How Reporting and Analytics Can Make or Break Consolidation Projects

December 13, 2013

Authored by Michael Guerin, TeamCain

There is a lot to bring together when it comes to a Merger and Acquisition (M&A) project including culture, systems, staff, business processes, financing and reporting and analytics.  The timing of an M&A project can be anywhere from several months to years and it all depends on the complexity of the systems, the similarities of the businesses and whether or not a company has experienced an M&A before or not. One size does not fit all and that is why it’s important to make sure all your ducks are in a row, especially when it comes to your reporting and analytics.

There is a big difference between reporting and analytics. Reporting is all about month end and periodic data. Analytics is answering the “why” and “what” happened. According to a survey in CFO magazine, almost 40% of the C and VP-level respondents said their effectiveness was impaired by limited visibility into financial-reporting data, and this can be made even more challenging if there is a mixed data model (such as multiple ERPs). Management needs to be able to monitor the merged entity in a familiar view.

When merging reporting and analytics, one of the first steps is to determine and deal with the “little things” like:

  • Different chart of accounts
  • Similar vendors/customers, but with different coding
  • Classifications for customers, vendors, inventory, jobs, and employees (often covers the same “things” but with different coding)
  • Department/business unit classifications and coding

What are your options when it comes to reporting and analytics in a consolidation project? Timing is a key factor so it’s good to determine your approach. Next, analytics tend to be a larger than expected and “need it now” key piece of information going into a merger. You can treat reporting and analytics as part of a system integration (but again, timing has an impact). You could use an existing BI system if in place but keep in mind: you must deal with data structures and consistency in a technical environment. You could replace reports but that can easily cost you time and technical resources when they would be better suiting to deal with other M&A issues.

Perhaps the best way to approach reporting and analytics during a merger project is to use Excel which is one of the most used reporting solutions and many employees are familiar with it. Spreadsheet Server, which is an Excel automation add-in, can help empower your users while at the same time leveraging their existing skill set. It helps to reduce/eliminate the reliance on IT for creating and maintain reports and you can consolidate reporting across different systems. You even get the convenience of simple, powerful, one-click report distribution. Watch the latest webinar to see it in action and get more tips for how it can help during a consolidation project.

The whole point of an M&A project is to strengthen positions, acquire expertise, access new markets and exploit market weakness. Going into an M&A project unprepared could greatly hinder your business success. It’s important to remember that reporting and analytics need to be in place and solid before the actual merger process is complete.