Remember, like any good program, the first is admitting you have a problem.
I was working with a client recently, who said the same pain point I’ve heard from many corporate controllers over the years:
“Here it is May 18th, and we still haven’t closed April. That isn’t good, Mike; May is almost done.”
Accountants and controllers know the pressure of closing the books on time. Everyone is stressed out, running around, gathering numbers and when they’re finally done in one month, it’s on to the next. Now imagine you are lucky enough to be at one of those companies who pride themselves on their coveted 3-day, quick-close cycles. Feels good, right?
Rather than sit bewildered and wonder How do we get there? make the dream a reality and invest in a tool that streamlines the close process with the following features:
Has Audit Controls
Companies expect a systematic and independent examination of their books, accounts, statutory records, and documents to ascertain how true their financial statements are each year. Fair enough.
However, after the dot-com bubble burst, companies watched large portions of their stock wealth vaporize. A few didn’t like this and decided to partner with their respective CFOs to “cook the books.” As a result, CFOs started going to jail as the numbers weren’t accurate. Companies’ financial statements were incomplete, and large organizations went under because of all this.
Since then, the laws changed and now, by law, organizations must have a tool in place so that individuals are signing off on the data. These are audit controls; if someone makes a change, it’s captured by the system. The system knows who did it and when. It’s completely tracked.
The good news is that if the numbers are off, it’s the employee’s responsibility and it is all traceable.
Having worked with different consolidation tools over the past twenty plus years I have been so impressed with audit capabilities that OneStream offers. There is literally nothing a user does in the system that is not tracked nor a data amount that changes that the tool does not capture. The tool’s dashboards provide detail into when something changed and who changed it—and the best part is that it has no impact on performance!
Creates a Single Version of the Truth
Many companies have disparate systems across their sites and each of these systems have their own unique chart of accounts and dimensions. Unique systems make it harder to speak the same language at month end when questions arise. Sites may have their own definitions of what is included in Operating Expenses or EBITDA or maybe how days sales outstanding (DSO) is calculated. By having a platform such as OneStream allows the company to standardize and develop a global chart of accounts that the whole company speaks to. OneStream’s Extensible Dimensionality® feature allows sites to have some of their own unique additional detail if needed. Moreover, some companies are growing via acquisitions and OneStream enables them to quickly accommodate the acquisition no matter what GL system the other company is on and allow them to map to the global chart of accounts.
For those of you still consolidating your data via Excel spreadsheets, tell me if this happens to you: You take your time updating an important file only to realize after that you updated the wrong version of it. That’s five hours of your life you’ll never get back.
Instead, use a solution that everyone talks to, where everyone can see the changes they make in the system. Imagine the time you’ll save if you aren’t trying to find version 53 of the Excel spreadsheet or where someone typed in +1000 within a formula in a cell!
By having a single place to gather all the information, the CFO can understand how the company is doing and report it to their shareholders and stakeholders. Leadership can make decisions not only accurately, but more importantly, quickly.
Allows you to spend more time analyzing the results
Anytime a team member attempts to consolidate in Excel, there is a real possibility for human error. We know people aren’t perfect; they will make mistakes. The fewer hands touching the data, rather easily consolidating in the click of the button, the better. In fact, the less time your team collects and pulls the data together, the more time they will have to analyze it.
That’s what an all-in-one solution offers you. You don’t have to find “x” version of Excel. You don’t need to find various numbers, exchange rate data, and other data sources to examine your financials. Instead, employees can analyze why things are happening. I had one client recently who started to panic when they saw a dip in their bottom line. When he logged into his tool (he happened to be using our partner, OneStream), he breathed easily. Via the use of dashboards, he was easily able to drill down to discover what region was the issue and down to which product line. He was able to quickly see trends, variances to prior year and budget as well as the impact of foreign exchange rates were having on the variances.
I always ask clients what they hope happens at the end of any implementation. Usually, I get responses like, “I hope the close goes from 2 weeks to 5 days.”
Ideally, a good consolidations system will do more than just speed up the close. It will also speed up and improve communication, as everyone is “speaking the same language” of a single system and the same chart of accounts. It will also help people take responsibility for submitting the data. It will also help people to communicate data-first insights and make decisions that can lead to more ROI and greater morale.
Archetype partners with OneStream and we feel it’s the best tool on the market. Regardless of which tool your organization chooses, know that when you invest in a good consolidation system you are doing more than getting your financials in order; you’re systematically getting everyone else on the same page too.
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