7 Steps to Speed Your Financial Close

7 Steps to Speed Your Financial Close

Resources

7 Steps to Speed Your Financial Close

By Paul Johnson
CPA, CGMA, MBA

The accounting function tells the financial stories of your business—stories that influence management decisions. Problem is, executives need financial information almost on-demand. To meet this need, CFOs and controllers must evaluate their financial close process, and find a way to do it faster and better. These seven steps can help.

a group of people work to close a deal

1. Begin with “why”

Identify why you need a fast close, and what stands in your way of achieving it. John Kotter, a leading change management expert, notes that half of change initiatives fail at the start because people misunderstand the need for change and the urgency for doing so is not well established.

Some legitimate business reasons why you need a faster close process may include:

  • The need for more timely information
  • Better access to financial resources Lower costs, including reduced audit and compliance costs
  • Freeing finance to work on higher-value tasks to support the business

2. Find the right “who”

In this case, it’s a guiding team comprised of a cross-section of key stakeholders who have the drive and persistence to see your initiative through to the end. This guiding team is essential to getting buy-in and improving collaboration—both between finance and other departments and within finance itself.

3. Define the “what”

Set a goal for how fast you want your close to be. Most companies try to do it in five days or less—some even in one day. Brainstorm with your team what it would take to achieve a one-day close, and compare the gaps between where you want to be and where you are now. This includes identifying points in the close process that might be causing bottlenecks.

4. Attack the “how”

Now you can redesign your close process by reconfiguring the combination of people, technology, or process steps to be more efficient:

  • People: Make it a team effort, and be sure to get buy-in from across the organization.
  • Process: Do as much work as possible in advance of the period end date, such as bank reconciliations.
  • Technology: Most importantly, invest in an integrated financial management system such as Sage Intacct. The more that everyone feeds data into one system, the easier it will be to achieve a fast close.

two people working to close a deal

5. Kick it off and get buy-in

Alert the organization about your faster close process, and encourage others to provide feedback. Be open to accepting new ideas that could improve your close process.

6. Remember that actions speak louder than words

Take a managed and phased approach to your plan. This includes identifying early wins that can be implemented on your next period close. The goal is to reduce your close process by another day with each iteration of the process until you achieve your goal.

7. Institutionalize continuous improvement.

You can learn from every completion of the close process. Do this in a positive way, by asking what went well. Inevitably, you will also learn what needs improving. Use lessons learned and problem-solving techniques to better the next round of the close process.

A fast close leads to more timely information, which improves decision-making. Achieving a fast close means working smarter, not harder, which requires an investment in people, process, and/or technology. The good news is you don’t have to go it alone. Contact Altasphere Consulting. We have the technology and expertise to make a faster close a reality for your business.

Are You a CFO Adrift or Tech-Sharp and Steering the Ship?

Are You a CFO Adrift or Tech-Sharp and Steering the Ship?

Resources

Are You a CFO Adrift or Tech-Sharp and Steering the Ship?

By Paul Johnson
CPA, CGMA, MBA

Technology allows us to do so much more with our data these days, which means CFOs need to do so much more keep up. Today, the best CFOs aren’t just CFOs. They are analysts, collaborators, strategists, and futurists.

They are capable of driving their financials, and their company offerings, to modernize and transform the way their company grows.

To do all this, a CFO needs to be tech-smart in order to leverage data to its fullest capabilities, using the newest features in cloud computing, and building strong strategies for future product and services development.

Do you measure up, or could use some help in sharpening your tech focus? Let’s find out.

cfo working on computer

ENLIST AUTOMATION

Tech-savvy CFOs support their teams by automating as many repetitive, time-consuming tasks as possible. This conserves time and resources to use more wisely on activities that are strategic in nature to boost growth and continue to drive success.

INITIATE COLLABORATION

Collaboration boosts productivity, enhances efficiency, and bridges gaps between companies and departments for more results-oriented strategies, and streamlined project management. CFOs that bring on collaboration tools uplift their teams and conserve resources in the long run.

EMBRACE VISIBILITY

Today’s CFOs need a bird’s eye view into business performance – past, present and future, to put actionable steps into play in response to performance. CFOs need an overview AND deep into performance that can only come from working and reporting from the cloud.

cfo discussing finances

POSSIBILITIES-DRIVEN

CFOs, rather than play it safe, now need to work from a position that invites possibilities, healthy risk, and brave strategies. To grow a company means to also future-proof it, and that requires strategies that are designed from comprehensive data analysis and financial agility to adapt with the changing times in industry and technology.

FIND CONFIDENCE IN THE CLOUD

On-premises software, while familiar, may not only be hampering the productivity of your teams with mountains of spreadsheets and painful workarounds. It also holds growing companies back from success-driving tools such as collaboration, deep visibility and time-saving automation.

Tech-smart CFOs know that the cloud offers value in time and resources, and that rather than running from change, they know they need to embrace it, research the cloud for the right security and technology fit, and then make a move that is right for their company.

Sage Intacct, a best-in-class financial management solution offers solutions that tech-savvy CFOs need, like:

  • Deep data automation for strong accuracy, reporting and less manual entry.
  • Strong collaboration on accounts, right down to the transaction for communications clarity with clients and coworkers.
  • 24/7/365 access to updated data from customizable dashboards showcasing your key metrics for strong reporting, decision-making and growth strategy design.
  • Lock-tight security in the cloud, and dedicated data centers with redundancy, and behind-the-scenes updates.

If you could use more control over your financials, we can help find the right solution to steer growth.

Is Quickbooks Draining the Life Out of Your Growth?

Is Quickbooks Draining the Life Out of Your Growth?

Accounting 101

Is Quickbooks Draining the Life Out of Your Growth?

By Paul Johnson
CPA, CGMA, MBA

With company growth, sometimes the change in your financial processes is subtle, making it difficult to know whether you need a stronger financial management solution to handle your company’s increasing complexities.

Your teams see it in the number of modifications they make to their monthly processes to pick up the slack where Quickbooks leaves off. However, inconveniencing your teams isn’t the only way Quickbooks affects your business. Let’s take a look:

quickbooks app on phone in pocket

Too Many Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are helpful to a point, but Quickbooks users often need them more than is healthy for data accuracy.

The more you rely on exporting data to Excel spreadsheets, the more vulnerable your financials are to cascading errors in data and book closings, and in lack of compliance.

Reliance on Manual Entry

Because the majority of companies don’t integrate Quickbooks with their other solutions, those businesses suffer, risking wasted time and resources each month with manual billing and data entry.

AP and AR teams need solutions that sidestep the endless CSV files, and hours of rekeying and automate their billing, and transfer data into disconnected systems if they are to adequately handle growth.

Limited Views into Financial Metrics

Because Quickbooks lacks dashboard reporting, fast-moving companies still using Quickbooks are forced to make their decisions based on aging data. This means they risk effective growth strategies for the sake of clinging to what’s familiar.

screenshot of quickbooks app

Slowed Responsiveness to Business Complexities

You may be noticing that Quickbooks technology isn’t so quick anymore. Screens that used to be fast to load, now drag slowly, causing you to wait, and sometimes even shut down and restart just to get a response.

Growing businesses need a financial management solution with features that work with your
data to do more than just spit out numbers.

In a recent TechValidate study*, QuickBooks users who moved to Sage Intacct uncovered a great many of their issues were alleviated after the switch.

A comprehensive solution like Sage Intacct breathes life into your data with:

  • A high level of data automation to reduce and eliminate manual invoicing, and contract renewals and modifications.
  • Unique tagging and entry notation features from the chart of accounts to the journal entries, even right down to the transaction, for clearer details, a living history, cleaner audits and more powerful collaboration.
  • Strong integrations with other best-in-class solutions for data accuracy, better communication between your teams, and more control over your financials.
  • Customized metrics that with updates in real-time, from one screen, for fast, accurate decision-making and growth strategy design.

If you’re growing, and still using Quickbooks let’s work together to breathe life back into your financials and your growth.

Three Techniques Data-Savvy CFOs Use To Meet Timing Demands

Three Techniques Data-Savvy CFOs Use To Meet Timing Demands

Resources

Three Techniques Data-Savvy CFOs Use To Meet Timing Demands

By Paul Johnson
CPA, CGMA, MBA

It’s no secret that demands from financial services for more data in a shorter time frame are increasing rapidly. As consumer expectations and preferences change as quickly as the tides, business is expected to keep pace with that fluctuating demand.

According to an Aberdeen study, 64% of business managers noticed their decision-making time shrink. Aberdeen also found in a separate study, that 28% of business managers found they needed decision-making data within one hour of a business event, and another 42% needed data within a day.

In light of those statistics, it’s clear that now more than ever, that if financial services CFOs are to keep up, they need faster, and more in-depth, yet accurate methods for data retrieval and analysis. With Sage Intacct, they can do it in three innovative ways.

a group of coworkers working on workplace timing demands

1. Faster book closings for real-time reporting

When books close faster, monthly and quarterly financials more quickly provide answers for faster decision-making.

2. Aggregate data from disconnected systems to boost analysis

CFOs that have the most answers will pull data from outside of their financials. They examine operational data for a more comprehensive analysis of company performance, and they do that through the cloud.

With the cloud, CFOs can see a more panoramic, yet in-depth view of performance. The cloud can join financial systems with the other key solutions a company uses, from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection.

  • This method reduces data entry and improves accuracy, without breaking a connection with data, as spreadsheets do.
  • Templates can be used to repeat the analysis without repeating setup, or having to reconcile data throughout the company’s various solutions.

a young man working on timing demands

3. Use dashboard reporting to speed decision-making

Customizable dashboards mean CFOs can set their unique KPIs to display in real-time, all at once, from one screen. The data that drives your decisions is available 24/7/365 with financial and non-financial data, for strong growth strategy, and more comprehensive, accurate answers.

Strong cloud-based financial management solutions, like Sage Intacct, help uplift data driven CFOs to do more in less time with everything they need to get up and running with their financials to meet demand.

We want to help you stay on top of your data to get the answers you need when you need them. Give us a call – we are here to help!

Growth Strategy: Ideal SaaS Metrics for Every Stage

Growth Strategy: Ideal SaaS Metrics for Every Stage

Accounting 101

Growth Strategy: Ideal SaaS Metrics for Every Stage

By Paul Johnson
CPA, CGMA, MBA

If your company deals primarily in contracts and subscriptions, listen up. This is important. You probably know that paying close attention to your SaaS metrics is absolutely critical to running your business effectively, but are you looking at the right SaaS metrics? Let’s find out…

a business man working on a tablet going over SaaS metrics

For every growing contract and subscription-based business, the key metrics are Churn, Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV), Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Committed Monthly Recurring Revenue (CMRR), and Annual or Monthly Recurring Revenue (ARR or MRR).

SaaS businesses use these key metrics to identify trends, measure against benchmarks, develop strong growth strategy, and make the decisions that help define company success.

However, the importance of these metrics and their roles in company growth and product development will change and fluctuate at every stage of SaaS company growth.

SUPER EARLY STAGE TO EARLY STAGE:

These businesses are focused on defining their product-to-market fit. The metrics they need typically aid in gaining traction as the company advances into Stage A.

This means their most important metrics are typically Monthly Recurring Revenue and Annual Recurring Revenue, and Customer Acquisition Costs, and the Sales and Marketing costs associated with closing deals. They are busy setting the initial benchmarks that will help to define success in the months and years to come.

a man working at a laptop

EARLY STAGE TO GROWTH STAGE:

During Series C, D and up, but not quite at the IPO stage just yet, companies focus keenly on efficiency to stay lean.

Companies here examine Gross Margin numbers. They want to know Customer Lifetime Values of revenue to the business, measured up to what it cost to acquire those customers. How much Churn is the company facing, and who is renewing, which can be tracked in Annual Recurring Revenue.

GROWTH STAGE TO PUBLIC:

At the IPO stage and forward, companies value visibility into revenues versus expenses.

These companies need to measure deferred revenues and earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) as well as a current, and continually updated window into company expenses and year over year customer growth numbers.

For growing SaaS businesses, working with a scalable cloud-based financial management solution like Sage Intacct allows for an always-current, customizable snapshot into key SaaS metrics, even as they change with every growth stage.

With Sage Intacct, your SaaS metrics extend beyond GAAP to include operational metrics for the bigger picture, all available on board reporting. Your key decision-makers and stakeholders can see critical data whenever it’s needed, so your business is always transparent, and your growth strategies strong.

Give us a ring – we can help make your financial management easier when it comes to growth.