What Are The Benefits Of A Flash Report? (Pros & Cons)

What Are The Benefits Of A Flash Report? (Pros & Cons) | Accounting Smarts
Craig Fry

Last updated by

Craig Fry


April 3, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Flash reports provide up-to-date key metrics allowing for timely decision-making.
  • Flash reports are presented in a clear and concise format, for easy reading.
  • By tracking key metrics over time, flash reports help identify patterns.
  • Over reliance on data can be a potential pitfall in decision making.
  • Preparation time and analyzing flash reports can become time-consuming.

A flash report is a summary of key performance metrics that are typically generated on a weekly basis. It is a quick snapshot of financial performance.

The flash report has many valuable benefits:

  • It allows decision-makers to quickly identify areas requiring attention
  • It increases accountability
  • Stimulates good communication

As a former CPA, COO and small business owner, I have relied heavily on flash reports as a way to communicate critical financial and operational data to business owners and managers.  A single page flash report has proven a valuable tool that drives results.

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Table of contents

Definition of Flash Report

A flash report is an informative document that provides a simple and concise snapshot of a company's financial and operational performance. It is typically prepared on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis and helps management quickly spot patterns, issues, and opportunities requiring attention.

The report is called a "flash" report because it should be quickly prepared and easily read, while providing a quick overview of key performance indicators.  If preparation takes longer than 30 minutes and cannot be read in 5-15 minutes it is not a “flash” report and is missing the intended purpose.

Many accounting systems today provide built-in dashboard reports with colorful graphs and charts; however, a flash report is simpler, more condensed and works best when presented as numbers only.

The flash reports intended purpose is to provide management with information necessary to make informed decisions and take corrective action.

By monitoring key metrics on a regular basis, business owners will notice patterns and potential issues early on to take proactive steps to address them before they become major problems.

Flash Report Benefits

Improved Decision-Making

A flash report provides a quick overview of the company's performance, making it easier for decision-makers to raise questions, start discussions and identify areas of improvement.

By analyzing the data in a flash report, managers can make informed decisions about allocating resources, adjusting strategies, and taking corrective action.  It can even help in managing, training and developing employees.

A flash report offers business leaders, finance managers or an entire business unit a report to focus on a very specific metric related to a product, service or other aspect of the business.  This real time monitoring helps business owners or managers tweak and move along projects more quickly as they watch the progress.

Timely Information

A flash report provides timely information that enables managers to make quick decisions.

Unlike traditional financial reports, which are prepared on a monthly or quarterly basis, a flash report is typically prepared on a weekly basis. This means that managers can quickly identify trends and take action to address issues before they become major problems.

Increased Accountability

A flash report promotes accountability by providing real-time information about the company's performance.

By tracking key indicators (KPIs) on a frequent basis, managers can hold employees accountable for their areas of responsibility and take action when necessary. This helps to ensure that everyone in the company is working towards the same goals and objectives.

The flash report also provides a way for a business owner to identify positive results and recognize and reward good work.

Better Communication

A flash report promotes better communication and problem solving by providing a common language for discussing the company's financial and operational results.  It stimulates discussion, collaboration and problem solving.

By using the same KPIs and metrics in the report, managers and employees can communicate more effectively about the company's goals, objectives, and outcomes. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.

Improved Data

Data accuracy is another benefit of a flash report.  Through the process of flash reporting, data sources will be scrutinized and tested to ensure the correct data is being produced.  Ongoing the weekly data will be compared to prior weeks and when variance are noticed, they will be traced back to source data thus helping keep source data accurate.

A flash report provides several benefits for companies, including improved decision-making, timely information, increased accountability, and better communication. By using a flash report, companies can stay on top of their results, observe areas that need improvement, and coarse correction to achieve their goals.

Flash Report Downsides

Potential Inaccuracy

One of the main downsides of a flash report is that it can be prone to inaccuracies. This is the result of a report being created quickly and without the same level of auditing or verification as other reports receive like the balance sheet or income statement.  As a result, the data may tell a different story and not be as reliable or accurate as it could be, which can lead to poor decision-making.

To address this concern, a flash report should include trend data like week over week comparisons.  By reviewing trends a team would likely spot variances and differences that would highlight any inaccuracies and prevent decisions being made on faulty information and as previously mentioned help in improving the accuracy of the data.

This can actually help improve the overall accuracy of the flash reporting process.

Limited Scope

Another potential drawback of a flash report is that it may have a limited scope. Meaning only a snapshot of a particular area or aspect of the company is being reported, rather than a comprehensive overview. As a result, it may not be as useful for identifying broader trends or issues that could impact the company as a whole.

To address this concern, it is best to evaluate the report frequently to ensure it is providing the most important information.  This may require modifying the report to achieve this goal.  This brings up another benefit that is overlooked, customization.  Flash reports are not standard reports; they are customized and changeable to meet the needs of a business.

Increased Workload

Creating a flash report can also be quite time-consuming and can add to the workload of already busy employees. This is because the report typically requires a lot of data gathering, analysis, and formatting, all of which can be time-consuming and tedious. Additionally, because the report is created on a frequent basis, it can quickly become a significant drain on resources.

To address this concern, the most effective reports are short, concise and are designed to take no more than 30 minutes to produce.  Anymore than this and the cost tends to outweigh the benefit.  If a flash report is more than a single page or has too many metrics, it should be modified.

Craig Fry

Craig Fry

Craig has spent 25 plus years in the world of accounting and business. His experience includes working as a CPA/Auditor for international accounting firms. He has worked as a controller and as a COO for small to medium-sized companies.

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