Reporting can be super complex which coupled to the particular circumstances of every company and industry, creates a mammoth task to anyone trying to find some guidelines beyond the standard accounting ones. We are used to adhering to a number of reporting standards however when we have to focus onto our company internal needs, we are pretty much left to wade into unchartered waters.
One common hot topic, which is usually a major area of contention, is the stakeholders for our company. It’s already pretty hard to identify them, but maintaining every key party happy, is a different story.
When researching the topic, we have come across a very interesting article form the IFC which have outlines the following suggestions in the report Reporting to Stakeholders.
Determine what information needs to be reported to which stakeholders, by what method and how frequently.
Regularly update your commitments register and disclose progress to affected and interested parties. In particular, publicize any material changes to commitments or implementation actions that vary from publicly disclosed documents.
Make monitoring results publicly available, especially reports of any external monitors.
Regularly report on the process of stakeholder engagement as a whole, both to those stakeholders who are directly engaged, and to other interested parties.
Translate information reported to stakeholders into local languages and easily understandable formats.
The following are specifically related to project-linked stakeholders, however we have identified a number of similarities to the reality faced by the companies at large.
Information – what and frequency
It goes without telling that the level of information that is required may differ from one stakeholder to the other. Yet the basic rule applies in any case, i.e. A.C.C.U.R.A.T.E. We have extensively explored this below.
This is an interesting factor as when reporting we ten to focus onto our budgets and our performance but yet, the figures themselves may not be enough to disclose the commitments that we are taking as a company. The commitments may go beyond the financial commitments but it can be more of strategic and long-term plannings which may have to change and reinstated to ensure common goals and clear objectives.
The results achieved can vary quite drastically and once again figures may give a very limited view. Can the revenue or profit ever shed light on the new markets penetrated, the market share gained/lost, the launch of new products, the infiltration into a new sector and many other areas which are not accounted for in numerical format?
The frequency of such reporting is very hard to fathom. Striking a balance between the team efficiency and well-informed stakeholders is very hard to achieve. There are ways and means how to be more efficient in the reporting but yet we need to remember that behind every report there are long hours of work and reviews.
I must admit that this last point comes as a huge surprise but admittedly it should be quite obvious. We have grown to expect English to be a common language but the reality is that there are many more languages which cover a wide spectrum of countries. The question is, who are our stakeholders and what language or languages we should consider when reporting.