How to Design Purposeful IT Reports That Deliver Better Business Decisions

IT Financial Management Success - Reporting

The goal of today’s ITFM leader is to deliver insights from IT reports that drive optimal decision making within the organization. A critical component of this process is the delivery of both annual and “instant On-Demand” IT reports to business leaders.

Unfortunately, many reports that get produced as an output for IT financial management lack the traits necessary to influence business decisions.

At Proven IT Finance, we help IT leaders develop a purposeful reporting strategy and delivery process. Purposeful reports include:

  • Visual Appeal by presenting the information in a compelling, easy-to-understand way)
  • Analytics to provide context and interpretation of the data points and metrics on the page
  • Forward Thinking with the intent to help drive specific decision-making

If the cost model is the heart and soul of IT financial management’s ability to drive optimal decision making in an organization, reporting is the public face by which IT financial management is judged.

Here’s what goes into creating purposeful reporting that supports better decision making.

Purposeful reporting is visually appealing.

IT reporting should be attractive. What exactly does that mean?

First, it means that the data must be represented in a format that makes it both easy to consume and easy to understand. That means that IT leaders must condense lots of data points into the most meaningful and important data points.

Second, visually attractive reports are compiled and presented with thought. The IT leader must identify who the audience of the report is in order to not only provide the right types of information, but also determine how the data should be displayed based on the recipients’ level of ITFM education and context.

Purposeful reporting includes data and analytics.

Purposeful reporting is much more than simply conveying numbers and data points. It’s a practice of delivering context, framing the story, and aligning reporting insights with future business goals.

With that in mind, a purposeful report blends predictive take-aways and future context alongside charts and graphs. It’s simply not enough to present the information—today’s IT leaders must facilitate the conversation around the data in meaningful ways within the report to empower the recipients to fully understand what is being conveyed.

Today’s IT leader should never send a report without providing context around the data. To do this well, ITFM teams must onboard members with capable analytics skills.

Purposeful reporting is forward-thinking.

When it comes to the practice of IT financial management and making good IT financial management decisions, the primary focus must be on conveying what the future will look like for the organization if those decisions are made.

This, of course, is a significant challenge.

Financial reporting in general tends to be backward looking—serving as a scorekeeper for what actually happened in the last month, the last quarter, or the last year. We tend to judge what we hope to happen on the basis of what happened, and, correspondingly, we identify our financial goals and design a budget.

The flaw with that approach to financial reporting is that it is, in essence, merely a catalog of prior decisions. True financial reporting should be a window into options and opportunities for future decisions.

One of the key elements of IT financial management is an understanding that, while tracking past decisions and their impact is important, the past is nowhere near as important as the future.

Purposeful financial reporting in the lens of IT Financial Management must provide leaders with both an accounting of what happened and a “window view” forecast into the opportunities ahead.

The outcome of purposeful IT reporting

If the cost model is the heart and soul of IT financial management’s ability to drive optimal decision making in an organization, reporting is the public face by which IT financial management is judged.

The practice of IT financial management is already complex enough; making the reporting difficult to understand or access does nothing to help IT leaders achieve the ultimate goal of improved decision-making within an organization. To effectively influence those decisions, IT financial management reporting must be attractive, interesting, easy to consume and readily available.

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