Is Your Accounting Software Making Your Finance Department “Stronger”?August 24, 2012
Matt Yezukevich, CPA
Kelly Clarkson famously sang about her broken relationships, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. While finding the bright side of a love gone by is necessary to mend any broken heart, we have seen too many finance managers across New England convince themselves that there is a bright side to relying on inefficient monthly closing and reporting processes.
In recent years organizations have reduced staffing levels while simultaneously facing an increase in compliance requirements from both public and private funders. These changes should have resulted in improvements to existing processes and systems. For most small- to mid-sized organizations, processes are designed around their accounting system. If a portion of your monthly closing process relies on manual entry into Excel, then you do not have a process or an accounting system you can rely on as 88% of all spreadsheets contain an error (Reference). This type of manual effort also distracts you from performing your actual duties as your organization’s financial manager.
If relying on spreadsheets for reporting, journal entry preparation or allocations is part of your monthly closing process, then it should be time for new accounting software. Accounting software should be easy to use, powerful and provide flexible reporting all for a reasonable cost. A primary goal of any accounting system conversion should be to eliminate manual and duplicate efforts. Following are a few highlights of what your software should allow for:
Financial Reporting – You should have the ability to create any combination of rows (subtotals) and columns necessary for both internal and external (such as audit) reporting needs.
Multiple Years – You should be able to comparatively report on multiple years without workarounds.
Cross Year Reporting – You should be able to run revenue and expense reports over any timeframe you specify and not be limited to fiscal years.
Importing from Excel – You should be able to import from a spreadsheet or flat file. Ideally, you would also be able to define the order of the columns to be imported.
Exporting – You should be able to export reports to Excel or PDF files.
Drill-Down – You should be able to drill down to source document from a financial report.
With the right processes built around the right accounting software for your organization, you can be “Already Gone”, as Ms. Clarkson likes to sing, instead of working late into the night.