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How can board reports be improved

24/01/14

As firms attempt to improve the ways in which they communicate with stakeholders, it is crucial that board reports are generated in a way that promotes clarity and offers the most important information to the people who need it.

However, there remains a great deal of debate over the best way to produce these documents, with opinions split on how they should be presented and shaped.

Writing in CFO World, Metapraxis chief Andrew Mosely underlined the importance of insightful and relevant reports when it comes to keeping the UK's economic recovery on track and ensuring board members can make timely, engaged decisions on important issues.

He warned against the common trend among accountants and internal auditors to create unwieldy, clunky reports that may contain a great deal of information but make it hard to access because of the bulk of data surrounding the important tit-bits.

"A board report needs a strong, logical structure that is easy for each director to navigate so that they can rapidly find their way around the information and discuss its implications effectively," declared Mr Mosely.

This is crucial if auditors are to avoid burying potentially crucial elements of the document, which can lead to major problems further down the line if the board accidentally skip over something key.

Mr Mosely also urged report writers to focus on trends and forward-thinking insights, rather than being satisfied with recounting the events of the past month.

"Developing an understanding of performance trends and identifying turning points is fundamental to managing and controlling future performance," he explained.

Finally, the Metapraxis chief suggested that including a so-called 'topic of the month' might make reports appear more accessible and enable coverage of many different issues throughout the year, ensuring a varied and wide-reaching range of problems to be dealt with.

"This approach enables the whole board to develop its breadth and depth of understanding of the business through the medium of the board report," he concluded.

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