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Does Your Organization's Information Architecture Support Effective Reporting?

Data-analyticsIn order to make the right decisions, you have to have the right information. While that statement seems overly simple, the truth is that many organizations often rely upon the wrong information when making important strategic decisions. The issue of Enabling Decision Support and Analytics was one of the top ten technology initiatives reported by the 2013 North America Top Technology Initiatives Survey, a joint effort between the AICPA’s Information Management & Technology Assurance Division and the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.

Sometimes having the right information to make the right decisions does not happen when an organization's information architecture does not support effective reporting or management has not supported an investment in business intelligence-related projects. As a result, management may receive inaccurate or incomplete reports and may be at greater risk of making poorly informed business decisions. The issue of enabling decision support and analytics is a concern for many organizations as better technology can provide more data in less time than ever before. 

Organizations can better manage the risk of making poor or uninformed decisions by understanding how a Decisions Support Systems initiative encompasses the many facets of decision making – including Ineffective decision making, decision support and data analysis.
  1. Ineffective Decision Making. Organizations can avoid ineffective decision making by maintaining an alignment between strategic goals and reports. This can be accomplished by enabling decision making support and managing performance so that the organization maintains a strong alignment between those goals and reports which will ultimately result in better analyses provided to management.
  1. Decision Support. In order to create an infrastructure that supports effective decision making, organizations must have a management reporting environment and business intelligence infrastructure that supports effective evidence-based decision-making. They must also make sure that executives understand the technology options that are available to support business intelligence-related initiatives and support the organization in implementing business intelligence and performance management initiatives.
  1. Data Analysis. To analyze the data your organization needs to make decisions, you must ensure that you're using the highest quality data available. Organizations must have controls in place to ensure that reports contain high quality data and that the data are accurate, complete, timely and auditable. They must also provide management with the proper tools so that they understand how the data flows through the organization and use that data to support decision making to achieve performance goals.

As indicated above, making sure that the right people get the right information to make the right decisions is critical. However, accomplishing these goals isn't as simple as it may seem. It requires taking a meaningful look at how data is gathered, distributed and used inclusively throughout the organization.

The IMTA Division developed a white paper, What CPAs Need to Know about Business Solution Implementations, and has an archived webcast that contain more information. You may also be interested in learning the Worst IT Practices CPAs Can Advise Businesses to Avoid, in an upcoming AICPA Insights Live webcast, 1 to 2 p.m. ET on Dec. 20.

Susan Pierce, CPA, CITP, CGMA, Senior Technical Manager – IMTA, American Institute of CPAs. Susan drives the strategic mission of providing value to the IMTA professional, the CITP credential holder and the technology engaged CPA. 

Data analytics image via Shutterstock

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