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.

Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP, Computers, Systems,

Best-in-Class vs ERP Suite

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

The age old decision between choosing a Best-in-Class software solution vs an All-in-One Suite package is a heated topic that should be at the forefront of your mind when selecting a software solution.

Before making the decision, you first need to understand what the key differences are. The aim of a traditional suite software package is to provide businesses with one stop shopping for all their software needs. In the world of ERP software, suite vendors provide solutions that handle everything from financial management, and point-of-sale, to CRM.

The benefit of moving forward with a suite software package is that all of your data is located in one place, and integration between applications is handled by one developer. On the flip-side, the biggest downside to suite packages is that they are usually ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’. You may take comfort in the fact that you have an all-in-one solution that handles your entire business, but might soon find that the functionality you really wanted is seriously lacking. Restricting yourself to a suite software package restricts you the R&D efforts of its software developer, which is likely spread over a wide range of products, instead of focusing on one specific area that makes them best-in-class.

A Best-In-Class software solution on the other hand strives to be the best in one area of significance and focuses all of its efforts in this one area. Choosing a best-in-class approach allows you to choose the best solution for each part of your business, enabling you to get the most out of software automation. Using Intacct as an example, financial management is the #1 priority of software development. The solution provides greater functionality and flexibility with respect to your finance and reporting needs, and offers integration to other software systems where applicable. Take Salesforce.com as an example. This software is the leader in providing CRM solutions to its customers, and seamlessly integrates with the Intacct Quote-to-Cash process, allowing the experts to focus on their respective areas of functionality where they each do extremely well.

We at Black River Technologies believe that a best-in-class approach is the direction your organization needs to take to truly excel in your business processes. This is the approach that is going to allow you the freedom to make the right decisions with respect to software automation at each stage in your business’s growth cycle.

Want to learn more about what best-in-class ERP software has in store for your organization? Click here to learn how to elevate your ERP experience!

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.