By Dr Pieter van der Walt
Group manager: Information Integration & Sustainability at Altron Ltd.
Our integrated reports, since the first in 2010, have progressively moved from focusing purely on the previous period’s financial performance towards a more integrated view of other aspects of the business and the operating context. Through in-depth stakeholder engagement, aspects of materiality have been brought to the table and this has provided management with a focused approach in addressing issues of risk and opportunity across the group.
Flowing from the integrated report, a harmonising effect on internal reporting processes has been evolving over time. In preparing for our reporting cycles it become evident that a significant amount of time is spent on collating information and preparing reports for board sub-committees and for annual reporting. In addition, the streamlining of the group into a more ICT focused entity has also brought some focus on how we, as a group, align ourselves to better reporting – not only on an annual basis through the culmination into a single integrated annual report, but also through a continued integrated reporting process across all aspects highlighted in our four value drivers.
Although systems can be implemented with relative ease to provide a platform for reporting, the alignment to processes and ultimately business strategy can be problematic. However, given the challenges that all businesses face in terms of increased regulation, transparency and risk, ensuring a solid foundation in reporting processes should help in not only complying with requirements but also in becoming a conduit for increased visibility and the achievement of strategic objectives. Fragmentation and silos of information not only create confusion and unclear reporting expectations, but also lead to a lack of alignment across the organisation.
Driving this process through integrated thinking principles breaks down the silos between functional areas and enables common processes, policies and technology platforms to streamline governance, risk and compliance efforts and build a more risk and opportunity aware organisation.
From a governance, risk, compliance and sustainability perspective, we have started to build on the integrated thinking and reporting principles to continue building on our sustainable business strategy going forward. Given that each of these elements aligns with and is informed largely by legislation, regulatory frameworks, best practice and other recognised frameworks, it provides the ideal platform to ensure that group reporting is standardised across all functions. This ultimately provides a solid foundation for the continued growth of the group’s integrated reporting processes.