CaseWare Africa's Nienke Kruger on why finance departments should automate their reporting

Nienke demos CaseWare Africa's automated reporting system in a CFO South Africa Webinar.

On Thursday morning, CFO South Africa, in partnership with CaseWare Africa, hosted a webinar during which CaseWare Africa product manager Nienke Kruger explained why finance professionals should automate their reporting. 

Nienke started the webinar with a look into the history of reporting, tracking its roots back to Egypt in 200BC. “This bookkeeping was done by having a basic write-up of what services were performed or goods were sold.” 

Complexity and the double-entry bookkeeping system came much later in the 1300s and grew into the high-quality reporting standards we have today. 

“But the essence of it is still the same,” Nienke says. “The stakeholders of the business need to have an oversight of how the business is doing.”

She then looked at what is contained within financial statements and annual reports. In South Africa, we either comply with IFRS for SMEs standards for reporting. These standard are designed to shape the information that a business presents to the providers of capital to the entity. However, with the data coming from various sources, the accounting profession needs to take a lead in helping investors file through all the noise of the growing volume of data to get the right information. 

In doing research for their automation product, CaseWare Africa found that many companies who have to produce interim financial statements are putting in a lot more information than is necessarily required from the IAS 34 standard. “It’s so ironic, because the essence of the IAS 34 standard is to disclose material items,” Nienke pointed out. “But the amount of disclosure in some of these reports are completely overwhelming. From a user perspective, it becomes very hard to dig through all of this information.” 

Companies have various reporting deadlines throughout the year and meeting these can be quite stressful, especially when you are trying to put so much information into one statement. “At CaseWare Africa we try to make this as easy as possible, by automating things as far as we can to make sure that you rather spend your time and expertise in analysing the end product than getting caught up in the admin of doing this,” Nienke said. 

She explained that automation is taking those labour intensive tasks that we have and streamline it to enable you to be as efficient as possible. “One of the steps in automation is to cut out all the duplication of efforts. The interim financial statements are part of the annual financial statement process and therefore not in isolation anymore. It also populates from one data source and therefore you can produce variable reporting requirements. One data source means that there’s consistently mapping, adjustments and are automatically included in the next period.”

After Nienke ran a demo of the automation software, the audience was given the opportunity to ask questions in the chat and a vibrant discussion ensued.