Operations Reporting 101 for SMB

Updated: June 01, 2010

Based on my own experience in small as well as large businesses, I have listed below the basic data that I believe is necessary to produce appropriate reports and where this data could be sourced from:


  • Consignment note details: Softcopy of freight invoice (Excel)
  • Cost of each consignment note: Softcopy of freight invoice (Excel)
  • Sales value of each consignment: Obtain from - IT/Finance


  • Total inventory valuation: Obtain from - IT/Finance
  • Total Sales Revenue: Obtain from - IT/Finance
  • Lines on backorder: Obtain from - IT/Finance
  • Excess Stock value: Obtain from - IT/Finance


  • FTE total hours: Obtain from Payroll/HR
  • Overtime hours: Obtain from Payroll/HR
  • Sick Leave hours: Obtain from Payroll/HR
  • Total Salary Cost: Obtain from Payroll/HR
  • Quantity of orders entered: Obtain from - IT
  • Value of Orders entered: Obtain from - IT/Finance

FREIGHT: By basing these three data items around the consignment note you easily get the cost of freight per sale dollar. The next level of reporting is to use the other data that is included with the consignment note, eg: sum into delivery location/zone, now you can also see which zone is costing the most compared to sales - the relationship is not just dependant on distance from source but also value of the order.

This can be done weekly or monthly with the resulting report indicating any overall delivery cost trends at a higher level, but at the detail (customer level) this can prompt requesting customers to change their ordering profile, eg: minimum value of order.

INVENTORY: This amount of data allows tracking of financial as well as customer servicing. Use sales revenue/total value to ascertain stock turn (You want to show higher stock turn rather than lower).

‘Lines on back-order' is an indicator of your true supply performance and highlights the offending products (and suppliers). If the total quantity of each is added, you can now compare this report to the previous to see trends in supply. This report should be done no less than weekly and will be a snap shot as "backorders" in most systems is a dynamic field (you cannot extract history).

Excess stock is any stock that has not sold for a specified period, the period will depend on a number of factors but the result is a report of products that you must move to reduce expenditure. Actions to mitigate excess stock (a brief all its own) is a critical ongoing function of the SOP process. As you get more proficient using this data - and spreadsheets - it will be easier to drill down to item level across all reports.

STAFFING: This data will help produce reports that indicate efficiency of work, when compared with sales and quantity of orders is indicates not only the effectiveness of the team but also how the ordering profile relative to input cost (similar to freight).

Combining and comparing the data from the different functions can also be used to gain further visibility to the business, for example using the number of lines going to backorder as a percentage of orders placed over the week. Also notice that I request transport suppliers to provide copies of their invoices in Excel format, this can save an untold amount of work and can also be used as an audit trail if there are discrepancies in rates. Hard copies can still be provided to accounts payable for processing if required.

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