RUBIXCLOUD BLOG

JENNIFER A. KINZEL RECEIVES CLIENT ACCOUNTING ADVISORY SERVICES CERTIFICATION

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Maumee, Ohio November 27, 2017 – Jennifer A Kinzel, CPA, CMA, MBA has recently completed and received her certification from The American Institute of CPA’s (AICPA) in Client Accounting Advisory Services (CAAS). CPA.com and the AICPA collaborated with nationally recognized leaders to design and instruct learning modules to better educate and increase accounting professionals’ competencies in workflow analysis and design, consultative client interactions, emerging technologies, onboarding clients, and performing impactful client assessments. Aaron D. Swiggum, Managing Partner of William Vaughan Company, lauded Ms. Kinzel’s accomplishment. “Jennifer’s certification is a formal way of recognizing her tremendous skill and ability to service our clients in an effective, consultative way.  She has a high level of expertise and success working with our clients to understand and improve their financial metrics.” The American Institute of CPAs is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession, with more than 412,000 members in 144 countries, and a history of serving the public interest since 1887. AICPA members represent many areas of practice, including business and industry, public practice, government, education and consulting.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text]About WVC RubixCloud An affiliate of William Vaughan Company, WVC RubixCloud provides financial insight and leadership to help entrepreneurs, executive teams, and investors achieve new levels of success for their organizations. Services include a range of outsourcing solutions, from high-level CFO services to day-to-day accounting and everything in between. Identifying challenges and developing solutions that will help propel organizations forward is the goal of the organization.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/3"][vc_single_image image="701" img_size="full"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Jeff Meyer at 419-891-1040 or email at meyer@wvco.com.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Partnering with WVC RubixCloud using the Sage Intacct Platform

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/4" css=".vc_custom_1510078259622{padding-top: 10px !important;}"][vc_single_image image="696" img_size="medium"][/vc_column][vc_column width="3/4"][vc_column_text]WVC RubixCloud is a member of a select group of outsourced accounting firms that are Sage Intacct Accounting Partners. We don’t sell software, we simply utilize the benefits of this platform to deliver high value financial services to our clients.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]You may argue that you already have a software or you already have an internal team that can provide what you need when it comes to internal accounting. However, I would challenge that thought process. By partnering with WVC RubixCloud, we can offer so much more! Here are some of the unique benefits you may not have considered:  
  • o Process Improvements – Part of our process when partnering with you is to work closely with you to understand your business. This includes processes, people, workflows and needs. This allows us to identify opportunities for improvement, utilizing best practices combined with our platform and knowledge. The result is high value to your organization, creating maximum efficiency, productivity, and accuracy with the new workflows.
  • o Consultancy Services – We are laser-focused on providing quality outsourced accounting services that are far more than “traditional bookkeeping”. Our goal is to continually improve the value that internal accounting provides to all facets of your organization. In the case where processes span into Sales and Operations, we have impact there too.
  • o Localized Support – We will provide localized support at all levels. Our reach is not limited geographically, and we manage processes at the entry level, as well as top of the line with the owner of the firm. For something as important as accounting and finance that kind of accessible expertise proves to be a significant asset.
  • o Customization Options – Because we are so deeply engrained in technology, we are always seeking to improve our platform with integrations based on your unique specifications. If specific features and functions need to be adapted to better integrate with existing workflows or organizational structures, a we can do that.
  • o Client Growth– Some businesses cannot afford a deep accounting staff so we are an excellent choice for outsourcing the day-to-day accounting function. However, if your accounting staff is internal, there is expected high growth, and/or a need for strategic leadership, then working with WVC RubixCloud to outsource the pieces that will help your organization excel is also a great option.
  The key to success is to find a Partner for your organization that is committed to serving your needs. As you begin to consider your options, contact WVC RubixCloud for a complete discussion of your needs at no cost.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Labor Costs: Six ways employees are stealing time

[vc_row 0=""][vc_column 0=""][vc_column_text 0=""]If you are monitoring overall labor costs, you are starting in the right place. However, if your idea of monitoring the labor costs is reviewing the cost as a percent of sales each month, you are likely giving up profits to your employees for work not done! Let’s start with some of the ways that employees can steal time from you.
  1. The Buddy System- Using a co-worker to start the meter on the POS before said employee arrives. Basically, one employee (or friend) punches in for another when they are not there, or will be late. The best part? It likely goes both ways- so TWO employees are stealing time.
  2. The Cell Phone – calling, surfing, texting, playing…I cannot count how many times I have been in a drive-through and waited on an employee to finish a text before taking my credit card or handing my food. In addition, as I sit there and wait, I see other employees standing behind the counter using their phones as well.
  3. Clocking out for a half hour meal break, and taking an hour.
  4. Socializing with other employees or with friends who stop in to say hi instead of taking orders or preparing food or whatever their job responsibility is.
  5. “Forgetting” to clock in or out at the beginning or end of a shift.
  6. Unlimited access to edit time in and out in the POS after the fact.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row 0=""][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text 0=""]Studies have shown that this time can add up to nearly five hours per week per employee. Do we even need to do the math? Yes, let’s. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Make sure you add 15% for payroll taxes, worker’s comp insurance and other benefits that you are paying for, so your full cost per hour is $8.34. For one employee on a weekly payroll schedule, that’s $41.75, or monthly, roughly $170, annually, $2,171 per year. How many employees do you have? Can you afford to pay $2,171 each year for each employee that is not really doing their job? Do you want to?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/3"][vc_single_image image="688" img_size="full"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The next two questions you should be asking yourself are:
  1. How can I determine if employees are stealing time?
  2. How can I prevent it?
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Who Did it?

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/4"][vc_single_image image="656" img_size="full"][/vc_column][vc_column width="3/4" css=".vc_custom_1511295944690{padding-top: 10px !important;}"][vc_column_text]The Chamber of Commerce has done research that indicates three out of four employees will steal from you at least once. 50% of those same employees will steal again! Look at your crew….. which ONE is not the thief? What does that mean for your quick service restaurant business? [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]These employees might be walking out the door with cash- losing revenues is the most obvious. But what happens when they are stealing products that you must pay for? In quick service restaurants- that can amount to anything, and whatever they take adds up quickly. Some of the more obvious items that employees are stealing might be cash, office/ kitchen/paper or Janitorial supplies, coupons, perishable and non- perishable food items… the list goes on. Again, consider putting numbers on any of these items and see what the impact is to a single store location. Assuming that for every dollar in sales your food costs are at 21%, what happens to your profit margin if an employee steals $50 worth of food at the end of his shift tonight? For simplicity purposes, let’s assume your sales for the day were $500, and your normal food cost at 21% would be $105. However, because the employee stole $50, your food cost is now $155, or 31% of your sales. It appears that should be a glaring deviation when reviewing your daily food costs. However, many franchisees are NOT reviewing daily costs. Some only look at this information once each month and by then it might have smoothed out a bit so the food cost is only up 2% for the entire month. That 2% is easier to explain than ten, but if it is up consistently over averages then you want to find out which three out of four are stealing! How long would it take you to notice that food cost is 31% instead of the expected 21% on any given day? It is possible that sales of higher margin items just happened to spike at the same time, so unless you are diving in and looking at the details, you might not notice it. The real issue here is that $50 of product is $50 of product. It is cash out of your pocket because you must pay for it, and you are not able to sell it. You will never realize a return on that product. It’s important to recognize that theft occurs at ALL Levels- front line cashiers, janitorial, even store managers. The reality is that you will not be able to tell by looking at the person, or even by comparing the “historical ethical” background of the employee. If you are not aware of the 10/10/80 rule, you should educate yourself about who may be stealing and why. This rule states:
  • • 10% of employees are always honest
  • • 10% of employees are always dishonest
  • • The remaining 80% can be swayed based on opportunity and circumstance
  Bottom line, don’t give them the opportunity, and if it happens, you need to be prepared to catch it and stop it right away. Any operator that says it doesn’t happen in their operation is simply naïve or ignorant. When employee theft is estimated to amount to up to 10% of your revenues, find it![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Can incentives deter employee theft?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]There is no way to prevent every possible scenario of theft in your restaurant. However, you can put programs in place to discourage your employees from stealing from you. A good place to start would be to simply educate your staff. This education should begin with your policies and procedures related to theft, what controls you have in place to prevent it, and what the consequences are. Providing guidelines and expectations makes your team more aware as they go about their daily tasks. Employees should be trained and updated annually on these policies, and sign an acknowledgement each time that they have received the information and will comply with it. As part of that process, you can make them aware of the impact that theft can have on the bottom line and what the ultimate consequences for everyone will be. Educate your employees on how theft can affect your company in either increased costs or lost revenues. They may know that, but they might not understand the overall impact on the business. It is your responsibility to make them aware how quickly this number can multiply based on the number of team members who might be engaging in this type of activity and /or the types of theft. To discourage or practice prevention of employee theft, consider giving them incentives. It’s important that the incentives are relevant to your crew, which is another reason to have the discussion with them. A program won’t work if the result is an envelope with something in it that no one wants. Some examples might be:
  • • Set a target time frame that you are trying to achieve zero tolerance. Remember that the general rule is the shorter the better. It will not be helpful to set a six-month target. If, within that time frame nothing has been discovered (surveillance, register monitoring, employee monitoring) then give all crew members a small incentive.
  • • Reward employees that speak up and turn others in. Anonymous tip lines are great, but employees will be motivated to speak-up if there is something in it for them.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text]The incentives don’t have to be monetary. Here are some ideas:
  • • Choice of shift
  • • Choice of station (drive-thru/register/prep)
  • • Choice of location (if multi-unit)
  • • Gift card
  • • One hour of pay
  • • Other as customized to your team!
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/3"][vc_single_image image="639" img_size="full"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It is management’s responsibility to communicate this to the team and support it. IT might take a bit of administrative work or even a small investment in technology to assist in the monitoring, but the time invested will have big returns for you.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

What is this Cost For?

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/3" css=".vc_custom_1510258500707{padding-top: 10px !important;}"][vc_single_image image="258" img_size="full"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text]When I worked as a “traditional” CPA helping clients clean up their monthly numbers and dealing with year-end tax and accounting issues, that question was echoed repeatedly by business owners EXCLUSIVE of industry. The owner/ management team delegates the financial controls to an in-house team of one or many and as a true business owner should, trusts that internal controls and procedures are helping to validate the final numbers. Of course, that’s IF final numbers are received. My experience is that financials in small to medium sized businesses leave a lot to be desired in terms of accuracy and timeliness and generally require significant amounts of clean-up work.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When the statements finally reach their destination (owner/management team) the questions start coming.When the statements finally reach their destination (owner/management team) the questions start coming.  
  • • Who is the vendor XYZ?
  • • Why did we spend $6,000 on advertising last month?
  • • Why did we pay vendor ABC $3,231 in July?
  • • Why am I paying for laser lights? Do we use those in our business?
  • • What is that cost FOR??????
  The scariest part?  No one generally knows the answers without a substantial investment in time to look up the detailed information.  By now, it’s likely three to four months AFTER the expenditure was incurred. Wouldn’t you like to know those answers BEFORE you make the decision to approve the bill? Clients that have transitioned to our services find that they have a deeper knowledge of the costs that are being incurred by their organization as a natural consequence of our process and solution. Even if you are not the individual approving the bills, the business insight that we provide is real-time and accessible from anywhere, even your smartphone.  You do not have to rely on your team to wrestle with the stacks of invoices and filing cabinets or wait two weeks when you want to know “WHAT IS THAT COST?” With a quick click, you can immediately have:  
  • • The pdf of the invoice
  • • Who approved the invoice
  • • Review requirements
  • • History of all payments made to the vendor
  Wouldn’t it be nice to have the answer in your hands before the question arises? Outsource your accounting to us, and you will! Jennifer A. Kinzel, CPA, CMA, MBA Director, WVC RubixCloud[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Employee Theft: The “Regular” Customer

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/4" css=".vc_custom_1510078259622{padding-top: 10px !important;}"][vc_single_image image="531" img_size="medium"][/vc_column][vc_column width="3/4"][vc_column_text]According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, 5% of your revenues are going to go to someone else in your business INSTEAD of YOU! If right now- you could reclaim that 5% of your revenues for yourself, would you know where to start? The list is extensive- ranging from the obvious fact that employees can steal cash right from a sale in the drive through to less obvious transactions hidden in your POS system. Do you have a drive-thru that you frequent?  Let’s say, you visit a local fast-food joint every morning for your regular $1 coffee and $1 breakfast sandwich. You know that the total is always going to amount to $2.14, so you have it ready for the cashier.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]This cashier has worked here for six years, and while you don’t know each other personally, she recognizes you and your order and is prepared to give you the total and take your money. However, she never rings the order into the system, so she can pocket the cash. WAIT, you say- technology dictates that the order must show up on the screen so the employees in the back can make the sandwich and the automatic beverage dispenser can pour the drink.   At this point, a few different options can occur:
  1. She has a co-hort in the food prep area who is preparing the food and giving it to her so they can split the pocketed cash.
  2. Coffee does not get run through the “automated beverage system”- so if the order is just a coffee, she runs and grabs it herself and pockets the $1.07 with no help from a co-worker.
If there is only one drive through window, no one will ever notice unless they are watching physically or with a surveillance system.  If there are two windows, one to pay and one to pick up, it’s not uncommon to get a beverage in the first window if that’s all that you ordered. Let’s put some numbers to that $2.14 breakfast transaction.  Assuming that’s the only one and it’s a daily occurrence, your store has lost $781.10 in revenues for the year from that one customer. WAIT- there’s more.  Not only did you lose the revenues, you also must pay the food and paper costs for those items given away, and the labor time spent making it and transacting it. WOW.  Eyes open now.  And let’s assume if there is at least one regular customer, there might be five.   You have now lost almost $4,000 of sales for the year.  For those stores that only average $35-40,000 sales each month, that’s 1% of your annual revenues. For an industry where 1% can make or break you, this is significant. Is your financial system strong enough to tell you when these types of transactions might be happening? Follow our blog to help you dig deep and watch what’s happening in your quick-service restaurant that is cutting your profit margins.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

WVC RubixCloud Director's Discourse: The Journey To Clarity

[vc_row 0=""][vc_column width="1/3" css=".vc_custom_1510262461881{padding-top: 10px !important;}"][vc_single_image image="446" img_size="large"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3" css=".vc_custom_1510262483877{padding-top: 10px !important;}"][vc_column_text 0=""]  As Director of WVC RubixCloud, I am dedicated to helping my clients achieve financial clarity and efficiency. I take my job personally and enjoy making a positive impact on the financial health of businesses so they can ultimately make quality decisions about their future. The journey to WVC RubixCloud has been a long one, but one that has been the most gratifying in my twenty plus years of accounting experience. Here is my story.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row 0=""][vc_column 0=""][vc_column_text 0=""]My experience as an accountant started fresh out of college with William Vaughan Company. For the first three or so years, I was the traditional accountant. Submerged in the world of financial statements and tax returns, I did not really enjoy what I was doing. After collaborating on a few consulting engagements, I realized there was a whole new realm of accounting that I needed to be part of. Today that world is the part of CPA firms that is “not the compliance piece”. I helped lead that charge for WVCO. I started spending my time working as an outsourced CFO for William Vaughan Company. I spent weeks, sometimes months, working for clients to “right” their accounting processes during a transitional period. I really enjoyed my job and it provided me great insight into the multitude of inefficient workarounds created to perform daily accounting and administrative tasks. I used this knowledge along with my Master of Human Resource Administration to begin performing operations reviews for businesses. An operations review was essentially a walkthrough and documentation of the accounting function, which generated a few tangible products to the client:

• A detailed analysis of the overall function including what was being done in accordance with best practices and what should be modified

• Suggestions on how to incorporate best practices

• For those that engaged, detailed standard operating procedures manual that served as a resource for staff turnover or absence including screen shots and formal written documentation of each step of the task.

I always came away with at least one of, or all the following similar promulgating conditions:

• Those performing the functions were under-qualified, but the business could not afford higher paid, more qualified employees.

• The software being utilized was not the best choice for the Company. As a result, external steps were being utilized to achieve the desired results.

• The data being generated was usually untimely, confusing, and often misstated.

I spent many “public accounting” years helping clients with both the operational and the financial aspects of their business or organization. I provided numerous presentations on business financial reporting and the true meaning of the numbers delivered by internal accountants. I have worked with various software packages and completed countless training sessions. However, I always concluded that the people AND the software, even the million-dollar ERP packages, fell short. So, what changed? A few years ago, I learned of a new approach to help my clients. I found an innovative tool to help me do what I love the most: solving problems. Welcome to the creation of WVC RubixCloud! Numbers often present a puzzle, a problem to be solved. They tell a story that needs to be mapped out. I ultimately love designing that map and making the numbers portray the story effortlessly. Using reports, dashboards, performance cards, and KPI’s that mean something and allow the user to see and understand what is really happening to drive the success of their organization is what brings me the most satisfaction. While you may think WVC RubixCloud is new in town, the reality is, we have been around for over fifty years! I am now able to utilize my vast years of experience and significant resources that come with being part of William Vaughan Company to make businesses work smarter. I can offer those resources and experiences to my clients in manner that provides expertise way beyond the traditional bookkeeper that most organizations already employ. I am proud to be a part of a revolutionary movement towards financial clarity utilizing cloud-based advanced technology. My extensive accounting background combined with the long-lasting reputation of William Vaughan Company has offered WVC RubixCloud the chance to positively impact businesses in a significant way. This is not your ordinary outsourced accounting solution, but rather a game changer for the future of your business. Jennifer A. Kinzel, CPA, CMA, MBA Director, WVC RubixCloud[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

5 Outsourcing Mistakes To Avoid

Mistakes If you have landed here, you are probably looking to outsource some function of your business, specifically accounting. With today’s advanced technologies, many companies are enjoying the benefits of outsourcing. Whether you're outsourcing your accounting, human resources or IT function if an experienced firm can do it smarter and faster, why not let them do it, right? Experience has taught us that this theory may have significant truth, however, if you do not completely understand outsourcing and what it entails, success can be hindered. Whether you are new to outsourcing or considering switching providers, it is important to avoid these five outsourcing mistakes to ensure a successful outcome. Internal disorganization. If you are looking to outsource simply because everything is in disarray, it is time to “straighten up your house” first. Using outsourcing as a quick remedy may generate other obstacles which ultimately leads to poor results. Outsourcing the accounting function provides great standardized procedures for the pieces that are being outsourced, but if part of the workflow starts or ends in your office, you must first build your internal workflow to support the outsourced process. Focusing solely on the price. While outsourcing is generally much more efficient than in-house processing, the old adage “you get what you pay for” is applicable. You should look for cost-effectiveness combined with accuracy, not necessarily cheaper. Inability to identify your outsourcing needs. In some situations, it is not best to outsource every function. Only those processes outside of your core competencies. For example, a nonprofit that has customized contract billing on a governmental website. Is this something you want to outsource? One wrong entry and your funds could be held up for months. Let the program manager continue to do the invoicing and your outsourcing team can record the receipt of the funds! Eliminating company guidance. If you choose to outsource your accounting function, you have moved the functional task from your plate onto another. But don’t kid yourself into thinking that you never have to think about it again. Your company must be involved with the numbers on a daily basis. The end goal is to have a clearer picture and be able to make quality business decisions based on real-time data. Communication and collaboration are key to ensuring your objectives and goals are being achieved and this involves internal participation. Lack of internal processes. Outlining guidelines, processes and procedures are necessary to ensure success. Internally, these procedures must be set in place. If you have major cash flow challenges or a complicated and unique system that requires day-to-day decisions about what to pay and what to hold, outsourcing may complicate your system. If your challenges are a result of poor processes or lack of transparency, having a plan in place will make your outsourcing experience efficient and painless. Remember the goal of outsourcing is to eliminate inefficiencies and provide clarity to make better business decisions. Taking the time to prepare your organization and avoid common mistakes will make the process much smoother and less costly. Now that you have taken the time to recognize what to avoid, download our presentation on how cloud accounting services can change your business.
WVC-RubixCloud
WVC RubixCloud
 

Paradigm Shift: Moving Beyond A Bookkeeper

Business ThinkingIn a society of evolving technology, we are constantly faced with new ways to make our lives easier. Whether it be mobile check depositing or online prescription refills, our world has developed into one of instant information and gratification. No longer do we need to anticipate the delivery of data, it is now at our fingertips. Financial information about your organization should be no different. As technologies have advanced, the prior notion of “write-ups” and bookkeepers has evolved into real-time accounting, or cloud outsourced accounting. There has been a paradigm shift, one that moves beyond the traditional capabilities of a bookkeeper. For decades, businesses and organizations have employed bookkeepers and “write up” firms to maintain their financial books. The typical scenario usually employs someone to perform the day-to-day accounting functions such as paying invoices, writing payroll checks and performing other back office accounting duties. Most often, this internal staff member wears many hats for the organization including that of a receptionist, an administrative assistant, IT, or even the owner. Nevertheless, this individual is attempting to manage the organization's books based on limited knowledge. To supplement, a bookkeeper or a “write-up” firm is hired to close monthly books and prepare tax returns. The first scenario is utilizing your CPA firm to do “bookkeeping”. This is generally done at year-end when the financial statements and tax returns need to be prepared. A staff accountant is responsible for reviewing an entire year’s worth of general ledger activity and making sure that the postings are accurate, consistent, and the ending trial balance figures agree to all supporting documentation. Speaking from experience, it is not easy to untangle or remember transactions from twelve months ago. It is not the most efficient process, and what’s worse, the data is not accurate until the staff accountant has finished the reconciliation which is sometimes months after year end. What decisions can management make based on data that while accurate, is now historical? Another familiar scenario more common in the early days of my career was bookkeeping known as “write-up”. Clients wrote checks each month and at the end of the period forwarded the check stubs to an in-house bookkeeper. Those checks would be coded in a software, questions resolved, and a “management use only” financial statement generated. Again, accuracy may be achieved, but the financial statements for the month were not received in a timely fashion. There is a real disconnect between real-time business transactions processed daily and the after-the-fact financial reports received months later. Organizations accept this archaic model because it is all the have and know. This model is outdated! Stop seeking the help of a bookkeeper. Look to WVC RubixCloud to leverage advanced technology to provide your organization with a dedicated accounting specialist and a CFO to deliver real-time actionable financial and operational data. Customize your reporting to meet your needs and gain insight into your organization you never imagined possible. If you are ready to change your game and remove the burden of bookkeeping, then download our 9 Signs Its Time To Outsource Your Accounting handout below. Don’t rely on your historical data any longer! Move beyond the capabilities of a bookkeeper and engage an effective outsourcing team.  
9-signs
9 Signs It’s Time to Outsource Your Accounting

WVC RubixCloud "The Game Changer"

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There Is Gold In Your Numbers

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9 Signs It’s Time to Outsource Your Accounting

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There Is No Magic Formula for Small Business Success -- Only This

Robert-Reid11By: Robert Reid, CEO of Intacct I've been asked many times to lay out my magic formula for building a successful small or medium-sized business. I usually respond by saying there's no magic, only hard work and experience. While this is certainly true, the success of a small or medium-sized business depends on dedicated execution of the following: articulating a clear mission, hiring the right people, setting goals and measuring progress toward them -- and then resolving the inevitable conflicts that arise. The latter task is truly the tricky part! With that in mind, here are the five ingredients in my "not really" magic formula for small or medium-sized business success. 1. Develop a compelling mission. A clearly articulated, compelling mission attracts talent to the organization and encourages strong commitment to the team. It also acts as glue to keep members of the team unified over time. When formulating a mission, start with the why not how. Why is the company here? Why have other companies been unable to solve the problem? 2. Find the right people. Locating talented people with the right skills and experiences is essential, but that's the easy part. The hard part is finding people with the right character traits. I look for people who like working on a team. Many smart and successful people don't work well in teams, and it's harder to create a successful organization with them, in part because as the organization grows in size, conflicts become harder and harder to resolve. I also want to hire people who are champions of change and with a natural ability to establish plans, structures and processes. These traits are critical because people lacking them simply won't be able to support a rapidly growing organization. Ultimately, it's the personality traits of staffers (their attitudes, beliefs and actions) and their commitment to the mission that results in a company culture that's capable of fostering successful execution. 3. Set clear goals. The process of creating long-term goals and short-term objectives to support the mission is also essential for successful execution. Clearly articulating these goals helps ensure that the people and processes will be geared toward moving the organization in the right direction. Consider a school of fish or a flock of birds: If the goal is to move from Point A to Point B, no progress is made if each individual creature moves in a direction of its choosing. In a workplace each member of a company's team should strive toward the same goals. 4. Measure progress. Setting goals doesn't mean much if its not possible to measure progress in achieving them. Attach specific financial, operational and process-oriented performance targets to specific activities supporting the objectives. Measuring these activities against the targets offers a clear picture of the progress toward the long-term goals. Based on the picture that develops -- and with input from the team and the marketplace -- continually refine the objectives, supporting activities and measurement targets to ensure continued successful execution. 5. Be prepared to resolve problems. No matter how successful a company is in developing a compelling mission, hiring the right people and measuring progress toward goals, problems will arise related to strategy, execution and culture. To tackle problems, I like to start with the empirical data. I look at the progress made toward the measurable targets to determine what the problem really is. Is there a profile of the customers not adopting the company's solution? Are partners not moving forward with the company because of an unforeseen problem? Finding empirical data points can help in determine how big the issue is. Then I address the root cause. Did the company not understand the opportunity? Did team members not communicate effectively internally or have the right processes? Did the organization not provide enough services to customers? Has the competition successfully countered the company's messaging? With all the key stakeholders gathered in a room, I ask them to write down what they think is the problem's root cause. We brainstorm for a while to be sure every possible issue has been surfaced. Then I ask everyone to rate each suggested cause on a 100-point scale. We focus the discussion on areas of disagreement. This process enables us to quickly expose and address the biggest issues first. This is contrary to the practice at other organizations (focusing on agreement and ignoring outliers). But those who use this sometimes difficult problem-solving process say it can facilitate an alignment. Ultimately, ensuring agreement from all stakeholders about the approach and encouraging their contributions are the only ways to help an organization efficiently execute its plan and produce something better than what any other company can produce. --- Rob's content was originally published here.  

Security in the Cloud

Cloud Security As I mentioned in my previous post, there are a number of security implications to consider when converting to the cloud. Most cloud computing providers have already gone through a rigorous vetting process for their applications and data centers. Some provide their own data hosting center while others contract it out to a third party. The term security may refer to the physical security of your data in the cloud, the ability to access data from your own mobile devices, or even the protection of individual applications specific to your business. The following is a cloud security checklist of some essential questions and details regarding data center that you should consider when partnering with a cloud computing provider. • What class of data center do you use? The optimal answer would be a Tier 4 data center which offers built-in redundancies such as power supplies, internet connections, and hardware. These "redundancies" also refer to automatic backups.
  • - A redundant power supply means if the power goes out at the data center, a diesel generator takes over immediately to keep your system running smoothly until electricity is restored.
  • - In the case of internet connections, a tier 4 center has multiple internet connections to prevent the loss of data resulting from weather or service interruption
  • - Finally, redundant hardware means the data center has multiple drives, servers, etc. which guarantees an available backup file at all times.
  • How do I know the data in my applications is secure? There are multiple answers to the question. A reputable data center and cloud service provider will have some of the following characteristics:
  • - Policies and procedures are set in place to protect your data. These include administrative controls at the data center, as well as on-site to permit limited access to those who have rights to particular files and functions within your applications.
  • - Firewalls should be in place to protect against unauthorized third parties from accessing your data during transmission.
  • - Anti-virus detection software and data encryption software. These detect and remove viruses during transmission of the data, as well as encrypts the data when it's going from your provider to the data center.
  • If someone steals my computer or phone, can they access all my data from the cloud? Data is actually housed at the data center, not on the internal hard drive of your computer or mobile device. The beauty of the cloud is the ability to access your data from anywhere with an internet connection. A log-in and password will be required, therefore you are not at any more risk than you would be with traditional methods of online activity. • Make sure you have the terms of your engagement set in writing. The data provided is your, not the providers. Make sure there is documentation in place to retain your data if and when it comes time. In addition, you should also specifically outline a time frame for retrieving your data and a method. The choice to outsource your accounting services to a cloud-based provider is a big decision. Take the time to evaluate your options and to ensure each provider has the necessary standards in place to protect your data. For more information, check out our previous blog: Top 5 Myths About Outsourced Accounting.

5 Questions To Ask Your Controller

Controller QuestionsAs the office of the controller becomes ever more strategic—creating higher levels of financial visibility to help drive growth and profitability—the financial organization's relationship to the controller role must evolve as well. Specifically, today's CFO needs to work closely with the controller to ensure that, one, the organization gets the full benefit of the controller's talents and knowledge and, two, the controller's office is operating at the highest levels of efficiency and accuracy. Exploring the answers to these five questions with your controller will help create a stronger, more effective financial structure. In fact, your entire organization will benefit from a finance team that understands and controls sources of financial risk, implements more efficient processes, and develops deeper insight into both the financial and operational metrics of the business.
  1. How many manual journal entries are we making during the closing process?
  2. Have you reviewed compliance with local jurisdictions?
  3. How long does it take to close our books? What's holding things up
  4. Are we still using excel? If so, why?
  5. Can we integrate our financial information and our operating metrics?
To read the full whitepaper, click here.  

Sage Intacct's 7 Reasons to Move to Cloud Financials Now

The frantic pace of modern business shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, it is accelerating. Enterprises have to operate in an always-on, digital world in which we all expect results on demand. But their incumbent systems are letting them down. Traditional financial systems were typically designed in an era when it might take days or even weeks to collect and process information. The mismatch to today's high-speed expectations means the right answers don't arrive when they're needed. Modern, ambitious businesses need a financial system that's designed to operate the way they do – one that's adaptable, responsive, and ready to deliver timely answers on demand.   It's always tempting to postpone the necessary action – to put off change until another day. But when colleagues don't have up-to-date information, they risk missing crucial warning signals or remaining blind to developing trends. Margins stay under pressure because it's so hard to chase down costs. Customer billing questions are left unresolved. Key performance indicators constantly lag behind the curve. Every month that passes is yet another missed opportunity. Don't wait until a crisis forces your hand. The time to act is now. Fast-moving enterprises understand the importance of right-time information to compete successfully in a digitally connected world. They recognize the risks of delay and the rapid advantages a cloud financial system brings their business. There are seven reasons now is the time to move to cloud financials.     Click here to read Sage Intacct's complete whitepaper!  

Director's Discourse: What Is The Cloud?

Where advanced technology and client service converge is where you will discover the accounting solutions provided by WVC RubixCloud. As Director of Cloud Accounting Services, I have made a commitment to embrace innovative technology as our business operates through the integration of cutting-edge software and programming. One of the most common questions I receive is "what are cloud accounting services?" To acknowledge the efficiencies our solutions provide, it is essential for you to understand the cloud and how it works. Whether you know it or not, you use the cloud on a daily basis. If you log onto Facebook, pay your bills online, or surf the internet, you are using the cloud. Cloud computing, or the cloud, is the general term for anything involved in delivering hosted services over the Internet rather than on your local desktop. The cloud involves multiple remote servers which are networked to allow the sharing of data-processing tasks, centralized data storage, and online access to computer services or resources. The cloud permits higher volumes of information to be shared than the traditional direct connection to a server. What is cloud accounting? As Cloud-Computing-Converted Cloud accounting serves the same function as the accounting software installed on your computer. However, the program runs from outside servers and access to the program involves using your web browser, over the Internet. Cloud accounting employs the cloud to process your accounting transactions. Traditionally, businesses and organizations purchased accounting software, installed it on internal computers or networks, and processed transactions with the program. WVC RubixCloud provides an application (general ledger software) which is hosted on someone else's system, allowing you to complete your processing by accessing the program online. All of your data is securely stored and processed on a remote server in the cloud. How secure is my data? The cloud is often times more secure than being on your own network. In fact, cloud computing offers a level of physical and electronic security that an on-site server or a locked file cabinet cannot begin to approach. It's important to understand that data hosted in the cloud is managed by a data center. All data centers are different and independent. You need to make sure the data center you choose can manage the data you are processing. There is a whole checklist of security measures you should be aware of, and I will address those in a future post. Cloud computing offers more reliable protection from internal data loss than other communication methods because it gives you centralized control over your data. It's much easier to establish and enforce policies for a cloud-based system than for the individual silos of email accounts, physical media, applications and flash drives that handle on-site data storage. Is cloud accounting expensive? Computing in the cloud has proven to be significantly inexpensive compared to traditional methods. There are fewer overall costs associated with cloud computing. There is no software to install and maintain. The IT infrastructure required is simply a connection to the internet, whereas traditional methods include a series of networks, applications, and workarounds. Cloud computing provides you the flexibility to utilize only the services you want, when you want them, and at a fixed monthly fee. So, now that you know more about the cloud and cloud accounting, why should you make the transition? Check back later this week to find out 7 reason to move to the cloud! JAK

On-Site or In The Clouds?

Leaders of both large and small nonprofits face a myriad of challenges when it comes to selecting the "right" financial application(s) for their organizations. In a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey, CFOs cited staying current with changing technology as their greatest source of pressure. Nonprofit organizations are not exempt from this notion and typically face even greater pressures due to limited resource availability for technological upgrades. There are numerous packages available today which are specifically directed toward the various nuances of nonprofit accounting. While these systems may vary when it comes to functionality, the most important factor when choosing new software is the method of deployment. There are two main methods of deployment for new software applications: one is the traditional on-premise deployment, and the other, more modern approach, is cloud-based deployment. The traditional on-premise approach in simple terms is installing the software on YOUR server and networking it to YOUR team. This comes with the burden and additional cost of supporting the necessary IT infrastructure. Without a dedicated IT team, the risk involved in supporting and maintaining the infrastructure may outweigh any benefits. The cloud-based approach does not require the same infrastructure, but simply an internet connection and a device. This route offers the ability to shift the cost and risk associated with the IT infrastructure to the vendor. This makes more sense for nonprofits with the limited resource because cloud vendors have superior IT operating capabilities. Ok, We have decided on the cloud. What next? The cloud-based approach allows nonprofits to take advantage of real-time financial and operational reporting as a result of the accessibility – anytime, anywhere. However, not all cloud vendors are created equal. In fact, there are two very specific and different methods of using software in the cloud. One approach is a single-tenant hosted environment and the other approach is a multi-tenant or SaaS (software as a service) environment. A single-tenant hosted solution is defined as an application that is housed on a dedicated or shared server, but unique for each customer. In contrast, a multi-tenant environment represents one version of the software for all customers or users. When comparing the different deployment options for cloud-based software, multi-tenant solutions tend to have considerable advantages over single-tenant hosted solutions. Below are a few of the key advantages.   Multi-Tenant SaaS Solution:
  • Applications are more scalable, resulting in lower costs for the end user.
  • New customers or users get access to the same basic software, so scaling has far fewer infrastructure and maintenance implications for vendors.
  • It is easier to maximize the performance of the different elements in the technology, so optimum speed and reliability can be ensured at all times.
  • Ongoing maintenance and updates are typically included in the cost of the SaaS subscription, so end users don't need to pay costly maintenance fees in order to keep their software up to date.
  • When there is an update or upgrade, the vendor only has one installation of the software, compared to multiple installations in a hosted environment.
Single-tenant environments represent many different installations of the application which require independent management of each installation for every customer. Whereas, a multi-tenant environment represents a single platform to maintain which creates a much more efficient and effective support experience for the end user. When the time comes to test drive new financial software for your organization make sure you think about more than just functionality. The decision to move to a cloud-based solution can provide significant value to your organization if you have properly evaluated the scalability of different deployment methods. To find out more about WVC RubixCloud and our services, check out our presentation today. By: Nicholas Rediger WVC-RubixCloud
WVC RubixCloud
 

Does Outsourcing = Offshoring?

In some instances, outsourcing can be done offshore but by definition, they are not the same thing. Many business owners use the terms outsourcing and offshoring interchangeably. However, when examined more closely, it becomes clear that both have different in meanings. Outsourcing refers to work that is contracted out to a third party while offshoring is work that is completed in another country. You can decide to outsource, but not offshore.
OutsourcingvsoffshoringOutsourcing
Typically when a business or organization decides to outsource it is to fulfill a specific set of needs in a more efficient manner than can be done in-house. This might mean gaining access advanced skill sets and experience, advanced technology, and more competitive costs, just to name a few. A huge range of tasks can be outsourced and, therefore, many businesses find it to be a cost-effective option. In addition, outsourcing specific areas of a business provide greater efficiencies. Some of the most common areas to outsource include, human resources, information technology and accounting.
Offshoring
Offshoring is the process of outsourcing work to a country other than where your business is based. Work can be contracted out to an agency or individual. Businesses looking to offshore their work generally do so because they believe that it will reduce their costs. While that may be true, it has become apparent over the past few years that the cost analysis associated with these decisions is often missing relevant information. In addition, offshoring presents other obstacles. The transfer of work to another part of the globe results in time differences, communication issues and in some cases political unrest. While it may cost less to offshore business efforts, in some instances project quality suffers. Offshoring has become the hot topic of political debate in America as some argue it creates a loss of jobs in the U.S.
As the world continues to become more connected, understanding the difference between outsourcing and offshoring may prove to be important for your business. The best solution for your business or organization will be determined by the necessities. If your business requires high-level expertise and an expanded team of professionals, outsourcing is the best option. WVC RubixCloud is your answer. We are a game-changer for businesses and organizations looking to gain a partner in their financial well-being. WVC RubixCloud creates transparency and accuracy so your organization can focus on your mission. Click here to download 9 Signs It's Time To Outsource Your Accounting.
 

Outsourcing & Innovation

As technology continues to advance and market trends fluctuate, innovation is a must. Organizations must consistently re-invent and transform to ensure they meet the needs of their constituents. For some organizations, change is difficult and requires a complete shift in culture. However, for those organizations who embrace the future, innovation is natural and welcomed. Cloud-based outsourced accounting leverages advanced technology and innovation to bring clarity and efficiency to your accounting function. Here a just a few of the innovative technologies supported by outsourcing. Custom Reports & Dashboards One of the biggest obstacles facing nonprofit organizations is the unknown. The inability to predict grant funding, donations or other monetary gains makes program planning difficult. The lack of consistent funding makes current data essential. If this data is available, often times, it is disorganized and incomplete. With outsourced accounting data is processed in a timely manner so current data can be utilized when making decisions about the future of the organization. Client specific dashboards are available to access reports and analytics about revenue, cash balances, budget comparisons and trends. An organization’s dashboard is the nucleus of all transactions where data can be reviewed in real-time. In addition to the dashboard, outsourced accounting software has the capability of creating customizing reporting. No matter how unique the desired financial metrics required by an organization, tailored reports can be created to display specific information. Outsourced accounting is all about matching the needs of the organization to ensure their financial health is clear and accurate. InnovationTracking Apps Imagine a world where you don't have to rely on paper reporting to track transactions. Cloud outsourced accounting supports the innovation of apps which streamline your accounting function. Various tracking apps will support an organization's day-to-day functions and dramatically improve efficiencies in management and reporting. Executive Directors and other decision makers can track an organization’s cash flow and payments from the ease of their cell phone or tablet. The data is accessible from anywhere that has an Internet connection. Tracking your financial data through the use of apps will increase the accuracy of financial reporting and may also prevent fraud as your data is visible and transparent. Virtual Meetings Quality of service will no longer be limited by geography. Outsourced accounting offers a virtual workforce, one that is highly qualified and experienced. Utilizing advanced communication technology such as video conferencing and instant messaging, meeting with the team of professionals is simple. Organizations can now have access to high-level expertise, extensive resources, and quality training. It’s time to embrace innovation and experience the clarity and efficiencies cloud outsourced accounting delivers. Nonprofit organizations must adapt to new technology and its higher standards. Cloud outsourced accounting and the innovative technology it supports are the key to financial well-being. The ability to see numbers in real-time and know where an organization stands financially is something everyone should experience. Take the leap and let the innovation of WVC RubixCloud be your game-changer. Here are "10 Reasons You'll Love WVC RubixCloud"  

Top 5 Myths About Outsourced Accounting

MythOutsourced accounting is changing the way organizations do business. Not only can it provide clarity to how costs are incurred, where revenues are earned and highlight areas for growth, it can also make organization’s stronger. However, some are reluctant to explore the option of cloud-based outsourced accounting based simply on common misconceptions. Here are the top 5 myths and the truth about outsourced accounting and its benefits. Myth #1: Losing Control Of Your Organization Outsourced accounting actually enhances the control you have over your procedures and accounting data. Your financial processes will be standardized and established guidelines will be followed rigorously. You will have real-time data at your disposal providing you greater control of your cash flow and other performance indicators. Time and time again, our clients t feel they are no longer alone and have gained their own personal team of experienced accountants. Outsourcing has offered our clients the ability to work collaboratively and more efficiently to establish greater control over their financial well-being. Myth #2: Outsourcing Eliminates Jobs Many organizations have limited resources and as a result they rely heavily on their employees to perform multiple functions. Often times, employees are acting in roles in which they do not have any formal training. Wearing too many hats can lead to inefficiencies. Not only does this hinder growth within the organization, but it also adds stress to the employee. Outsourcing your accounting function allows your staff to be refocused on efforts that are more suitable for their skill set. Furthermore, the organization can now direct its resources towards their mission, funding and grant writing. Myth#3: It’s Not Secure Besides transforming how businesses function internally and externally, the growth of cloud computing also has a consequence on outsourcing data management. By partnering with WVC RubixCloud, your security can and will be improved. Security is a top priority and we have partnered with the leading software company to ensure data is protected. Furthermore, as a result of the shared access of real-time data, transactions are visible from any source with an internet connection. If a transaction has been completed and you are not sure of its nature, you can instantaneously take action. Myth #4: Outsourcers Don’t Understand My Business When you partner with WVC RubixCloud, you will gain a well-rounded team of financial experts who have worked in a variety of industries both in public and private sectors. We will collaborate with you to develop a comprehensive plan to maximize your organization's financial success. Myth #5: Outsourcing Is Only Viable For Large Organizations No matter the size of your organization, outsourced accounting options are flexible. One of the main advantages of outsourcing is the streamlining of processes to attain business efficiencies and actionable insights. Smaller organizations can benefit tremendously from the economies of scale offered through outsourcing. Frequently, the cost is considerably lower compared to having the work completed in-house. In conclusion, don’t fall victim to the most common myths of cloud outsourced accounting. Take the time to research the facts. Download our whitepaper, "There Is Gold In Your Numbers," to learn more about outsourced accounting and how it can be the game changer for your organization. there-is-gold
There Is Gold in Your Numbers

Is Your Accounting Team Rock Star Quality?

RockstarRock Star. Professional. Thoughtful. On your game. Wonderful. Detail Oriented. Thought leader. Dedicated. Proactive. Thorough. Late. Inaccurate. Slow. Inconsiderate. Second best. Painful. Careless. Incomplete. Unsure. Which words would you use to best describe the individual who is guiding the financial strategy of your organization? If you did not associate any of the words from the first list, then it’s time to evaluate your direction. The first list contains the words our clients have been using to describe WVC RubixCloud as we assume the role of their accounting function and alleviate their financial stresses. As recently as yesterday, a client expressed that she could not and would not make a cash deposit without first reaching out to the WVC RubixCloud team as we have become such an integral part of her everyday process. This is huge! This indicates our team is delivering the service and value that we intended to. When you make the decision to team with WVC RubixCloud you can expect game-changing results. Here are just a few of the personal testimonials about the ways in which WVC RubixCloud has positively impacted our current clients. On Your Game “A vendor incorrectly charged our organization more than three times than what was expected. The WVC RubixCloud team instantly recognized this erroneous charge. They were proactive in reaching out and scheduled a call with our organization and vendor to discuss the issue at hand and we were able to reach a successful resolve." Clarity I Didn’t Know Existed “Our organization has had unknown liabilities hanging over our heads for two full years. We had received notice after notice with no one able to untangle our issue. Within one week of onboarding with WVC RubixCloud and receiving the correct information, we have cemented 90% of the liability and are making payments to rectify the situation.” Dedicated Team “From Executive Director on down, my organization greatly appreciates the personal attention and energy expended by the WVC RubixCloud team to make our transition as smooth as possible.” Elite Professionalism “Thank you for your elite professionalism and research. Your financial summaries ease my mind and provide me the opportunity to confirm our improved practices with billing this year.” The decision to engage with WVC RubixCloud has proven to provide to our clients exactly what we set out to do: 1. Eliminate the stress of the accounting function 2. Provide timely, easily accessible and transparent financial information 3. Access to and reliance on a committed team to handle the day-to-day accounting duties 4. Access to a dedicated CFO to provide high-level guidance on issues previously undetected or overlooked 5. Dedicated time and ability to focus on important organizational issues such as fundraising, programming, or grant writing. WVC RubixCloud has become an integral part these organization’s successful financial future. If you are wondering how WVC RubixCloud can be a game-changer for your organization, check out the "10 Reasons You'll Love WVC RubixCloud" or call (419) 891-1040 to schedule an appointment today.  

Five Common Drains on Your Accounting Function

BlogPost3-thumbnail-imageFIVE COMMON DRAINS ON YOUR ACCOUNTING FUNCTION 5CommonDrainsThumb

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  1. Your staff complains that they don't have enough time to simply process day-to-day accounting transactions.
  2. You are rarely able to access basic reports in your system with real time information.
  3. When you ask for information or reports of any nature it takes days or even weeks to receive it.
  4. Your network drives and employee desktops are clogged with Excel spreadsheets.
  5. The monthly reports are not timely, are not directly generated from the system, and /or provide very limited data.
It is time to get into the 21st century! In years of performing operations reviews I have consistently seen organizations operating like "SALY"- same as last year. Unfortunately, it's now 15 years later and it's time to change! Many of you might argue that you "HAVE "to work outside of the system, and for a select few, I might agree. However, the majority are refusing to move outside of their comfort zone and replace the antiquated accounting process. What causes this? It's simple really. Your accounting team has chosen to work outside of the system. What does this mean exactly? You spend months trying to decide on a software package that best suits your business and after the financial investment and training all seems to be working like a champ. Six months after implementation the accounts payable clerk is trying to generate a specific subset of data through a report and cannot figure out how to make the system generate it. Instead of calling support, he exports the data and begins to manipulate it in Excel. This is the beginning of the entire organization shifting to a mindset known as "The system CAN'T do it." Hence, the new trend becomes to export the data to Excel and utilize Excel as the software. Believe it or not, this problem spreads with each passing month, ultimately resulting in turnover of low level AND key employees, and is virtually impossible to reverse without external intervention. Eventually, the Company does not pay for software updates or outside support because the accounting team has decided "it's not worth the money". The result? Instead of using current, efficient software, the accounting team has now "replaced" the software with Excel and designed new processes and procedures "outside of the system," not to mention the months of wasted time they spent learning the system in the first place. This leads to:
  • Inefficiency! - There is no time to process day-to-day accounting transactions when you are working outside of they system.
  • Lack of Financial Information - Though much of the transactional data might be in the software, it has not been pulled together because that is how the software is being used. Reporting is being done in Excel so there is no timeliness, visibility or drill down capability, and the nature of the reports are very limited.
  • Every Man for Themselves - Each employee is working with his own silo of information that he has exported, manipulated and saved to his hard drive. There is no consistency in the numbers, and there are hundreds of spreadsheets located on hard drives, networks, and flash drives that are difficult to index.
  • Errors - Excel is not error proof, and so many of these spreadsheets become overly complicated with users that are not overly sophisticated. Links get broken, formulas don't make sense, and data is not updated as it should be.
  • Stacks and stacks of PAPER - Because processes are not being followed in the system, accountants have this built in need to generate their own audit trail of everything that is being done- files, binders, reports- you name it. It's NOT necessary- not in today's digital age.
Solving this problem in your organization should be the highest priority. Unfortunately, most business owners don't even know it exists. Ask your accounting team a few simple questions to see if you need to dig a bit deeper:
  • Were all of the reports that I have received in the last three months generated directly from our software or Excel? If even a small majority originated in Excel, you need to investigate.
  • How current is the update on our accounting software? If the answer is more than six months ago, you have an issue.
  • Can you email me a copy of the income statement right now that is up to date? If the result is no, you have a problem.
Once you have identified that you have the problem, you can move on. Consider reaching out for help.

What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You. Until It Does!

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How many times have you heard someone say "You ask too many questions?" As a mother of four children, some days I feel as though my entire day is nothing but answering questions, and while I am thinking that very phrase, I would never say it. As an adult, I have always been very inquisitive - wanting to dig deeper and know more. It is how I understand whatever it might be that I am observing. Two weeks ago while holding a conference call with a client, she expressed to me that she was "very grateful for my questions." What a perspective for me! Because of my straightforward personality, I often find myself just shooting off questions left and right to gain an immediate understanding and apologizing later. That seems to be what I have done with her repeatedly, as I feel I have much to learn in a very short time regarding some of the specifics of her business. In this particular instance, and like many before her, she was never placed in the position to "need to know" the information I was requesting, and did not see the relevance of my thought process. As our relationship has evolved, and she sees the contribution that I am able to make to her organization, she is very appreciative of my perspective and never ending questions. Acting as her CFO and studying her business, financial, and operational data from a new and unique perspective has allowed me to expose to her what she never knew. What are some of the questions that are forcing her to take a different look at her business?
  1. Which of your greatest expenses provides the least amount of return? For example, if you are a distributor, your greatest expense is the product you are distributing, and second greatest is likely wages. After that, is it advertising? Are you able to measure the returns on that expense to see if the efforts should be redirected?
  2. What are your goals for growth? If you are a not-for-profit, you need to identify specific sources of revenue and develop a plan to pursue them whether it is contract funding or fundraising events. If you don't have a plan, it will not happen.
  3. What services should you no longer pursue and why? This is a tough question for most executives. It is usually difficult to answer because they don't have the information ready and available that is need to make the decision. There are places the company should "stay"- for instance, a product line that might be breaking even on the net income side, however, it is the "icon" of the brand and all orders include this product, so it needs to remain. Diving deeper will help you to understand how to maximize the benefit of that product that must remain. For a not for profit, it's assessing the social impact of your program against its cost.
  4. What was THIS cost for? You would be amazed at how many times NO ONE knows the answer to that question. If the numbers are small, and especially when they are big, there is no comprehensive oversight. How can you possibly cut costs or track spending when you don't know where the money is going?
  5. Are you constantly given little information and expected to make big decisions? Most business owners and directors will tell you they have the necessary information to make big decisions, but when you spend the time to go over their existing meager reports with them you will find that they know very little about what they are receiving, and more importantly, they don't know what to do with it. I ask questions that are specific to what they are trying to monitor daily. What plans do they have to grow or change? What is going on with the industry or technology that might significantly impact the future of the organization? These are thoughts that the management team is having, but not putting together collectively to inspire strategy for the organization.
CFOs should not to be left on the boundary of an organization simply to report on "bottom-line beliefs." CFO's should dive deeper. They should break the foundation. They should ask questions: Strange questions; Simple questions; Robust questions; Thought provoking, difficult questions. This will enable them to be an effective strategic partner, and show you what you have not seen before.