Five Ways to Get Audit-Ready Rapidly

Five Ways to Get Audit-Ready Rapidly


Five Ways to Get Audit-Ready Rapidly

By Paul Johnson

Audits are a fact of life, even for companies not strictly required to perform them. A careful review of finances reveals if and when mistakes have been made. Conversely, it reveals when and where opportunities or obstacles may lie. Every company benefits from taking a deep look at the books, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Accountants have to gather, organize, and analyze months or years worth of financial data. Each step in the process takes time and creates the risk of error, which can both lead to big penalties if the audit is legally required. And even when the process goes perfectly, completing an audit is a huge distraction and disruption. Companies want and need to perform audits, but for understandable reasons they tend to dread and avoid them.

If your company fits in this category, it’s time to embrace a different approach. Here are five ways to improve and expedite every part of the audit:

  • Revenue Recognition – Auditing revenue accounting requires a clear paper trail through a complex network of transactions and payment schedules. Variances in GAAP-accounting practices make things even trickier. Working with an automated accounting system set up specifically for complicated revenue recognition ensures that the details shine though the complexity.
  • Accounts Receivable – An audit of accounts receivable must include allowances for uncollected accounts. It also has to recognize when a payment covers multiple accounting periods. An accounting tool that applies cash receipts to client invoices automatically creates clarity instead of confusion.
  • Consolidation – Consolidations often involve immense amounts of data organized into a dense series of spreadsheets. This approach makes spreadsheet errors inevitable while making it almost impossible for auditors to find clear connections. When the consolidation process is automated instead it produces organized reports that lead auditors into the root data.
  • Pace – Audits are expensive, time-sensitive, and distracting, creating a powerful incentive to finish them fast. A well-organized accounting system accelerates any kind of audit. And if it lets you create sub-ledgers for something like receivables, auditors can start on that section of the books before you complete the final close.
  • Presentation – Improving your audit is about making things easier for both your accountants and your auditor. The more errors and inconsistencies your data contains the more time auditors have to invest double-checking your figures. The same thing happens when data is disorganized. A system that makes things easier for you ideally does the same for your auditor.

Imagine if auditing was easy, automatic, and almost instantaneous. You could comply with lawyers or regulators without stress or anxiety. You could also investigate your data for financial insights on demand.

All of that is possible when you utilize Sage Intacct for auditing specifically and financial management generally. If your next audit is approaching, contact Atlasphere Consulting soon.

Looking into cloud ERP or financial management software like Sage Intact? Make your best business case with this three-step process.

Looking into cloud ERP or financial management software like Sage Intact? Make your best business case with this three-step process.


Looking into cloud ERP or financial management software like Sage Intact? Make your best business case with this three-step process.

By Paul Johnson

The cloud is a highly popular platform for hosting critical business applications such as ERP and financial management. One survey predicts that 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. And there’s good reason for that. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications can be deployed more quickly, cost less, can be accessed anywhere/anytime, and have the flexibility to adjust to changing business requirements.

two business partners working on Cloud ERP at a desk on their computer

However wonderful these benefits sound in theory, the hard reality is that companies must build a business case for significant technology investments. Nucleus Research developed a three-step methodology to help organizations do just that—so they can realize the benefits of cloud financial management sooner rather than later:

1. Identify the top areas of benefit

The most successful business cases are built on only two or three major benefits, while most “bad” ones have five or more. The following five factors can be used to rank your expected benefits on their ROI potential:

  • Breadth
  • Repeatability
  • Risk
  • Collaboration
  • Knowledge

Breadth and repeatability provide the greatest potential returns from a benefit, according to Nucleus: “We often see this in cloud projects such as [Sage] Intacct, because the usability of the application enables companies to extend its use and function to more employees that weren’t touching financial information before (breadth), and the ability to access from anywhere (including mobile devices) increases repeatability.”

2. Quantify the primary costs and benefits

These can either be one-time or recurring. When gathering and including costs in the calculation, be sure to follow these basic rules:

  • Do count everything that is directly associated with the project, e.g., annual subscription fees for the software.
  • Do count infrastructure items that were driven by the project, e.g., extra bandwidth.
  • Don’t count infrastructure items not associated with the project, e.g., existing Internet connections.

Benefits can be either directly quantifiable or more indirect productivity-based gains. One of the greatest of these is increased worker efficiency. Specific examples of benefits that Nucleus Research has found from cloud financial management software such as Sage Intacct included:

  • Saved 500 hours a year on manual data entry.
  • Eliminated $30,000 in annual IT costs, due to moving from an on-premise solution.
  • Reduced month-end cycle from 8 hours to 6 hours.
  • Reduced time for monthly reports from 1 day to 2 hours.
  • Avoided an additional accounting employee.

a database housing a cloud network

3. Assess the financial metrics such as return on investment (ROI) and payback.

To make a solid business case, Nucleus recommends focusing on two core metrics (ROI and payback), and a secondary metric (total cost of ownership):

  • ROI, which is the average net benefit over three years divided by the initial cost, is the most important metric for choosing an application and prioritizing projects during budgeting.
  • A key measurement of risk, payback period is the length of time it takes for benefits returned to equal the initial cost of the project.
  • While total cost of ownership (TCO) provides a good metric for budgeting, it’s not usable for assessing the bottom-line benefits of a project because it only calculates lowest cost rather than greatest return.

Get your best cloud ROI with Atlasphere Consulting

Nucleus found that Sage Intacct users realized both direct and indirect benefits, including increased productivity, increased visibility, reduced or avoided IT costs, improved inventory management, accelerated financial processes, and reduced audit costs. Need help building your business case for your next technology project? Contact the experts at Atlasphere Consulting!

Revenue Management Made Simple

Revenue Management Made Simple


Revenue Management Made Simple

By Paul Johnson

How to Win the Revenue Management Game

Revenue management is a top challenge for many finance professionals—especially those working in software-as-a-service (SaaS) and professional services companies. The new revenue recognition criteria, known as ASC 606, adds even greater complexity. It’s no wonder that companies are seeking to automate their revenue management processes so they can be more efficient, get more compliant, and improve visibility.

a business team of four people sitting at a table to discuss revenue management. A female with short hair leads the discussion

Design better processes

Successfully streamlining revenue management requires a two-pronged strategy, starting with better processes designed from the top down. Since revenue management is an enterprise-wide affair, these processes should be based on input from senior executives across multiple disciplines and functions.

Here’s how:

  1. Define the revenue recognition foundation, such as determining what a subscription is, what falls under “maintenance” or “support,” and what discounts you’ll permit.
  2. Establish fair value pricing criteria using market-tested parameters and centralized data.
  3. Involve auditors in these process designs and policy definitions.
  4. Use standard contracts with defined terms.
  5. Enable collaboration and information sharing across sales, service, and finance.

an older asian man working on his laptop

Invest in the right technology

Automating revenue management yields significant benefits, from faster period closes to greater accuracy and lower costs. To streamline and centralize the management of revenue accounting, businesses need technology that allows the finance team to:

  1. Connect systems. The best accounting systems connect to critical business systems within the organization, such as CRM, services management, and subscription management to create a complete ecosystem for revenue management.
  2. Automate processes. Revenue managers need the ability to codify the applicable rules through flexible templates and schedules that reflect their unique business requirements. The process must drive the automated calculation of both recognized and deferred revenue schedules and forecasts based on contract terms, subscription length, project milestones, and more—and integrate with the general ledger.
  3. Analyze the business. The best revenue management systems deliver a solid picture of both current and deferred revenue by showing a real-time snapshot of future revenues, projected renewals, and total deferred revenue months or even years into the future. You should be able to dig deep to truly understand your business, with visibility into both financial and operating data, and have the flexibility to view the business through multiple lenses to make better strategic decisions.

Master revenue management with Sage Intacct and Atlasphere Consulting

Sage Intacct automates and improves the processes associated with complex revenue recognition. Sage Intacct is the cloud-based technology that allows your finance team to connect systems, automate processes, and analyze your business. Contact us at Atlasphere Consulting; we’re Sage Intacct experts who can develop a winning strategy for conquering the challenges of revenue management for your business.

7 Steps to Speed Your Financial Close

7 Steps to Speed Your Financial Close


7 Steps to Speed Your Financial Close

By Paul Johnson

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?


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

By Paul Johnson

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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.

Three Techniques Data-Savvy CFOs Use To Meet Timing Demands

Three Techniques Data-Savvy CFOs Use To Meet Timing Demands


Three Techniques Data-Savvy CFOs Use To Meet Timing Demands

By Paul Johnson

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!