As the end of the year draws near finance and communications departments alike are blanking out the pain associated with producing annual reports.

But now is the perfect time to be thinking about the plan for next year.

For nine years Platform Communications has been guiding clients through the annual report process with positive results.

Annual reports are a legal requirement for publicly listed companies but they are also a valuable marketing tool allowing organisations to communicate achievements over the past year and show investors their money is being used wisely.

In an effort to keep costs down smaller companies often opt to write their own annual report and outsource the design component only. What is often forgotten is that writing annual reports take time, and a lot of it, leading to instances where timeframes for getting annual reports out to shareholders within three months of the end of the year are stretched and budgets allocated for the job blow out.

This can be avoided if the annual report is developed by someone who knows what they are doing and is working closely alongside the design department to ensure they are aware of challenges and have experience navigating those challenges.

Annual reports contain a massive amount of information which often comes from a variety of sources within the organisation. Ensuring someone who specialises in synthesising this kind of information and turning it into something that everybody can understand is in charge of this job can save a company hours of time.

Time and again executives are drawn into the detail of producing an annual report instead of focusing on the more pressing business-related issues.

In the current market there is no time for more people than necessary to get involved in producing annual reports. Research has shown that shareholders prefer to see annual reports within two weeks after the end of the year – currently most companies aren’t adhering to this desire with September the typical month when annual reports are produced.

Forward planning, ensuring a capable team is in charge of the project and handing over responsibility is key to getting an annual report out on time and on budget.

As for concerns about cost – the design element for annual reports can be produced for as little at $5,500 with the total (including copywriting) coming in at around $13,500 for your average-sized annual report of approximately 70 pages.

Companies also need to think about how to present the annual report to achieve the best user experience. For many shareholders the preferred method is viewing annual reports online which is beneficial for cost-conscious companies.

While we may all be sighing a breath of relief as the holiday period approaches, establishing a plan for how your company plans to produce its annual report should be top of the list of things to do in the New Year.

Talk to Platform about how we can help take the pain out of the annual report process.