Technology Drives CFO Success

Technology Drives CFO Success

Effective Virtual or Fractional CFOs Rely on Technology

Whether your CFO is full-time or fractional, CFOs are a pivotal part of your company leadership, helping you make crucial financial decisions and leading the execution of those decisions.   What makes an effective CFO?   Effective CFO’s excel at:

  • Capitalizing on opportunities while avoiding ricks
  • Strategic modeling driven by accurate data
  • Speed and accuracy for fast decisions
  • Data analysis and insight

No matter how qualified the individual is, without the right technology the job becomes extremely difficult.  Speed and accuracy drive much of their effectiveness and is almost impossible without the right tools in place.

Lavoie CPA recognized this from the start and has always combined  people, processes and technology.  We provide the necessary tools to quickly digest accurate data and be able to make informed decisions to steer the business down the best path.  With dashboards in place, companies can quickly see information in real-time and make changes were needed without waiting days, weeks or even months.  Lavoie CPA also has the expertise to intercept the data and make impactful recommendations.

The core technology we utilize is Sage Intacct.  Sage Intacct is an industry-leading financial management solution designed for the needs of strategic CFOs and their teams.  In addition, we partner with other leading software providers that maximize our clients’ efficiencies.  If you are looking for a virtual or fractional CFO also consider what technologies are being utilized so that you can fully maximize your investment.

 

Business Intelligence is a Competitive Advantage

Business Intelligence is a Competitive Advantage

It’s the first day of the month, the finance and accounting teams are reconciling balance sheet accounts, recognizing revenue, accruing expenses, and recording financial transactions. Everybody is busy working against the clock to have the financial statements ready on time. Then, a request from the senior management team arrives. They want a series of sales reports so they can decide when to launch the new product line. This is a situation where a Business Intelligence (BI) solution would’ve been very handy. But let’s start with the basics.

What is Business Intelligence?

Business intelligence is the set of strategies, processes, applications, data, products, technologies and technical architectures which are used to support the collection, analysis, presentation and dissemination of business information.

Business Intelligence Systems

To implement BI, you need BI systems. These are solutions created to collect, store and analyze data for informed decision-making. These systems are particularly useful for evaluating customer or brand profitability, carrying out statistical analysis, undertaking inventory evaluation, and being part of a market research project.

Good BI solutions, at a minimum, include reporting with multidimensional aggregation and allocation, real-time information, reliable integration with the data sources and key performance indicators.

Challenges of BI Systems

Quite often, data is scattered in disparate systems such as accounting, forecasting, sales, customer relationship management (CRM), project management, inventory, etc. So, when a company decides it’s time to implement a BI tool, a big project must be launched. Not only because the new system needs to be implemented, but also because the IT department needs to create programs and processes to feed the BI tool with data extracted from all these systems.

Writing interface programs with instructions to extract data from a system requires extensive knowledge of the database. This means you need an experienced IT programmer in staff—or hire an expensive consultant—for each system that has data needed by the BI solution.

Then comes the problem of deciding how often to refresh the data in the BI system. Should it be weekly? Nightly? More than once per day? Unless you refresh the data in the BI database as soon as a transaction occurs in the originating systems, the BI information will never be real-time.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

ERP Solution with Integrated BI functionality

These issues don’t exist in an integrated solution with business intelligence capabilities. Software like this acts as the trusted system of record and depository of most of the financial and operational data. It offers the whole spectrum of core financial modules and it can be extended with fully integrated Intacct modules such as project accounting, time and expense management, contract revenue management, contract and subscription billing, inventory management, and more.

And built in the solution, multiple software companies offers the business intelligence components required to make smart and informed decisions:

  • Multidimensional aggregation and allocation. Thus, you can tag transactions to as many dimensions as needed. These dimensions can then be used on reports as criteria to sort, filter and aggregate.
  • Real-time reporting. Being an integrated system, all modules update a single database. Once a transaction is entered in any module, it is available for viewing and reporting. No IT interface programs and no IT experts are required.
  • Reliable integration with the data sources. Most systems offers pieces of software (APIs) that allow easy integration of third party systems with the database and functions.
  • Key performance indicators optimization. Most software solutions integrates dashboards that provide real-time access to key information and indicators that can be customized to meet the needs of the business.

Is your company at a stage where BI solutions are being considered? If you’re interested in learning more, check out the free whitepaper below on how to successfully launch a BI initiative.

Learn Secrets to Drive A Successful BI Initiative

A 2014 report by Dresner Advisory Services, the Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence Market Study, surveyed more than 1,200 IT and business professionals at companies of all sizes, from around the world, about their use of BI.

The study revealed that companies that achieve BI success follow five common best practices. We share these approaches to help you launch and drive a successful BI initiative at your organization — before your competitors crack the code first and pass you by.

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Why Excel Can Be Bad for Your Business

Why Excel Can Be Bad for Your Business

Why Do Businesses Use It?

The main reason a businesses still rely on Excel is familiarity with the program and the extremely low cost. When it was first released it had a huge impact on the way businesses operated, as it greatly reduced the time it took to maintain financial records

Today; however, the situation is very different. The business world has changed, but many businesses continue to use it for a multitude of different purposes for which it was not intended, and at which it is not very good.

Can It Be Bad for Your Business?

Close to 90% of Excel spreadsheet contain errors. Ray Panko, professor of IT management at University of Hawaii wrote in his article What We Know About Spreadsheet Errors that “spreadsheets, even after careful development, contain errors in 1% or more of all formula cells… in large spreadsheets with thousands of formulas, there will be dozens of undetected errors”.

The reason why errors occurs with Excel is because every file is created by a person, and people make mistakes. Additionally, the opportunity for mistakes grows as the files get bigger and more employees are involved in editing the file.

There are multiple examples of Excel blunders that have caused businesses billions of dollars due to errors in Excel. Business Insider reported in April that almost one in five large businesses have suffered financial loss due to excel errors. JP Morgan, for example, lost $6.6 billion due to alleged manual copying and pasting of incorrect data with multiple Excel spreadsheets.

How Can You Avoid Errors?

Ask yourself the folllowing questions regarding your company’s use of Excel:

  1. Will the spreadsheet be used by more than 2 people?
  2. Is the information contained in the spreadsheet critical to my business?
  3. Do I rely on this information to make my company or department operate effectively?
  4. Do I need multiple copies of the data for concurrent access or for data security concerns?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of the questions above, the good news is that you can replace Excel with other cost-effective alternatives. Cloud-based and SaaS licensed products have lowered the cost and commitment of replacing Excel to a point that most organizations will be able to find a solution suitable.

Download our free guide to Why Financial Planning Belongs in the Cloud below.

LEARN ABOUT FP&A IN THE CLOUD

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Data-Driven Approaches Guide Businesses

Data-Driven Approaches Guide Businesses

Data-Driven Decision Management

The data-driven approach is gaining popularity as the amount of available data increases with market pressures. The success of the data-driven approach relies on the quality of the data, its analysis and interpretation. However; errors can creep into data analytics processes at any stage and serious issues can result when they do. Therefore, it is important to have the right tools and procedures in place to lessen the risk of errors.

Related: How Do CFOs Keep Up With Technology Changes?

How CFOs Value and Use Data

The following points from a recent Adaptive’s Insights research study provide insight into how CFOs value and use data to set strategic direction.

  • 84% feel the most important skill they have is to think and act strategically
  • 69% want to leverage data to make more insightful analytics-based decisions in 2015
  • 40% consider the ability to leverage analytics to make data-driven decisions as one of their most required skills
  • 47% want their analysis to be based on predictive data, and 48 percent based on historical data
  • 76% are facing an increase in KPI demand from the executive team
  • Financial KPIs are the most effective types for management decision making

It wasn’t long ago that only large enterprises had the budget and resources to be able to utilize data-driven tools. However, as companies are leaning more towards the data-driven approaches, companies of all sizes are now using dashboards and other visualization tools to track KPIs, metrics, and other key data points relevant to their business. Data visualizations, most noteworthy, simplify complex data sets to provide users with at a glance awareness of current performance.

To learn more about how finance leaders are addressing and planner for quicker and more agile finance, check out the CFO Indicator Report: Q1 2017 from our partner Adaptive Insights below.