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.

Book Review: The Remedy

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The Remedy

There are few business concepts which are applicable across any company in any industry. From solopreneurs to multi-national conglomerates, the principles of Lean Management are a tool to improve the culture of a company.

I recently got the chance to read “The Remedy” by Pascal Dennis, which is a real life story about how lean was applied across a large car manufacturer.

Lean is predominantly known to be a process to decrease waste within manufacturing processes. Through the travels of Tom and his sensei Andy, stories are told on how Lean Management is applied within non-manufacturing settings.  The reader is taken through a journey where common obstacles of dealing with a company that is heavily placed into silos, non-communitive, and insular culture are dealt with. You get the opportunity to see how Lean Management can be applied in the non-manufacturing departments of Human Resources, Marketing, Product Development, and Accounting.

The reader is introduced to many of the basic concepts and terminology of Lean Management (for example the 8 types of waste) in the style where Tom, the plant manager of the shining star of Taylor Motors, is taken from his current role to lead the development and launch of a new car, originally known as the Defiant.

If you want to learn more about Lean Management, this would be an ‘average’ book to pick up. The Japanese terminology is used throughout the book which can make things confusing at time. There are great animations throughout the book, but at times, too many. It gave the feeling that you were reading a Pictionary book at times.

I personally don’t see this book as being a good starting point if you are a novice to Lean Management. Lean is best learnt within a manufacturing setting since the subject matter can be visibly seen. The author previously wrote “Andy & Me” which details the journey of transforming a manufacturing plant towards being Lean. This book would be a good starting point.

Do you have any books about Lean and Lean Management that you recommend?

Have an awesome 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.

How Are You Competing – Operational Excellence

excellenceThis is part 1 of 4 blogs which will cover the different customer value propositions that a company can use to compete in the market place.

Every company competes, in one way or another. Either they are competing to get attention with a gorilla marketing strategy or to simply get new customers. Competition is a fundamental part of any marketplace. Unless there is a monopoly or duopoly in place, market forces are moving resources between companies.

The weakest of all modes for competition in business is operational excellence. In the eyes of the consumer, you offer the cheapest product of all solution providers within your space. Your business model is based on maximizing your capacity and selling as much of your product as possible.

There is one Fortune 500 sized company that comes top of mind when you think about a company that is operationally excellent….Walmart. Walmart, in the eyes of the consumer, is the cheap place to go, in general, when you need to buy something. They are not very innovative in their offering. Customer service, well, you have to be able to find someone on their store floor to consider customer service. Lastly, quality products is not something that rings with Walmart.

When you create your company with a business model of being operational excellent, you are more than likely to attract a large portion of consumers. Who doesn’t want to save money?

But in following this model, it becomes hard for your company to raise prices. You have to ensure that you stay top of mind for your consumer when it comes to buying something cheap. But what happens when someone else decreases their prices below yours? Well, if you are tried and true to your strategy, you will decrease your price too. This will only start a race to the bottom. In reflection, you have just commoditized your offering and your consumer will always go to the cheapest name, no matter who it is.

There are some circumstances where being the cheapest in the market is the best position. You may be focused upon an economically sensitive target group which is under served. Perhaps you are entering a new market with a new product and you want to help accelerate adaptation of your offering.

Does your company want to be the cheapest in its industry? What companies do you see fitting that bill?

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, Goodwill Industries of Alberta and donates 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

Need to be Organized

being organized

Being organized is something that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. In some cases, what may look like a mess to someone, like the below picture, may be the organization system of the owner.

being unorganized

Being organized goes past how you have your desk organized, your papers filed away, and the cleanliness of your desk. What about the organization of that one valuable commodity that we can never get back and we never have enough of? Time!

During a recent luncheon, I was asked how I stayed organized with the different activities I am involved with. I will admit, I didn’t give an ‘organized’ answer because it is more than one thing.

Calendar: I block time off in my calendar to do certain tasks. The times and tasks are paired up so that my time is used up most efficiently. Items that require more creativity are done in the morning, for example. If you have taken or read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People course or book, you can equate this to scheduling my big rocks.

To Do List: I keep my to-do list by my side at all times. That is my North Star to what needs to be done today. For people that know me well, I am very goal driven. My goal each day is to complete everything on my to-do list.

The last thing I do during my work day is review my to-do list and make my to-do list for the next day. I don’t want to spend time reviewing my previous days’ work to figure out what I should be doing today.

Communicate: I freely communicate to my colleagues and customers about my time availability. Most commonly, I keep my Mondays and Fridays open for my clients. It seems to be the easiest for them to meet with me. I am either meeting with my clients or working on their projects, at the very least, on those days.

Emails: Many people forget that email can be a very big time waster. Some simple suggestions would involve paying attention to the emails that you read and don’t read. If you find yourself deleting emails from companies where you somehow got onto their mailing list but you are not interested in them, take your name off the distribution list.

I have noticed that I have received the vast majority of my emails by 2pm every day. I do a quick scan of my emails first thing in the morning to see if there is anything pressing. If there isn’t, I stay away from my emails until 2pm. Together with the first email tip, I can be done dealing with my emails within 15 minutes.

Distractions: It is very easy to get lost in Facebook and Twitter for hours.  Working from home, it is also easy to get distracted with folding the laundry or just listening to music. Limit your own time on social media. Use it as a reward for breaks that you take.

Do Take Breaks: Make sure that you give yourself a break. A short 5 minute walk around the block can do wonders for waking yourself up and revitalizing your energy for the next hour or two.

What do you see as your biggest challenge for being organized with your time? Is it an external factor or is it yourself? It is very hard to come up with a solution if you haven’t identified the problem.

Have a great 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 different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

Midway Check In

80023028_9202c3d6cf_zIt is half way through the year which means it is a perfect time to check in with our goals. You may find it comical that I check in with my goals on a quarterly basis. That is not the end of it!

I actually review my goals and the plan to reach my goals every Sunday morning. My goals and plan are actually right beside my computer monitor so it is always top of mind. I try my best to ensure that the actions I take are in line with my plan to make my goals a reality. It is one thing to have a dream, but it is another thing to have a plan to reach that dream. I don’t plan on dreaming away my whole life, so I would rather get things done to reach those dreams.

I have been progressing nicely on my personal goals. I have hit some bumps in the road, but as we all know, success is not a straight line up.

successisnotstraight-part2My work goals have been doing much better. Even with my best efforts, some goals have obviously fallen off of the way side. Actually, they have fallen so far away that they can’t be seen any more. I am currently re-evaluating if those goals are possible. Based on current conditions, there will be a pretty big shift in my skills development goal that I had set out. In the end, those fallen goals were not SMART goals. Upon retrospect, they were not realistic with everything else going around me and in some cases, the timing of having the goals achieved is poor.

Are you keeping up with your goals that you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? Have you made any adjustments or you have just fallen off of the wagon? I am very goal orientated so I used those goals to drive me. You might not be goal orientated but you do have driver that keeps you going. As long as you are progressing forward, you are moving in the right direction.

Feel free to share with me your goals. We can help to keep each other accountable.

Have an awesome 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 different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

In Life as In Sport as In Business

ray rice

Growing up, I was told that playing sports will give you skills and lessons that you can use in everyday life. As a matter of fact, I like to giggle at ‘reality TV’ since I don’t consider it to be very real at all. I personally consider watching sports to be the closest thing to reality TV.

In playing sports, you can learn:

1.      Team Work: Your coach and team mates are there to guide, support and mentor you. Family, friends, work colleagues and your boss (hopefully) do the same for you in life.

2.      Self-Discipline: To improve at a sport, to improve as a person or as a colleague, practice and repetition helps. Don’t be scared to be placed in a sticky situation. It will happen more than once and when it does; you will be prepared.

3.      Perseverance: Obstacles are something that you will meet everywhere. Opponents on the field, a friend who doesn’t want to travel or a co-worker who thinks your idea is faulty. Everything can be worked through as long as you try.

4.      Focus: It is very hard to attain something if you don’t make it a goal. That focus can be used to fuel your perseverance and get things done.

5.      Accountability: You are accountable to your team mates, coaches, and fans when you play sports. The team that you have developed around yourself will help to keep you true to your focus and your end goal.

Last Monday, a video surfaced showing Ray Rice punching his then fiancé Janay Palmer in the face, knocking her out cold. I guess that Ray Rice forgot the sport lessons of Team Work, Self-Discipline, Perseverance, and Focus. He is, I am very happy to say, learning now about Accountability.

Now, with the multi-billion dollar brand of the National Football League (NFL) tarnished, will Roger Goodelll follow suit and become accountable to the team owners? Only time will tell.

What did you learn from playing sports? If you didn’t play sports as a kid, where do you think you got many of your life’s learning?

Kevin

(Photo credits from Left: Rob Carr/Getty Images, Andrew Burton/Getty Images)