Pictured: Darren Cran, COO of AccountsIQ, the cloud accounting software provider
We know that finance teams recognise the need to modernise but they often struggle to decide on exactly what technology they require writes Darren Cran, COO of AccountsIQ, the Cloud accounting software provider.
Many customers, when they come to us, already have some digital technology in place. However, they’ve found it no longer meets their needs, or it’s costly to maintain and upgrade. In some cases, they’ve already moved to the Cloud, but they’re not unlocking the full potential of the system.
Often, the issues lie outside the finance team. Legacy systems across the wider business are producing data, but it’s not integrated with the finance system. As a result, we still see a lot of data lifting and loading, ad-hoc interventions and complicated workarounds.
In practice what this looks like is lots of manual data entry and approval workflows, emails flying around the business, and drawn-out month-end processes. In addition, many companies are still reliant on key individuals performing certain essential tasks. Most importantly, they’re not getting the data and insights they need to grow the business effectively.
Here’s my five-step action plan for assessing your finance technology needs
#1 The key starting point is to understand your current systems and limitations. We find this is when finance teams start to realise the potential of digital adoption and spot opportunities to automate and do things better. For starters, bank reconciliations, spend management, cash flow monitoring, purchase orders and budgets should all be automated through your finance system.
This discovery phase is a key process to go through. For example, some customers assume they need a full ERP system. However, when we map out their requirements, they discover that a scalable finance platform specifically designed for the mid-market can give them all the functionality they need at a significantly lower cost.
#2 Look for a Cloud-based accounting system. Working patterns are becoming more flexible and agile. You’re likely to have multiple system users in different locations and you’ll also want to assign specific roles within the system.
#3 Ensure the system has good document management capabilities. Your finance system should be the single source of truth, with all the supporting documents behind it. You can use OCR scanning technology to store your source documents in the system for ease of access.
#4 Identify your reporting needs. Growing companies depend on evidence-based conversations and decision-making. You’re going to need multi-dimensional reporting to get relevant, granular data. I find the solution here is to work backwards; look at what data you need and then work out how to get to that ideal position.
#5 The ability to integrate. Look for a system that can integrate with other Cloud-based apps from a provider that can also deliver customised integrations with your in-house systems. This is essential to enable data flows and accurate and timely management reporting. There’s already a vast ecosystem of business apps on the market and software vendors are constantly developing new solutions. We often work with customers to build a truly digital network through API connectors and curating the right apps to future-proof their business.
Remember, you don’t need to do everything on day 1. Many of our successful digital finance transformation projects have taken a phased approach, where we’ve implemented a new finance system that the finance team can adapt and add to as the business grows. For example, bank connections and MTD are quick win out-of-the-box integrations, but workflows unique to your business will take more time and investment.
The big problem finance teams have with manual processes is that they’re so busy and stressed dealing with the day-to-day, they can’t see the big picture. Once we start to implement even small bits of automation, they find the headspace they need to think strategically. When your team experiences some quick digital wins, they’ll get a taste for it and want to do more so they can perform better.
Free consultation and demo
Find out how AccountsIQ helps companies enable digital finance transformation, call us on +353 (0) 86 224 2834 or email us at Sales@accountsIQ.com for a free consultation and demo.