The Flash Report is a periodic snapshot of key financial and operational data. It’s a one-page report that helps management assess the key performance indicators of the company. The report should cover the shortest time period that is feasible, usually a weekly basis. Base this whole process on the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid). It should not take any longer than 30 minutes to prepare and get ready. If it takes any longer than that, then you have made the report too detailed. It will then be too difficult to maintain!
There are 3 sections to this report:
Flash Reports are a rough measure of change. They are not meant to be 100% accurate. If the data is 80-90% accurate, then it will be enough to manage the business. For complete accuracy, the firm can defer to its monthly financial statements, which come out 2-4 weeks after the month closes. For management purposes, it is timeliness and “mostly accurate” is good enough. If one were to wait for complete accuracy, then the competitive landscape may have change so completely that the “accurate” financial statements may not be of any use.
Flash reports should be done on a weekly basis; however, some companies elect to do it every two weeks to more naturally capture the payroll cycle in terms of monitoring cash flow.
The CFO/Controller should get together with the Owner(s)/Management to arrive at a set of metrics for the Productivity Section. This is the hardest part to arrive at and will require the input of both operations as well as finance/accounting.
After the initial metrics have been determined, the CFO/Controller can have someone in the client’s accounting staff to gather the data for the Liquidity, Productivity and Profitability sections.
Each section tells a different story about the firm.
The Liquidity Section tells management about the cash situation of the firm. Is the company generating cash? Does it have enough money to pay the bills?
The Productivity Section gives an indication of the key performance metrics of the business. These metrics are tied to operations. They are also a way to combine the operations of a company to its financial performance.
The Profitability Section gives a rough indication of how much money the company has made during the period of measure.
[box] Existing Financial Leaders: It is important to emphasize again that complete accuracy is not necessary. Timeliness, however, is absolutely necessary.[/box]
Management can work off of 80-90% accuracy. What they need to focus on is the change in trends over a period of time.
Click to download: Flash Report