An Effective Approach To Control Report Problems
BY GORDON L. MURRAY Partner, Chicago Office
Presented before the Omaha Chapter of the National Association of Accountants—April 1958
SOME months ago Business Week reported on a survey conducted by its reporters on the question of executive reports. The survey covered company presidents and their assistants on the question of what various companies were doing to make their system of reports more effective.
Business Week points out that whether a company president— and we can add, other members of top management as well—likes it or not, the necessity to deal with reports is inescapable. This condition
exists whether the president's appetite for facts and figures is large or small. The flow of information to a company president has become so great that keeping up with the flood of paperwork that is deposited on his desk each day, week, and month has become a major problem.
The executives covered in this survey generally agreed on two points:
• There are too many reports.
• Present reports are of poor quality.
AREAS TO BE COVERED
The subject of reports is broad. I have elected to concentrate my remarks on the importance of this problem and the opportunity which this area offers to all of us as accountants; also, to point out some of the commonly used approaches to this problem, which have serious limitations; and then, to spell out the principles inherent in a sound approach and to illustrate how these principles have been applied in actual practice.
The objective is to avoid an inference that there is a stereotyped outline which can be followed successfully or a standard set of reports which can be generally applied. There are few "pat" answers to this type of management problem. There are, however, sound approaches and principles which, when combined with imagination and knowledge of a particular situation, produce good results.