Running the gauntlet of Year End Business Reporting

Last week, as I was attending the annual IDC Predictions Telebriefing for 2010, I think I finally realized the true difference between Accounting and Marketing.  The difference is that while Marketing is already thinking well into 2010, the Accounting Department is just gearing up for 2009 Year End activities.  IDC, as you may or may not know, is one of a handful of extortionist trusted prognosticators on all things technology related and indeed on most topics of interest related to business trends, market dynamics and analysis in general (others include Gartner, Aberdeen, Forrester).  These guys are to the Marketing Department what the Ratings Agencies are to the Finance Department.  There’s a certain obligation to include these guys… for good or ill.

“Buy the ticket, take the ride” – Hunter S. Thompson

Now, this isn’t a critique of the inevitable conflicts (real and perceived) inherent between these various groups.  Nor is it a post about the differences between Accounting and Marketing.  In order to do that, I am missing one critical piece.  My good friend Dan’s “Top Ten Differences between Accounting and Marketing List“.  Maybe with your help, readers, we can convince him to give it up.  Add your thoughts in the comments section!

NO.  This post is about posing a simple question:

How are your Year End spreadsheets doing?

Year End is upon us!  Everyone knows, thanks to these accounting blogs:

Everyone knows that Audit Professionals have been raked over the coals of more stringent regulation and oversight the past few years (for all the good it’s done!).  And, if my experience is at all representative of our collective experience on the industry side, the auditors have been passing all of that regulation onto you!

Preferred method of passing = The Paddlethe paddle

The paddle will be heading your way again soon enough.  Time to rollover all those Year End files and clean up for prepping 2009′s close.  The rigors of financial reporting compliance are staring us right in the face once again.  Oh, and Merry Christmas by the way.

Of course, I think that if the past 2 year’s have taught us anything, it’s that regulation is ineffective in preventing fraud.  I would like to know where Frank Abagnale jr. stands on this issue.  Abagnale is the character upon which the movie Catch Me If You Can is based and for the past 35 years he’s been helping the FBI, businesses, and government cope with matters of fraudulent activity.  I highly recommend his book, Art of The Steal, for anyone interested in learning more about specific industry-related fraud risk.art of the steal

Ultimately, prevention is the key; and if that’s true, historical financial reports will never fulfill that role.  I realize that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, but my view is that (anecdotally) auditors are getting hung up on details that bear little or no relation to the real risks.  Reason has been traded for checklists.

Be that as it may, you guys are still going to be toiling over this stuff, at their mercy, in the very near future.  At the same time, you will be expected by your management team to provide ACTUAL insight into the ACTUAL operations of your ACTUAL business.

Operations.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  Here is where you can’t “juke the stats“.  Yet, due to the pressures around the financial reports (case in point above), our operations reports are given second billing (if that – after payroll, A/R and collections, admin, etc).  To give you an idea of how much they are marginalized, there isn’t even a Wikipedia entry for Operations Reports!

I don’t see the issue with the auditors changing or going away anytime soon.  For me, there’s no reason to be optimistic or to engender optimism in you regarding that!  This is the system we live with for the moment.

Operations Reporting, including sales analytics, has to find a way to fit within the time constraints given these other pressures.  Either it fits in by 1) doing less or 2) doing more in less time.  How would you prefer to deal with your Operations Reports?

Do you have questions about the difference between Financial Reports and Operations Reports?  What are your views with respect to how this all fits together?  Let us know in the comments (and don’t worry, no salesperson will visit you).

When you talk about the true viability of the business, what does it really mean?

Closing links:

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Top 10 IT Predictions for 2010

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Filed under: Accounting, Analysts, Asking questions, Management Reports, Marketing, Operations Reports, Product News, Reports, Uncategorized ,