Whether you need to produce a single annual report in-house - or you're an agency working on multiple annual reports a year - you know that these high-profile publications need the utmost attention to detail.
But with complex production processes and countless contributors, there's a high risk of human error. And that means long, laborious checks to ensure complete accuracy.
Wondering if there's a faster way to create accurate and engaging annual reports? There is.
Annual report publishing software. Here's everything you need to know about what it is, how it works, and why you need it.
What is annual report publishing software?
Annual report publishing software helps you collaborate, create, execute and publish accurate annual reports.
It ensures the annual report publication process is as efficient as possible and minimizes the risk of errors.
Why is accuracy essential in annual report production?
Annual reports are a flagship publication in any organizations’ schedule. They provide detailed financial information that’s required by law, and provide shareholders and investors with key information about business performance.
Part regulatory requirement, part marketing opportunity, these documents are high-profile, deeply detailed, and commercially influential. So it’s important to get every element right - from contents to messaging and design.
A misplaced number in the audited accounts - or even a typo in the CEOs statement - could be disastrous. Collaboration software for annual reports makes errors like this much less likely to derail your perfectly planned publication.
Why are annual reports at risk of error?
Errors are a genuine concern for annual report creators, whether in-house or agency-side.
Annual reports are complex documents - detail-orientated, data-rich and high-profile. Because they provide insights into a whole organization, the process of ideating, collating and executing content is a complex task.
Firstly, there are usually a lot of stakeholders who need to contribute. If you've created any publication in the past, you'll know that more contributors mean higher complexity - at both the creation and sign-off stages. So annual reports are already a complicated beast.
Next, annual report contributors are often very senior within the company. This means they're likely to have a high interest in the content and demanding standards about how it's delivered. This can mean there are more amend-and-approval rounds than on other publications. And often with time-poor contributors who need a little prompting!
And finally, the high profile nature of an annual report means many businesses outsource annual report design to a specialist agency. This adds another dimension to annual report production - one where complexity increases further.
It's ironic really. Accuracy is so essential in annual reports that they're subject to high levels of scrutiny and feedback. And that feedback - without very thorough management - increases the risk of errors occurring.
Whoever produces your annual report - in-house or agency - it’s essential they have a robust process for receiving, amending and signing off content. Otherwise, there’s a serious risk of errors or omissions in the finished document.
How does annual report publishing software reduce the risk of error?
Good annual report publishing software seriously reduces risk caused by project complexity. And it simplifies and speeds up the approval process too. It's a win-win for annual report editors, designers and agencies. Here's how.
With annual report publishing software, everyone works together in a single streamlined system. It combines the end-to-end annual report process into one consolidated workflow - including copy, design and publication.
Stakeholders receive prompts and reminders to keep everyone on track. Contributors can collaborate in real-time (no more emailing PDFs back and forth!). And all amends are automatically saved in a complete audit trail.
- faster, easier collaboration
- all amends in one place
- complete record of amends for reference
Do I need annual report creation software?
Annual report design agencies
If you're involved in creating annual reports for clients - for example, you're a creative agency that specialises in annual report production - YES, you do. You create annual reports day in, day out. Annual report production software will make your job quicker, outputs stronger, collaboration easier... and your clients happier.
In-house annual report creators
If you're a marketer or communications manager tasked with creating your business's annual report once a year, you'll not reap ROI from investing in software for JUST this purpose. However, annual report creation software isn't just for annual reports. The technology can be used for all content creation - whether that's brochures, blog posts, web copy or any other content your team creates. So it is definitely worth exploring.
What about digital annual reports?
Annual reports can be physical, digital or both. Digital annual reports don't just have to be a PDF of your printed version. You can use your digital annual report to deliver additional content to readers, such as videos and data visualization graphics.
Imagine the extra impact of hearing about commercial success directly from your CEO for a private sector business. Or watching video testimonials from beneficiaries in an online nonprofit annual report. Or having the ability to interact with your data to see information specific to their interests...
Plus, an online annual report isn't just ideal for increasing content options and engagement. You can also measure engagement using Google Analytics to see how people interact with your content, to help inform future production choices.
Do I need digital annual report software?
If you do want to publish both a printed and digital annual report, your production processes will be more complex than if you just produce a hard-copy annual report.
Fortunately, you don't necessarily need additional digital publishing software to achieve this.
Some annual reporting publishing software allows you to create digital or online annual reports from the content you've already created for your print publication. This means - instead of treating your print and digital annual reports as separate entities - you create content once and publish it to multiple platforms. And with minimal additional effort or input. Isn't that just the dream?!
Of course, if you want to create an all-singing-all-dancing digital annual report, you may need to use separate software to achieve this. It depends on the complexity and sophistication of your plans. But remember that does mean manually handling your content again, which introduces risk, so ensure you have robust checks and cross-referencing measures in place.
Best annual report publishing software
Obviously, you're reading this article on the WoodWing website, so we're going to say WoodWing Studio is the best software for annual report publishing. (You can check out this annual report success story for our client, Argyle for something more impartial.)
Let us explain what Studio does and how it helps. WoodWing Studio provides a single, secure, shared system where contributors can work together on annual report production.
It provides a streamlined production workflow that includes:
- copy and content development
- graphic design
- review and approval processes
- sign-off to publication - for both print and digital annual reports
With WoodWing Studio, you can create accurate annual reports faster, with higher quality control and financial checks, as well as a better contributor experience. Perfect for satisfying those busy VIP stakeholders with minimal time but maximum interest in the project.
How WoodWing Studio streamlines annual report creation
WoodWing Studio is an annual report editor that streamlines the whole process of annual report production and insulates creators against risk. Here's how it works...
It starts with the editorial workflow, providing a shared space for contributors to create and finalize copy. You can easily create copy with the built-in text editor and assign it to other stakeholders for amends or approval.
Throughout the production process, stakeholders will receive a notification when their involvement is needed, to keep things flowing smoothly. They can also log in and see a personalized dashboard of their outstanding tasks.
Once the copy is ready, it can move to design. It doesn't matter if you're designing for print or web because WoodWing Studio does it all.
It integrates seamlessly with Adobe InDesign, so you can place copy directly into your annual report template and edit the layout. You can also integrate it with your web CMS to pull text into the web page for your online annual report. And all in just a few clicks.
That's not all though. Seamless integration with our digital asset management software, WoodWing Assets, means you can also effortlessly search and place assets into your designs too. Whether they're images, video or graphic design elements for data visualization.
It's that easy to turn your copy into an annual report layout - for both printed reports and digital reports - and ensure accuracy and consistency between the two.
Before WoodWing Studio, the main issue was managing our client edits on their financial reports. We’d layout the report using on-premise design software then send a PDF output to clients. They’d review it and email us amends. We then had to compile and make the amends, create a revised PDF and send it back to the client. Now, with the help of WoodWing Studio, time applying changes and sending revised PDFs is cut down. Clients can make their own edits on the report and return them to use within the system. We can make those amends immediately and clients can download a new PDF instantly with no need to use email or FTP to transfer file.
Ronnel San Gabriel, Tech Product Manager at Argyle
Read the full Argyle case study to see how they use WoodWing Studio for streamlined risk-free annual report production
Once your designs are ready, you can share them with stakeholders for feedback, amends and approval.
Because you're sharing content in real-time within the system, there's no need to create and share PDFs via FTP or email. Making for a much better stakeholder experience.
And it means all amends are captured WITHIN the system and all in ONE PLACE. You don't need to worry about amends getting lost or losing something in translation. You can see exactly what's changed, who changed it, who approved it, ask questions in real-time, and get to final decisions faster.
Plus you automatically have a complete audit trail of all amends. Ideal for financial reporting - or any section - where you want to cross-reference your finished annual report to the amends requested.
Benefits of WoodWing Studio for annual report production
- Secure collaboration - No need to share embargoed or sensitive commercial information via email or FTP sites. All parties collaborate in a secure system with no external file transfer required.
- Multi-stakeholder mark-up - See all stakeholder markup instantly in a single place - with on-page multi-stakeholder mark-up - and accept amends in a click.
- Reduced risk of inaccuracy - Reduce the risk of error and omission by applying stringent production checks and workflows, to make sure data is accurate before publication.
- Review and approval workflows - Streamline production workflows with review and approval workflows, that prompt relevant stakeholders to check, amend and sign off content.
- Automatic audit trail - Record all amends automatically, so you can find out who made changes and when, letting you quickly resolve any issues arising.
Ready for more control over your annual reports? Contact us for a demo today.