When you are responsible for producing reports to inform your clients and investors, it is important they are complete and accurate, and they have been prepared in accordance with agreed standards and content, and once agreed, are sent to the correct recipients.
Being able to rely on a system to automatically produce reports in this way allows firms to increase the volume and content of their reports, without a corresponding increase in effort and resources.
We call this “business best practice”, with Reporting as a Service this is enforced. Some of the key areas of our business best practice include:
Formalised golden source data feeds
As part of the initial set-up, business data owners of data are configured into the system. These individuals or teams are responsible for the quality and timeliness of the underlying data and they release the data to Reporting as a Service once it has passed their internal checks and is ready to be included in the client and fund reports. There are safeguards to ensure the core data is not amended, for instance it is not possible for the reporting team to “overwrite” a performance number within the report.
Reporting as a Service is configured to understand all the individual data feeds and content providers required to produce a complete report. The various feeds required are displayed to the reporting team in a simple summary screen so users can see at a glance when each feed is due, who is to provide the feed, whether it has arrived or if it is late, and needs to be chased up.
DRAFT data – we absolutely recognise that data takes time to review, scrub, cleanse and make available to the reporting system. This can delay the reporting team making a start on their reports, gathering commentary and undertaking other preparatory activities. Reporting as a Service allows for data to be classified as “draft”, and all the reports using that data will render and be available to review but can’t be finalised and despatched. Data files can also be sent/received any number of times as the business team complete, check and validate their data. As Reporting as a Service receives each data file, the system works out what data items have been updated, and automatically re-renders those reports impacted by the updates.
Automated Data Validation
To help ensure all the data received is publishable and of the highest quality, Reporting as a Service has a suite of automated data validation checks. These provide a further layer of assurance to the business teams and the checks are as follows;
- Absolute data checks, for example, checking the portfolio totals to 100%
- Relative data checks, for instance, checking that certain data values are within an agreed % of the value last time, or within the average value over a number of months
- Checking that key fields have been populated, and are not empty or N/A
- Translation checks, if a report is to be produced in another language and a translated word or phrase is missing, this would be automatically checked for and highlighted to the user
Additionally, we are able to configure each check to be “mandatory”, “preferred”, “optional” or “informational”.
Mandatory data checks: For these items, the system will not render a report until the mandatory data item has been received and passed the checks. Where the mandatory data item fails the check, the workflow process will highlight these items for the users to investigate what is missing/incomplete from the data file and resubmit/correct the data accordingly. A report may not be fully rendered and despatched with failed mandatory data checks.
Preferred data checks: These data checks may be considered as optional. In the event the data item fails the preferred data check, the system will highlight the issue to the reporting team, but the warning may be manually ‘ignored’. Where the data check is ‘ignored’, report production will continue. Where the preferred data item is not ignored, the corrected data must be provided before the report will fully render and complete. A full audit trail of all ‘ignore’ decisions is maintained and displayed within the system.
Optional data items: Certain data items may be classified as optional in the system. In the event these are not populated within the data feed, the report simply continues to be processed and skips these data items. In the event the optional data items are provided within the data feed, they are populated on the report.
Informational data items: These are used to help clean the data set, for example you may want to reclassify a “Hong Kong” stock classification to “China”. These are specified and configured on a customer by customer basis.
The flexibility of these various checking options provides a very powerful mechanism to ensure that the data used for reporting is complete and accurate, and thus we can all be confident that this is reflected in the reports produced.
The entire reporting process is controlled by automated workflows, that identify exceptions and highlight these to the reporting team. This means that the reporting team can be highly efficient, and the same team can produce more reports and more complex reports or produce reports on a more timely basis.
The reporting team can see at a glance the current status of all their reports, whether at summary level, and simply drill down into the more detailed screens to lower levels of granularity and to individual reports.
Nothing can get missed or forgotten. All the reports are managed by the workflow process.
Content Aware Reports
Reporting as a Service has “content aware” reports. Thus, whenever new or revised data, content or written commentary arrives, the system automatically identifies which reports are impacted and automatically re-renders the impacted report or reports. If the reports are already in the workflow process, the system simply re-renders the reports to take account of the new data, content, commentary etc. and updates the audit trail accordingly. Even if the report has already been completed and despatched, the system still highlights this to the reporting team and provides a button so they can re-run the report with a single click.
Never again do the reporting team need to rush around trying to work out the impact of a price change, a late booked transaction, a change to the written commentary or some such unexpected last-minute change. Content aware reports makes this situation a very straight-forward process, requiring no additional manual effort, and guarantees all the impacted reports are updated for the changes.
Automated Activity Log
All the steps and activities taken to produce and approve the report are automatically tracked by the system and individually listed out in a complete activity log for each report produced. The log contains details of the data files received and used to produce the report, any manual overrides, date and time and who undertook the report approval and the time, date and recipients for automated distribution. This activity log remains with the report within the document library and can be reviewed at any time by the reporting team.
Upon approval, the reports can be automatically distributed to individuals, to teams or groups of people, internal and external to the organisation, or automatically distributed to other systems.
No more saving all the files to a local folder, manually attaching the report files to emails and sending them from a PC. Reporting as a Service automates the entire process and ensures the right reports are sent to the right places on time, every time.
The date and time of the automated dispatch is captured in the activity log, for future reference and completeness.
Automated business best practice workflows are key to ensuring a reporting team can produce complete and accurate reports, on time, every time. The automated best practice workflows also allow for increased scale without increasing the team size.