Dashboard Reporting Tools: Gauging Accounting Relevance
Dashboard reporting tools can be of great assistance when accounting professionals want to help their clients understand how the business is performing. In most cases, these tools do a good job of showing owners the details of the profit and loss or cash flow reports, presenting the information in a way that non-accountants can understand. Many accounting professionals have turned to these reporting solutions to increase the value of the accounting work performed. After all, if the client can’t really understand the P&L and the Balance Sheet, then the reports won’t do them much good.
While simplified graphical reporting solutions are beneficial to the business, providing more insight into historical business performance, they don’t do much for the client on a daily basis if the accounting data isn’t up to date. Accounting professionals should recognize that these dynamic reporting solutions, tools which can provide business owners with real-time information on business activities and performance, can go a long way towards increasing the relevance of the accountant’s involvement in the client business.
Accounting professionals today are fighting battles on several fronts, and remaining relevant to the client is one of them. This isn’t too surprising, given that many accounting professionals see their clients only at year-end when the tax return needs to be prepared. In some cases, the business owner doesn’t even remember the name of their accountant – they just know they went there last year at tax time. This arm’s length relationship between the accounting professional and the business clients leaves a lot of opportunity on the table for both parties.
When accounting professionals aren’t closely involved with their clients, they risk losing the client to a more attentive, consultative professional. Many firms believe that the low profitability of bookkeeping and processing daily work for clients means that they should focus only on “higher level” opportunities, yet business owners will tend to seek advice from those who work with them on a regular basis, and who understand the issues that challenge growth and profitability.
Accounting professionals who recognize the value of providing regular bookkeeping services to their clients also recognize the value of working closer with the client, providing useful and actionable information rather than historic data long after-the-fact. These professionals are more likely to reap the rewards of “higher level” engagement opportunities from the client, because they help to identify the need and are able to support it with real data and insight earned through regular involvement with the business.