For many years, business reporting was synonymous with periodic historical reports that drew on the general ledger for their content. These financial reports were the main source of business information for both internal (e.g., management) and external (e.g., investor) decision making. They still are a critical component of a company’s business reporting process, and the general ledger remains a major source of data for decision-making support.
The general ledger is the repository where all financial data comes together for reporting purposes, which is why it is included in this chapter on business reporting. However, more than just general ledger-based reports are needed for most business decisions. Rather, the business reporting that supports an organization’s decision making must synthesize business information on operational and strategic performance derived from a multitude of sources. Successful managers also make use of a broad range of sources of nonfinancial information, which differ with the decision to be made and the circumstances in which the firm finds itself. The data needed to support such business reporting are captured through various business processes as discussed in INTEGRATED PRODUCTION PROCESSES (IPP) . Easy-to-use, flexible business intelligence tools are frequently adopted to analyze and synthesize the aggregated data in order to support performance measurement, alternatives evaluation, and competitive analysis needs within this broader view.
This chapter begins by defining the boundaries of business reporting including the general ledger activities, explaining its functions, and examining its organizational context. Then we proceed to a discussion of the logical general ledger system features. Sections on extended business reporting processes and technology follow.
- To describe how business processes feed data required for general ledger
- updates and business reporting
- To explain how the general ledger and business reporting capabilities support an organization’s external and internal reporting functions
- To analyze the limitations of the traditional general ledger approach in contemporary systems
- To describe the extensive business reporting capabilities enabled by enterprise systems, the Internet, and business intelligence software
- To explain the applicability of business reporting to both operational and strategic planning