Let’s say you’ve created a 5-year strategic plan and shared it with your entire organization. But as the months roll along, results are inconsistent and decisions are painfully slow. Teams waste time building reports from manual spreadsheets instead of focusing on strategic priorities.
You know that speed is crucial to thrive in a competitive market, but with teams operating in silos, it’s challenging to align everyone’s efforts.
You need a centralized view of their progress to prevent misaligning day-to-day operations with the company strategy. Additionally, a centralized view promotes transparency so teams know how their projects fit the bigger picture.
In this article, we’ll discuss the challenges and benefits of centralized reporting. We’ll also show you how to use Cascade, our strategy execution platform, to create reports that enable fast strategic decisions and ensure everyone stays on track together.
5 Reasons Why Centralized Reporting Is Important
Centralized reporting is a structured data management and analysis approach where information from various sources is consolidated in a centralized location. This approach provides decision-makers with a comprehensive view of an organization's performance and strategic initiatives in real time.
Without a centralized reporting system, organizations rely on manual spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel to track strategic plans and metrics. Teams painstakingly enter data manually and use complex formulas to derive and validate reports. This process often results in errors and unreliable information.
Manual updates and data entry not only consume significant time but also lead to version control issues, making it challenging to ensure everyone has the latest information.
Some organizations try to bypass these issues with various standalone tools for different strategic aspects, such as project management and financial tools.
However, these often fail to integrate properly, creating disjointed data and making it hard to get a complete, accurate view of performance and the impact of strategic initiatives.
A centralized reporting system solves all of these common problems. It provides the following benefits:
Although data-driven, most organizations today struggle to answer critical economic questions such as “How are we performing today?” and “Where should we invest or cut funding?” To avoid making wrong decisions, business leaders need complete data access for an accurate performance snapshot.
Centralized reporting helps leaders make informed decisions and adjust them according to changing circumstances. With data gathered in a central location, you have all the information you need to gauge the organization’s performance and plan for the next steps.
In an ongoing study, Harvard Business Review discovered that 82% of employees felt aligned with company strategies, but further analysis showed that only 23% were actually aligned. This data marks a massive discrepancy between perceived alignment and actual alignment.
This misalignment can lead to redirection of resources to less impactful initiatives. With centralized reporting, teams can connect metrics with initiatives under one roof, correcting any wrong perceptions and ensuring effective resource allocation.
The absence of centralized reporting slows the process of gathering, analyzing, and reporting data. This delay is critical in a competitive market where rapid decision-making can be key to outperforming competitors.
Forrester's survey revealed that only 23% of organizations have improved their agility in the past five years—not enough, considering the accelerating pace of business changes.
With a centralized reporting system, you can automate data collection, so teams spend less time manually gathering data and more time analyzing results for faster decision-making.
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A centralized reporting system helps the organization identify the core metrics everyone needs to work towards. This clarity helps focus efforts and resources on what will move the needle, avoiding distractions from less impactful and non-cost-effective measures.
Transparency and accountability
Centralized reporting establishes a clear line of sight between individual and team performance metrics and broader organizational goals. It helps hold people accountable for the results. This transparency fosters a culture of responsibility and ownership.
How Cascade Helps You Centralize Reporting
Cascade is a strategy execution software that connects siloed metrics, initiatives, and investments to help strategic leaders accelerate decision-making.
Think of it as your organization’s strategic brain, which understands the relationships between business inputs and outcomes.
It automatically pulls information from any integrated business system, eliminating manual data entry. It’s not a point solution that can solve only a single problem. Instead, it’s a central source of truth for your business health and strategies that can aggregate information from all your business systems.
With Cascade, you can build an all-in-one centralized reporting system that streamlines alignment, speed, focus, transparency, and accountability. Here’s how:
Consolidate your business systems under a unified roof
Disparate systems often scatter data, preventing a clear view of business health and making it hard to spot underperforming metrics, which slows decision-making and response to new challenges.
Cascade's Metrics Library provides a centralized space to integrate and consolidate metrics seamlessly. Organizations no longer need to navigate multiple platforms; the Metrics Library brings all metrics under one roof.
You can connect to an existing source, like Excel or Google Sheets, and import the data to the library. You can also manually track metrics from within Cascade or create a new metric whose value results from a calculation from existing ones.
With the Metrics Library, you have a data warehouse where you can search, filter, and toggle between imported, manual, or calculated data. You can also connect them to Measures in your plans to track them against due dates and targets.
Link strategic initiatives with metrics and progress
One of the reasons companies fail to execute their strategy is the lack of connection between strategic goals and initiatives. Teams may complete assigned projects but potentially don’t understand the main goals for the year. It’s hard for them to prioritize their efforts because they’re unaware of the company’s direction.
With Cascade, connecting metrics with strategic goals and initiatives is easy once you’ve built your strategic plan.
Cascade’s Planner helps you develop your strategies exactly how you want them. It supports various strategy frameworks, including OKRs, Cascade Model, or Balanced Scorecard, and allows you to break down big ideas by initiatives and targets. You can add focus areas, objectives, projects, action plans, measures (KPIs), and owners.
Monitor strategy's execution and progress is straightforward with the ability to track measures manually, through integrations, or connected metrics. You can set target and critical limits to visualize progress and determine how often you want to evaluate metrics. You can also notify the measure’s owner to make progress updates, ensuring you stay informed about the expected completion of a particular project.
This centralized visibility into strategies and outcomes helps organizations make informed decisions using real-time insights.
With a clear understanding of progress and project dependencies, teams can make proactive adjustments and mitigate potential risks to improve the odds of success. They can focus on strategy execution, confident that their progress is automatically tracked and no longer burdened by manual data gathering.
Pinpoint your strategic performance at any given time
Without a centralized system, reports are inconsistent, leading to misinformed decisions. This happens due to a lack of a standardized view of the existing data.
Teams also waste countless hours building monthly strategy reports, which are usually static and disconnected from operational progress. You can’t drill down on an insight, and there’s a considerable chance the data is outdated, unverified, or inaccurate.
Cascade gives you a centralized place to easily extract data from various systems, so you can create new reports and dashboards without burdening your staff. It allows you to drill into performance in real time and gain deeper data insights.
You can monitor key metrics and critical business data live and use visualizations for impactful decision-making. Best of all, it's easy to add context with notes and headlines.
Sharing and presenting your report to stakeholders is simple. You can set authentication controls and invite them as collaborators. This brings transparency to your stakeholders as they see how the strategy and data come together. It also enables you to immediately address any queries by letting them leave inline comments and questions directly on the relevant information.
💡If you want to standardize progress updates across the organization, Cascade lets you use custom update templates to collect information.
Visualize alignment across your organization
Teams often struggle to understand how their day-to-day activities align with strategic goals. At the same time, siloed objectives and a lack of shared goals lead to inefficiencies, duplication of efforts, and missed opportunities for cross-functional collaboration.
For example, your marketing team can put so much effort into a product campaign, not realizing that the product is no longer a priority. When departments fail to share information, they’re often out of sync.
Cascade’s Alignment & Relationships helps you visualize how different organizational plans work together to form your strategy. You can map dependencies, blockers, and risks that may lie along your journey.
You can build vertical alignment by linking top-level business strategy with functional and operational plans. Cascade lets you add Contributing Objectives to your strategic plans as a success criterion for another objective and view how its progress contributes to achieving the top-level objective.
You can also create shared or linked objectives (cross-functional objectives) that are shared across plans and contribute to each other’s success.
This approach is useful when teams collaborate on projects and aim to achieve a shared success milestone. It promotes horizontal alignment and eliminates team silos, helping you see which teams are working together to make progress on critical initiatives.
With Cascade’s alignment visualization, you can easily identify orphan activities that aren’t aligned with any strategy. Instantly explore the interconnections within the business and filter relationships to see what you need. You have options to filter by plan, health, focus area, and type. This helps you cut the noise and make faster decisions.
Ready To Centralize Your Reporting And Strategy Execution?
Spreadsheets and disconnected tools may have existed in your organization since the business began. However, it’s time to optimize the business and depart from misaligned, inaccurate, and outdated data that’s time-consuming to gather and report.
Cascade offers a centralized platform to view and consolidate your business strategy and progress, so you don’t have to endure the pain of manual spreadsheets and different tools. With automatic data collection and real-time reports, your team can be free of the burden of painstaking data collection. At the same time, you enjoy the power of real-time insights and faster decision-making.
Cascade unites your operating information into a single view, so you know how your business performs at every level and make the right decisions every time. Join thousands of businesses who’ve made the switch.
👉Book a demo today and discover how Cascade can be your driver of strategy success.