Report Automation: From Time-Suck to Competitive Edge

August 09, 2023

Opinion Piece

Originally published on LinkedIn here.

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Article by Jaques Barnard

Business Development Manager at Cleverbit Software

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In this article:

Does your finance team spend more time manually compiling data instead of gaining insights from reports?

Following on from my previous article, Why Businesses Sometimes Struggle to Embrace Technology in this article, I explain how leading organisations have elevated financial reporting through automation, placing them ahead of their competitors.

Throughout my career, I have witnessed reporting being pushed to the bottom of the list of deliverables when it comes to prioritising operations and IT requirements, especially for SMEs that must focus on running and growing their business on a budget. To say the least, those report requirements are most probably still at the bottom of the list.

While it’s crucial to have the right technology tools to run your business, such as client-facing web applications or back-office support tools, what is often neglected is how you will get the data out of these solutions to facilitate your reporting needs. This challenge can be even more pronounced for companies with multiple departments and subsidiaries.

As a result, one of the most time-consuming tasks for organisations is compiling reports for Financial Performance Management, Financial Controlling, Operational Efficiency, Inventory Management, ESG reporting, and more. Many times, these tasks fall squarely on the shoulders of the finance teams, and the most common tool used to create these reports is Excel.

The intention of this article is not to compare Excel to Formalised Automated Reporting, but I am sure anyone who has been tasked with manual financial reporting using Excel, will share the frustration and know the risks to accuracy, the lack of knowledge sharing and the amount of time it requires to get it right.

The good news is that in most instances, your reports can be automated, with increased accuracy and be generated with the click of a button, without breaking the bank. Tools like Microsoft Power BI have made report automation and analytics accessible to businesses of any size.

Now, let’s explore a simple yet impactful example of how technology solved a business problem related to manual financial reporting.

The Scenario:

In a fast-paced organisation, manual reporting processes were causing inefficiencies and delays in generating crucial financial reports. The team relied heavily on Excel spreadsheets to consolidate and analyse data from multiple sources, leading to frustrating and time-consuming procedures for employees. The need for a streamlined and automated solution became apparent to ensure accurate and timely financial reporting.

The Issue:

The existing Excel-based reporting system posed several challenges for employees. Data entry and consolidation were arduous tasks, prone to errors and inconsistencies. The process demanded significant time and effort, preventing employees from focusing on more strategic and value-added activities. Furthermore, the lack of real-time updates hindered their ability to promptly address financial insights and make informed decisions, impacting the organisation’s overall efficiency.

The Solution:

To address these challenges and alleviate employee frustrations, the organisation opted for a data warehouse approach with Microsoft Power BI as the chosen Business Intelligence (BI) tool. The solution aimed to centralise and automate financial reporting, providing employees with a more seamless and efficient process from one version of the truth.


By adopting the data warehouse approach with Microsoft Power BI, employees experienced transformative benefits that significantly improved their work environment and overall job satisfaction:


In conclusion, the organisation’s decision to automate financial reporting through a data warehouse approach with Microsoft Power BI not only improved the efficiency and accuracy of reporting but also had a profound impact on employees’ work experience. By alleviating frustrations and time-consuming tasks, employees could focus on higher-value activities, leading to enhanced job satisfaction and overall productivity. The transformation empowered them to play a more strategic role in the organisation’s success while strengthening the organisation’s competitive position in the market.

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Malta, Cleverbit Software is a prominent custom software development company, employing over 70 skilled professionals across Europe. Specialising in custom software for business efficiency, we cater to a diverse international clientele, including sectors in Malta, Luxembourg, Denmark, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Our commitment to delivering tailored, industry-specific software solutions makes us a trusted partner in driving business innovation and efficiency.

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