Research from Oracle and Accenture Finds Inefficient Financial Reporting Leads to Loss of Confidence, High Costs and Hinders Decision Making
Businesses responding with increased investment in reporting systems; need guidance on how to drive value from their investments and achieve reporting objectives
NEW YORK; REDWOOD SHORES; READING, UK; May 30, 2012 – Research released today by Oracle and Accenture (NYSE:ACN) reveals that the majority of companies surveyed worldwide have made substantial investments in financial reporting systems intended to improve their close, reporting and filing processes. However, the investments have been made ad hoc, leaving businesses with ineffective solutions and a lack of visibility, quality and confidence in their financial data.
The research report, ‘Challenges of Corporate Financial Reporting,” highlights that businesses are unable to fully understand the cost of their financial reporting, with 60 percent of finance professionals unable to identify the total cost. The report suggests that businesses need to change their investment strategies in order to avoid increased costs, ineffective financial reporting and missed key internal and external deadlines.
The report, which included 1,123 finance professionals working in 12 countries, found that 82 percent of surveyed companies have made changes over the last three years to their close, filing and reporting processes. Forty-seven percent have invested substantially in at least one of these three areas in the last 12 months. A quarter have invested in all three areas, 10 percent in two areas and 12 percent in just one.
Despite these investments, more than two-thirds of the companies still use spreadsheets (72 percent) and emails (68 percent) to track and manage reporting on a daily basis, suggesting that new investments are falling short of expectations. Consequently, 21 percent of surveyed companies have seen costs rise across the close, reporting and filing processes and 60 percent said they did not know the total cost of managing and publicizing their company’s financial results.
In other problems associated with the reporting systems, which the finance executives reported: more than two-thirds (68 percent) said they had inadequate visibility of their reporting processes, while 84 percent reported that they find it difficult to control the quality of their financial data across the course of their reporting, highlighting that additional attention should be paid to performance management.
“The results help illustrate why companies increasingly find it necessary in today’s age of volatility to invest in their performance management,” said Scott Brennan, an executive director in the Accenture Finance & Enterprise Performance consulting group. “Those that tend to be happiest with the results of their enterprise performance management are those that have a vision – they understand their company’s strategy; they have a clear view of the metrics they need to monitor and they know the importance of integrating an enterprise-wide EPM solution.”
As a result of unreliable and opaque data, finance teams are being presented with significant challenges, according to the report from Oracle and Accenture. Seventy-one percent of the finance executives surveyed said their effectiveness is limited in some way by data analysis-related issues. Consequently, they said their company experiences delays in data processing, which leads to late changes to the chart of accounts. Fifteen percent of the global businesses involved in the study reported that they had missed statutory filings, putting their companies at risk of financial penalties and potentially impacting share value.
John O’Rourke, vice president EPM Product Marketing at Oracle added: “It is clear from the report that businesses are well aware that financial reporting needs to change. The good news is that many are doing something positive about this by investing in new reporting systems. It seems, however, that these investments are currently too piecemeal and sporadic to have had the desired effect. With businesses still looking to invest, our advice is clear: Take the time to find a truly effective solution that can address data integrity issues and optimize processes. By doing so, finance organizations can be more efficient, while accuracy can improve and reports are more likely to be completed on time.”
The research revealed that businesses are responding to the challenges identified. Eighty-six percent of the surveyed executives said their businesses are taking steps to improve their financial reporting methods and that they are likely to make a significant investment over the next five years to improve them. Additionally, nearly half (46 percent) of the finance professionals indicated that their businesses are due to overhaul all three phases of the reporting, an approach which may address many of the challenges they currently face, and bring their reporting processes into line with their performance expectations.
Professor Andy Neely, director at the Cambridge Service Alliance, commented: “Modern business success is founded on good quality data and the ability to analyse it in a meaningful way. Without these two factors, it is very difficult to formulate the right insight to help your company grow. The research shows that finance departments in many organizations are currently falling short of both these fundamentals and need to look now at how they can improve the way they collect, sort and interrogate financial data if they are to overcome the challenges they are currently facing.”
About the Methodology
All interviews were conducted between February and March 2012. Dynamic Markets interviewed 1,123 finance professionals in large organizations (250+ employees) in 12 countries around the world. The findings and research data are available at http://bit.ly/JCndwW
Oracle engineers hardware and software to work together in the cloud and in your data center. For more information about Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), visit www.oracle.com.
Oracle and Java are registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 246,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$25.5 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2011. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
Accenture is a Diamond level partner in the Oracle Partner Network.
About Dynamic Markets
Dynamic Markets Limited is an independent market research consultancy conducting national and global research for blue chip clients, including Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Vodafone, Toshiba Mobile, HSBC, Egg and M&S. It operates under a strict code of conduct, as defined by the UK Market Research Society (MRS).
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