All client reporting teams suffer at some point with last-minute changes to their regular client reporting. These changes can emanate from a variety of sources and can negatively impact the production and distribution of the reports. Here’s 2 tips on how best to deal with them.

Graphic of red button with text saying 'Last minute changes' - Opus Nebula

1. Final reviewer

A last-minute change can come from the final review of the near completed report, and perhaps the reviewer would prefer a different word or phrase to be used in the commentary, or maybe with hindsight, they would prefer a slightly different chart or table to be displayed.

Changes such as these, at such a late stage in the reporting process, can have a large impact on report production and despatch timeframes. If the changes are agreed, there is some work to be undertaken to implement the changes. This work will then conflict with the work the team should have been doing at that time and cause twice the delay. Both a delay for the original report that requires amendment and delays to the other reports which should have been being worked on at that time.

The best way to deal with this type of change is to avoid them/delay them/manage them. By establishing a reporting meeting with the reviewers ahead of the reporting period, any such new reporting requests can be discussed, agreed and the timing of implementation can be scheduled. Similarly, small wording changes can be discussed in principle, such that the reviewers understand the process by which the commentary is provided and reviewed, and that last-minute changes can have a significant impact on the overall production process – perhaps a larger impact than they imagined.

Regular reporting review meetings with contributors and reviewers can be extremely beneficial for an organisation, as the reluctance to make changes during the reporting process is often misconstrued as a reluctance to make reporting changes.

If the changes have to be made at that time, the efficiency of the reporting system is then key to effecting the change and minimising the negative impact on the delay to that report and any subsequent reports. This is covered in more detail below.

2. Data or content changes

When changes occur to data or other content contained within the report, it is often as a result of a failure or issue elsewhere in the end-to-end process, and thus the requirement for re-work may be unavoidable at that time.

However, that said, there are still points to consider to minimise the impact of this type of change, such as arranging follow up meetings with the “supplier” departments or teams. Discuss the impact of their errors on your team and the client reports. Work with them to determine effective controls to minimise a reoccurrence in the future.

This type of change may still occur from time to time, and systems that are both efficient and automated should minimise the impact of this type of change, and allow the users to manage and control the required updates with minimal disruption and delay. The reporting system should identify and highlight all impacted reports to the users, and automatically re-render the impacted reports with the updated content for review and sign off. The audit trail for each impacted report should be automatically updated to reflect the date, time and nature of the content change.  Where reports have already been dispatched and are now effectively “out of date”, the system should highlight this to the user and allow for immediate republication and redistribution of the updated and corrected report. Both the original and re-rendered versions of the report should be automatically stored and clearly marked as such.

Close working relationships with suppliers of data and content are key, as is the pre-meeting with the people who undertake the final review and sign off of the reports. Getting all these people and processes aligned is key to avoiding most last-minute changes to reports – but when the changes do occur, it is important not to make a bad situation worse.  Having automated systems that automatically identify the reports impacted by the updated content, and allow for written commentary changes to be made quickly and easily, these are key to managing the process and quickly and efficiently providing updated reports to your clients, both internal and external. Of course, an automatically updated audit trail provides clarity over the timings and also provides clear management information for follow up.

With these 2 tips I hope you can try and avoid those last-minute changes to you client reports in the future. To find out how our Reporting as a Service solution can help your client reporting please visit our website at www.opus-nebula.com and email enquiries@opus-nebula.com to arrange a meeting and see a live demonstration of the system.

Andrew Sherlock
Opus Nebula