CFO, Accountant, Bookkeeper, ERP, Enterprise Resource Planning, Month End

Closing the Books – It Doesn’t Have to be Difficult

Below, please find a blog posting from a referral partner of L6S Business Consulting, Josh Szakal of Black River Technologies.

As a CFO, Accountant, Bookkeeper, or even someone who works alongside one of these individuals, you probably know that closing the books can be a daunting task. An added stress is if need to consolidate the books from multiple entities, and the only way to do so is by exporting your data from QuickBooks or some other legacy software package into Excel.

CFO, Accountant, Bookkeeper, Month End, Accounting, ERP, Enterprise Resource Planning

As a CFO, Accountant, Bookkeeper, or even someone who works alongside one of these individuals, you probably know that closing the books can be a daunting task.

If your organization is in this situation, know that you are not alone. In January and February of this year, during year-end for many organizations, Sage Intacct conducted a study to see how organizations like yours were handling closing their books. It was found that many companies simply dreaded the process, indicating that pulling everything together to get a clear picture was a tedious and drawn out ordeal. After the study, we published a free eBook detailing the results.

Perhaps one of the most telling quotes we heard was from a Hospitality Company that regularly deals with a 100 (that’s right, 100) hour close:

“Our year end is like a jigsaw puzzle. Once you’ve got everything assembled you can see the big picture, but until then it can be a jumble of random pieces of information. We run two seasonal businesses – a ski resort and a campground/day-use operation. Both entities have multiple revenue streams… in fact, they feel like 10 mini businesses in each entity.”

One interesting point that was uncovered was that many of the organizations that struggle with their month and year-end closes are running entry level software packages like QuickBooks, or legacy on-premises systems such as Dynamics GP.

The organizations that seemed to breeze through their closings and consolidations were running sophisticated cloud software packages. Take Mike Dolence of Pride Investment Partners as an example. He states:

“Intacct has drastically reduced the amount of time it has taken for us to close our statements — from several days to just a few hours. Additionally, the multi-book functionality has helped us in adding year-ending tax and audit adjustments thru a separate ledger, keeping our business books independent of our tax books. Through the reporting, we also are able to quickly bridge adjustments to our general partners, thus reducing the amount of time allocated to the year end review.”

Furthermore, we found that CFOs that were using the right financial software were making the shift from being just the company historian to being a proactive, data driven CFO, having access to real-time financial data to make informed business decisions.

All of the study results can be found in this free eBook called Closing the Books Barometer. In the barometer you’ll find our survey methodology, the vertical market breakdown, the number of entities being run by vertical market, and many thought provoking comments from both respondents and industry leaders. The barometer also provides links to other online helpful resources that can help your firm become more efficient with your month/year end closing and consolidation process.

 

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ERP, Enterprise Resource Planning, Enterprise, Resource, Planning, Production, Manufacturing, Systems

Making the Switch – Historian to Futurist

Below, please find a blog posting from a referral partner of L6S Business Consulting, Josh Szakal of Black River Technologies.

I have had the opportunity to attend various tradeshows and events as a member of the Black River Technologies team over the past few years. Time after time, I never cease to be surprised by the number of organizations that are still ‘chugging along’ with either an entry level software package like QuickBooks, or outdated on-premise solutions provided by Microsoft or Sage. The biggest issue I see with these organizations that have decided to remain with their legacy software, is that they have simply accepted the fact that their standard P&L and Balance Sheet are the only reports they will ever have to analyze their financial data.

Looking at historical data found on these standard reports is important, but by the time you have completed the preparatory work to produce these statements, the data is often stale and outdated. Recent research has indicated that many firms with multiple entities are undertaking laborious consolidation processes, usually outside their financial system, which not only takes too long to complete, but is also error prone.

Those organizations that have moved to best-in-class software are making the shift from being historians, documenting what has happened in the recent past, to owning their operations and driving what happens in the future. A prime example of a company that made this shift is Trian Partners, a multi-billion dollar asset management firm located in New York.

Their controller, Len Weedman states, “Closing the books to me is an official term that we accountants like to use to describe the month/quarter-end process. But, if you are making sure your entries are booked every day (e.g. cash is reconciled, revenue and known expenses are accrued) you could argue that your books are closed every day. This allows you to have continuous, consolidated reports that are always live.”

ERP, Enterprise Resource Planning, Enterprise, Resource, Planning, Production, Manufacturing, Systems

Intacct is an award winning ERP solution for various industries.

Trian made the switch to Intacct Cloud ERP and is utilizing powerful dashboard functionality to monitor important metrics such as Cash-on-Cash, Assets Under Management, Internal Rate of Return, Fair Market & Net Asset Values, and much more. Doing so has enabled them to analyze live data at any point during the month, compare it to historical data, and then make informed investment decisions.

Other Intacct users are ‘singing similar praises’. Linda Yates, CFO of Investa Services says “Intacct dashboards and reports allow executive management immediate access to updated cash information. Also, the consolidation features are amazing”

Check out this short video (2.5 minutes) to see how other Intacct users are:

  • Designing unique industry specific reports for deep analysis
  • Honing in on their business’s strengths & weaknesses
  • Slicing & dicing data producing meaningful ‘what-if’ scenarios/analyses

If you are interested in learning more about how your organization can benefit from advanced financial dashboard functionality and continuous consolidations, I would invite you to call us any time.

Also, be sure to check out our blog as well as follow us on LinkedInTwitter & Facebook to keep up with the latest insights in Cloud Accounting.

How Are You Competing – Customer Relations

Customer service 06This is part 4 of 4 blogs which will cover the different customer value propositions that a company can use to compete in the market place.

Warren Buffet, when looking at companies to invest in, requires a ‘competitive moat’ around that business. That moat makes it hard for competition to take shots at the castle. In the world of strategy, that moat could be considered a blue ocean strategy where your company is in the middle of the ocean and no company can touch you. Some people may consider this to be “the promise land” or the “Meca” of business. In many cases, this moat is developed by offering great customer relations. Of the 4 ways to compete, strong customer relations is the hardest to defeat.

If you make a mistake, your relationship with your customer can be your saving grace. Many people appreciate good customer service and are willing to pay a premium to receive that service. In following this type of competition, you are able to set up your brand to be a main point of contact when your consumer has a question. It is a relationship that constantly needs to be nourished and improved up. One major false step or a sense of betrayal, consumers may take a ‘break’ from the company.

Apple is a company that has the reputation of having strong customer relations. Even though the latest iPhones, in the minds of some experts, are just catching up to Samsung, there are people that line that up for days to get the new iPhone. Apple is able to make people understand that they make technology easy to use for the average person. That is their connection to their consumer.

When you think about excellent customer service on a consistent basis, who do you think about? Is there a company you always find yourself buying from?

Have a productive week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for the South Edmonton Business Association, the Fringe Festival, Goodwill Industries of Alberta and donates blood at the Canadian Blood Services.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867. You can also follow Kevin on Twitter at @L6SBC or Facebook.com/L6SBC

 

How Are You Competing – Innovative Product

forget-your-customers-develop-innovative-business-models

This is part 2 of 4 blogs which will cover the different customer value propositions that a company can use to compete in the market place.

Competition is something natural for people. We all have a competitive streak. Some of those streaks run deeper than others, but it is still there.

When companies are competing against each other, competition can take on different forms. We have already looked at operational excellence, where companies want to be known as the cheapest in their industry. Is there a way to compete where you could be the most expensive in the market but yet consumer are accepting of it?

What if you consistently brought on new technologies, usages, or ideas to market? Would your consumer pay a premium to buy the latest and greatest item? Many do and some companies compete on that basis.

Many innovations in the car industry get their roots from Toyota Motors. They were able to find ways to bring new technologies and usages for cars that other automakers hadn’t implemented. Products made by Toyota are generally higher, in terms of price point, than their competitors.

Being an innovative company does come with pitfalls. What do you do with your corporate strategy when another company leap frogs your cutting edge product? Do you add extra resources try to leap frog them so you are back in front? Possible, but research and development into products is not a cheap venture. Do you have the financial and human capital to orchestrate that leap? You could be spending a fair amount of resources try to get back in front but never get there.

What company do you consider to be a consistent innovative leader in their industry? Any companies you felt were in that position but haven’t been able to keep up to change lately?

Have a productive week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for the South Edmonton Business Association, the Fringe Festival, Goodwill Industries of Alberta and donates blood at the Canadian Blood Services.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867. You can also follow Kevin on Twitter at @L6SBC or Facebook.com/L6SBC

 

Marketing In a Weak Economy

This article was originally published on the BusinessLink’s website.

Small Business Week (Oct 16-22) is an exciting time for entrepreneurs with great events across Canada offering small business owners multiple opportunities to learn and connect. One of the many events that I attended was organized by Business Link named “Ignite Small Business Week YEG: Marketing in this Economy!?”

The highlight of the event was to hear Randy Brososky from the Group of Rogues speak about how companies should market themselves during a period of weaker economic growth. I have heard Randy speak before and I knew that he would bring great knowledge to business owners to help them grow their business.

SOLVE A PROBLEM

When you are looking to market your company and its offering, remember: “To a fish, the universe is water.” In terms of your company, you truthfully have to look at yourself from the viewpoint of your customer. What problem(s) are you solving? Are you making the purchasing process logical or emotional? Are you tying these items together to make it easier for your customer to choose you?

WHAT ARE YOU REALLY SELLING?

Rolls-Royce is well known for selling cars but they also make jet engines. They understand from the view point of their end customer- the more time that a jet can be in the air, the more money airlines make. With that in mind, Rolls-Royce does not ‘sell’ a jet engine; they sell time in the air. They repair their engines for free. The only time that Rolls-Royce charge for their engines is when that engine is flying in the air.

FIVE TIPS FOR MARKETING IN A SLOW ECONOMY

Here’s what marketing guru Randy Brososky shared at the event:

1. CUSTOMER CONNECTION: Stay in touch with your customer but don’t sell to them. By keeping that connection open, when the economy starts to swing upwards, your customer will remember you and go to you first.

2. SHIFT HAPPENS: People shift their spending habits as times change, but are you shifting along with them? 10 years ago, Tim Horton’s coffee could only be bought within their locations. With the shift to home brewing and Keurig cups, Tim Horton’s coffee can now be purchased in grocery stores (or in their locations) in grounded bean format or within Keurig cups.

3. SMART DISCOUNTS: Offer 2 for 1 deals but the deal is only activated after you have involved your customer. For your customer to get a 2 for 1 deal, have them bring a friend. You can also have your customers become brand ambassadors. Offer them discounts when they speak to their community about you.

4. BEAT THE FEAR: Ask your customer what is holding them back from purchasing from you. Hyundai accepted vehicle returns if their customers lost their job during the recession of 2008. They gained market share and saw positive sales growth while other car manufacturers were going bankrupt.

5 NEW VALUE OFFERING: Look at how you can make your customer feel like the centre of the universe. Can you offer a lower cost item to your customer but still solve their problem and fulfill the same emotional desire? Can you sell what you are offering in a different fashion?

Even with a slower economy, companies still do want to increase their top line. At the very least, you can set yourself up for success during the upcoming growth phase by staying in touch with your customer, talking about the value you create, and tapping into your customers’ emotion.

Have an awesome and productive week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for the South Edmonton Business Association, the Fringe Festival, and Goodwill Industries of Alberta and donates blood at the Canadian Blood Services.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867. You can also follow Kevin on Twitter at @L6SBC or Facebook.com/L6SBC

 

What to Write.

4857508633_86fb572818_z(1)I have been blogging for about a year now, mostly on topics or events within the business world. A common question I get is “Where do you find your subject matter?” As with anyone else, I was nervous about starting a blog. If you want to be successful in blogging (you can define success as you wish), you do need to be consistently posting to your blog. That made me even more nervous because I was aiming to blog on a weekly basis, but where would I get 52 topics every year?

Actually, it isn’t that hard to find topics to blog about.

Reading: I follow a few people on Twitter and WordPress who write interesting blogs. Sometimes, I write my own blog expanding on their subject matter, maybe putting a twist on it, or actually looking at the subject matter from a totally different angle. The same can go for articles. I am constantly reading different articles from business publications to keep my knowledge fresh and up to date.

Asked: I have had a number of people ask me to research and write about certain topics that I have an understanding about. These blogs are pretty fulfilling for myself since I am helping to solve a burning problem that someone within my network has in front of them.

Observation: I love to watch what is going on around me. Things could be playing out with a client or watching an event unfold in the media is always interesting. In either case, I find myself learning one or two things at that time. I might get my curiosity perked up on a certain subject matter that pushes me to do some added research. These blogs are ‘fun’ because I commonly find something out that I didn’t expect. In any case, these blogs involve more ‘thinking’ than the other types of blogs because I am commonly bring something to light from a totally different angle than anyone else.

Do you have a blog? What is your inspiration? Is there anything that is a burning question from you?

In case anyone is wondering, I came up with the idea for this particular blog while doing a training ride for my MS Leduc to Camrose Bike Tour ride. Blog ideas come up when you least expect it.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Picture Source: Owen W Brown from Flickr Common Creative

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.