Jonathan Vowles Chartered Accountants

01234 752 566


Management Reports: Bill Gates Once Said

How to deliver better results ...


Bill Gates once said, "How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose". Like a lot of brilliant points, it is concise, simple and points to that mythical document, the management report ...

Bill Gates' advice points to better use of management reports!

Bill Gates' advice points to better use of management reports!

copyright: grinvalds / 123rf stock photo

You can apply this to your advertising information, to customer relationship information, to competitor information, to financial information, to your personal finances and to your love life.

"In fact, to pretty much anything!"

But as an accountant and business adviser, I am more interested in what this means for business. Every business keeps financial and non-financial information, but do you just gather and record information, or do you manage and use it?

Are you just keeping the minimum needed to deal with your financial responsibilities, or are you collecting a range of information (both financial and non-financial) and using it to make your business better which, to paraphrase Bill, will determine if your business wins or loses.

When was the last time you looked at your management information critically and a) learned some lessons from it and b) used it to help you plan forwards? And if you feel you are not doing enough, what are you going to do to change this?

So to help you to get to grips with this:

  1. Start off by looking at your last management report. Of course, if you don't prepare a regular monthly or quarterly report that might be the first thing to fix ... and yes you may be able to look at your software and get a report whenever you want to, but do you do that?

    Also, part of having a management report is taking the time to look at it. Part is being able to go back and re-review it, and part is having the information available to compare back against.

  2. What does your management report tell you? Is it a seething mass of unintelligible numbers? Or is it a mixture of numbers, graphs and ratios? So often, management reports hide the information you want instead of making it clear and easy. Also, some people like pages of numbers, but graphs and ratios are easier to understand.

  3. Is there something missing from your report? How do you tell if your business is working properly, and is the answer in the report? What else would you like your reports to tell you?

  4. Does your report contain non-financial as well as financial information? Your finances are the result of what your business does and how well you do it. Equally important are things that tell you how well it performs operationally, ie sales pipeline information and fulfilment performance data.

    For example, a shop might track the footfall of people entering their shop and which area of the shop they go to. Or how much activity is on their social media sites and e-commerce website. You might track the number of incoming phone calls and how long it takes to answer them. A delivery business might track the number of deliveries in a day or whether deliveries and collections are made within specific time windows.

Sometimes you just need to concentrate on the fundamentals, your sales, your gross profit and your aged debtors, but every business needs a management report, the understanding of your business that it brings, and a plan to deliver better results next time.

"Would you like to know more?"

If you need help with a better quality and more understandable management report, or in understanding what your report is telling you about your business and what you can do to deliver better results, call me on 01234 752 566 or click here to ping me an email and let me help you to win at business!

Until next time ...


More about Jonathan Vowles ...

I've been an accountant in and for business since 1987 and have a wide experience of consultancy, audit, accounts, taxation and wealth planning work from individuals and small businesses to multinational corporations and charities.

My eclectic interests in growing and developing business span a number of areas, which can be summarised as strategic business advice and tax saving advice.

I have worked with the Chamber of Commerce to deliver courses for people about starting up in business and have lectured about tax for a major accountancy practice and for Milton Keynes College.

I relax by reading fiction and by getting away from the office in a campervan.


01234 752 566