the next 3 months, any reports that were requested were to be built afresh and fully documented. Figures were to be matched across all the reports and signed off before they were turned live to the business.

Ok, this took 3 months to get to 45 accurate, tested and trusted business reports. But it indicated that the other 750 were now not needed and as suspected by the CEO, were at best not really wanted … and at worst, were bringing back incorrect information.

At the same time the CEO introduced a new policy.  They put the report stakeholder's name in the footer of every report, and a full description of the reports purpose and where the data came from. That way, if someone requested a report they thought could be satisfied with an existing report, they knew who to call to consolidate the new report.

With an executive mandate from the CEO, the other executives were more willing to compromise and use and trust the same reports.

So feel free again … start deleting. Enjoy the freedom and liberation it gives you!

Now spend time trusting the information and use this to make business decisions that can truly make change …

For more information visit

Written by Ray Kemp, Technical Director, DSCallards

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