5 Myths around Outsourcing Finance Functions

5 Myths around Outsourcing Finance Functions

Outsourced Accounting or Accounting as a Service (AaaS) provider can be the catalyst to take your organization to the next level.  For some SMBs, accounting is not looked at as a strategic function of the organization, but it should be.  It also shouldn’t take focus away from growing your core business.  Lots of SMBs don’t consider Outsourcing.  Here are 5 main reasons why.

1) They think it is too expensive

By using Accounting as a Service, you have access to shared service center.  Providers have put a lot of investment, thought, and execution into their model and have staffed accordingly.  With an AaaS provider you now have access to a full accounting department that often is less expensive than one full-time FTE.  This doesn’t even figure in technology costs that come with the service.

2) It is the same as bookkeeping services

Bookkeepers are responsible for recording daily financial transactions.  Controllers are responsible for financial reporting, internal audit and internal controls. CFO are responsible for financial planning, financial data analysis and strategic planning.  By relying only upon a bookkeeper you are stuck looking in the past and cannot see into the future to effectively make critical decisions for your business.  AaaS providers ensure daily transactions are done correctly but also greatly reduce risks and provide necessary forward-thinking strategy to help growth your business.

3) We can just do the same in-house

For most SMBs it is hard to justify the expense of having a bookkeeper, controller, VP of finance and CFO.  All positions have importance.  You don’t want to pay a senior level person to do daily transactions and you definitely don’t want to ask an entry level person to manage financial risks.

4) We cannot have any finance staff in-house

Often AaaS providers work with internal staff to fill voids.  Yes, providers can function as the entire finance department but often work with existing staff to help maximize their production.

5) We have more control and stability by utilizing in-house staff

Employees turnover and training are always on the minds of companies.  If you don’t have a defined professional develop plan for each employee, you are at risk of losing your top talent to other opportunities.  By using an AaaS provider you eliminate the risk of employee turnover.  You also will not miss a beat when people people are out sick, on vacation, or on leave.

What do I get with an AaaS?

  • Enterprise software platform (workflow, automation, dashboards etc)
  • Vendors paid on-time
  • Customers billed on-time and accurately
  • Employee expenses captured and reimbursed
  • Cash transactions reconciled
  • Timely payables collection
  • Accounts analyzed and reconciled on an ongoing basis
  • Financial and management reports delivered on-time and accurately
  • Scalability and rapid deployment, when needed
  • Regulatory compliance delivered
  • Audit ready
  • A finance and accounting function that is STRATEGIC
Our CPA Day of Service

Our CPA Day of Service

For the last six years, the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants (NCACPA) have challenged its members to give back to the community by participating in the CPA Day of Service. The idea came originally from one of NCACPA’s Board of Directors to allow members to “take to their communities and give back in some way”.

As a member of the NCACPA and the Charlotte community, we have made it a priority to participate in this event every year by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, one of the global nonprofit housing organizations in the US. The organization works toward helping people in the community to build or improve a home and they rely on volunteers to be able to do so.

“Everyone deserves to have a place to call their own regardless of their income level.  Affordable housing is pivotal to reducing poverty in Charlotte and beyond.  Habitat for Humanity Charlotte provides the hand-up needed by thousands of local and global families.   We always look forward to spending the day with the wonderful people at Habitat ReStore and doing our part towards being a part of the solution. Shopping afterwards is always an added perk!  I always find something there!”

– Sharai Lavoie, CEO and Managing Member at Lavoie CPA.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

On Friday, September 22, all our employees met up at one of the two Habitat ReStores, which functions as the fundraising division of Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte. The ReStores accept donations of new or used items and resells them to the public at a reduced cost. Consequently, Habitat can use the proceeds to build Habitat homes with their local affiliates. There are currently two locations in Charlotte, NC, which allows Habitat to build approximately 10-12 new homes every year.

Volunteers are necessary for Habitat’s success and when it comes to the ReStores they are mostly in need to people to help them with unloading donated items, organizing and cleaning donations, placing the items on the sales floor, and aiding customers with carry-outs of purchased items.

“We had a very rewarding time helping the community and bonding with our Lavoie CPA Team. Habitat is a great organization that helps struggling family’s get on their feet through volunteers and the family working together”

– Doug Burkhart, Senior Financial Consultant at Lavoie CPA

Thank you to Habitat for Humanity for letting us be a part of your mission and giving back. If you are interested in volunteering please visit the Charlotte ReStore website or email the Volunteer Coordinator of Retail Operations at volunteer@charlotterestore.org.

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Should Small Businesses Forecast?

Should Small Businesses Forecast?

The short answer is ‘yes’. The longer answer is ‘absolutely yes’.

Seriously, there are multiple reasons why smaller businesses need to forecast and implement a FP&A (Financial Planning and Analysis) framework. First, cash is generally the most delicate asset of any small business, especially those under $20 million in sales. Cash (and the corresponding line of credit) has to use forecasting regularly so that potential shortfalls can be addressed as quickly as possible.

The second reason is not as readily apparent. Businesses who plan revenues, margins, and operating income regularly and compare actual results to these plans will do significantly better than those who do not. The former will seek answers to why plans fall short or are even exceeded. In such cases, strategies and action plans are the result of plans which are not met. Conversely, those businesses doing little to no planning are typically ‘winging it’ or flying by the seat of their pants.

A FP&A Checklist for Small Businesses

  1. Daily treasury management is a must. That means reconciling cash every day and drawing or paying down on the LOC each morning. Other daily processes need to be adhered to in the areas of billing, collections, purchases, and cash disbursement. No shortcuts allowed.
  2. Cash should be projected 8 to 13 weeks each week on a rolling basis, and this is not the job of the accountant or just the CEO. This should be done by everyone in the business who has an impact on cash (whether producing or consuming it).
  3. A few key metrics should be maintained and monitored weekly, but only a few which can lead to actionable change.
  4. Financials MUST be completed on a monthly basis within a reasonable time frame after month-end. There are no excuses to not making this happen.
  5. And finally, ensure your actual results are a part of your FP&A tool. What went right last month or quarter? What did not go according to plan, and why? Running a causal analysis is an incredibly powerful tool to use when answering these questions. At this time, re-forecast the P&L and relevant balance sheet items over the next 12 months.

Check out Harvard Business Review’s: Why Budgeting Fails: One Management System is Not Enough below to learn more about best budgeting practices. 

HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

Learn what is wrong with the current approach to budgeting and how to fix it. 

DOWNLOAD FREE REPORT
Outgrowing QuickBooks?

Outgrowing QuickBooks?

Congratulations, you’re outgrowing QuickBooks

When your business grows, you should celebrate—not suffer. Try telling that to the finance team that’s still trying to make QuickBooks work. It’s just too basic to handle growing organizations with evolving needs. So your team might be compensating with inefficient workarounds and spreadsheets. And you may realize you can’t rely on your basic reports to be of any strategic use. That’s a lot to pay for a “low cost” solution. Find out what makes Intacct the top solution for QuickBooks graduates.

Make the “day to day” easier

If your team is spending hours on spreadsheets, your entry-level accounting solution isn’t doing you any favors. Ditch the extra data entry with Intacct’s feature-rich cloud accounting solution. Automate multi-entity close and reporting, revenue recognition, project accounting, and more. Save team time today and be prepared for tomorrow with a solution that can handle almost any accounting process you can imagine.

Flex your reporting muscle

Intacct was uniquely designed to give you endless reporting flexibility. Unlike QuickBooks, Intacct enables you to track both financial and operational data in real time. You can easily drill from top-level results down to the performance for a specific entity or location, then down to individual transactions. And you can access your reports from any web browser, on any device. Integrate without IT, and other cloud benefits Organizations that are outgrowing QuickBooks can expect high ROI when switching to cloud accounting. You don’t have to worry about system availability and security—that comes guaranteed. Plus, it’s instantly easier to connect with other cloud-based best-in-class business systems, like Salesforce CRM, so you can share data between systems without human data entry or errors.

Key outcomes:

  • Improve productivity by eliminating manual processes and spreadsheets
  • Get instant visibility into business performance, anytime, anywhere
  • Integrate with your other applications to eliminate data re-entry and information silos
  • Save money, increase security, and reduce IT headaches

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5 Myths around Outsourcing Finance Functions

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Our CPA Day of Service

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4 Steps for Driving Business Agility and Growth

4 Steps for Driving Business Agility and Growth

Software executives know they need to operate their businesses with more agility because of the pace and volume of change due to innovation and new competitive offerings. C-suite executives grappling with how to turn plans into action faster than ever before need to focus on four steps in order to achieve agility and growth.

1. Rapid Decision Making

Driving business agility requires that leaders have accurate information to make fast, informed decisions. In a recent Sand Hill Group study underwritten by Intacct, CEOs and CFOs ranked “delivering real-time relevant financial information and KPI performance to all stakeholders to drive the business” as most important to their organization. With real-time financial data and KPIs, senior management and board members are in an advantageous position for sound decision making.

Knowing what’s working in the business and what’s not allows leaders to take immediate action, rather than waiting weeks for any real business insight. Having real time KPIs allows an organization to make decisions at the point of need for improved results. The difference between a three-day financial close and a three-week financial close may be the speed advantage a company needs to capitalize on a new opportunity and beat the competition. CFOs and finance teams can make their company more agile by speeding up the delivery of accurate, insightful financial data to key stakeholders.

2. Forecasting and Investing

Another process that is nearly as important to software CEOs and CFOs is quick and accurate revenue and expense planning/forecasting. Accurate forecasts rely on a variety of data sources, and CFOs that can unite disparate financial, business and market data in a single ERP application, automatically and in real time, can rapidly deliver holistic forecasts that enable business leaders to stay agile and ahead of the competition.

Let’s say, for example, a CEO wants to forecast the revenue impact of potential product features in order to prioritize engineering and marketing resources. A modern cloud ERP system lets the CFO analyze, in one place:

  • The revenue impact of recent product releases by line of business, by customer, by channel and more, creating a solid foundation for building a forecast
  • The revenue and profitability of new customers by size and vertical to assess the effectiveness of marketing spend

With this depth of visibility into different aspects of the business in a single location, the CFO and CEO are able to make an informed decision on critical investment priorities.

3. Cloud ERP Systems

When it comes to adding and improving financial systems, software business leaders in the Sand Hill Group study indicated their most likely action in the next 12 months would be to implement business process changes, and their second most likely action would be to implement a business intelligence/data analysis solution. Both of these choices make sense for fast-growing companies.

Growth requires change, and business and finance systems that are inflexible or cannot scale at the same pace as the company will not do. By changing business processes, software companies attempt to add speed and reduce wasted efforts, particularly in the finance function, in order to be more agile and responsive.

Likewise, growing companies require business intelligence solutions because they struggle to find the information they need to make informed decisions in a timely manner.

However, there is a way to solve both challenges. Modern cloud ERP systems allow the finance team to efficiently complete the processes they have to do, yet move beyond those processes to the visibility-creating activities that finance teams need to do such as data analysis, forecasting, and operational reporting. This creates a better outcome for the finance team as well as the company than either process change or adding business intelligence alone.

There are real-world examples of finance teams that take advantage of a modern cloud ERP system to streamline processes and perform deeper financial and operational analysis for more accurate forecasting and greater visibility into the entire organization’s performance. A fast-growing U.S. software company implemented a cloud ERP system that delivers segmented reporting and profit and loss statements by multiple dimensions like department, item, customer, vendor, location, project and employee. The system enables the finance team to be more productive by automatically and proactively providing each department with standard reporting for revenue by customer, spending by vendor and costs at a project level.

This allows business leaders to increase agility and optimize their performance by managing against plan and refining the forecast in real time. As a result of this insight, departments can get instant answers without having to ask finance for key financial information, and executives benefit from deep, real-time insights into the sales pipeline and collections for better forecasts. The added efficiencies from a modern cloud ERP system help a company’s finance team spend less time on transactional bookkeeping and compliance tasks and more time empowering the entire company to focus on strategic, proactive planning, and enhanced execution.

4. Raising New Capital

Software businesses at one point or another need to raise new capital. Surveyed executives in the Sand Hill Group study reported their biggest challenge in this area is modeling future revenue and net income growth. As noted above, accurate forecasts rely on a variety of data sources, and CFOs that can unite disparate financial, business and market data in a single ERP application, automatically and in real time, can rapidly deliver holistic forecasts that demonstrate the full value and potential of the company.

In addition, the study participants rated establishing and enforcing financial processes and controls as their second top challenge in raising new capital. Establishing a robust set of internal controls is something a company has to do in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the company’s accounting and reporting for a financial statement audit and to earn investor and lender trust.

Proper financial controls ensure no single individual has control over all parts of a financial transaction — and generate the audit trail to prove it. A modern cloud ERP system enables CFOs to deliver error-free financial statements and forecasts built on well-documented, carefully organized and approved transactions that support a realistic forecast and high valuation. Well-documented and enforced financial processes and controls make it easier for software companies to raise capital because of the accurate, trusted financial data provided to investors.

With these four enablers of agility and growth in place, C-suite executives and their boards and investors can be confident that the business will perform to expectations – or even outperform.

Four Crucial Enablers for Driving Business Agility and Growth was originally posted on Sandhill.com.