Chris Bertoncini, Director, Financial Consulting Practice, Insource Services, Inc.
January 8, 2013
The words fun and financial are not often paired, but there is really no reason why they shouldn’t be. I definitely have more fun when the people and systems around me support me as I go about my work. So, as we enter the New Year, I thought we would visit some fundamental financial practices that can make everyone’s job easier…and more fun.
Is your accounting system configured to provide what you need to know to manage your business?
If designed properly, your accounting system will be:
- easy to use
- able to provide you with real-time access to data
Perhaps most importantly, your accounting system will allow for concise, timely reporting that helps you manage your business.
The backbone of your accounting system is the chart of accounts. The chart of accounts serves as:
- an organized system for keeping track of how money flows through your business
- a place where your financial transactions are classified
- a driver of financial reporting and budgeting
As such, a properly designed chart of accounts is an invaluable resource for making financial decisions.
Would you like to eliminate those extraneous Excel reports that create inefficiencies and increase the potential for manual errors?
When structuring your chart of accounts, it is critical to consider the reporting requirements of your various constituents: your program managers, funding sources, cost centers, etc. For example, by utilizing the Class feature in QuickBooks, with the push of a button, you can see reporting by program and/or funding source.
Have you implemented an effective annual budget process?
Effective financial management includes understanding where you are at any given time versus where you planned or expected to be. The annual budget process:
- defines your plan and expectations.
- should address program level planning
- should be a product of input from your accounting and finance staff in addition to your program managers and other staff.
Businesses generally need two kinds of annual budgets: an operating budget focused on profitability and a budget focused on cash flow. An operating budget is a prediction of all expected income and expenses over a 12-month period. A cash flow budget takes into consideration actual cash and should involve timing related to restricted funds, etc.
How are you utilizing these tools throughout the year?
Your financial system, in combination with your annual budget process, provides you with the tools to effectively manage the finances of your business.
- Variances should be looked at on a current period (month, quarter), year-to-date (YTD) and annual budget basis. Looking at variances in this manner will enable you to see possible problems or opportunities sooner so that timely adjustments can be made to avoid a crisis or a lost opportunity.
- Variance analysis should be made on both a percent and amount basis and a decision should be made about what is a “reviewable” variance.
- Reasons for variances (timing, overspending, revenues behind plan, etc) should be noted.
While a financial system needs to keep information, at a minimum, for funder and government requirements, the true value a good financial system provides is timely and accurate information. Make sure your systems are configured to provide you with the information you need to manage your business and make everyone’s job easier…and more fun!
Chris Bertoncini leads the Financial Consulting Practice at Insource Services, Inc. and is responsible for the overall management of client engagements and providing strategic direction for the practice. Chris collaborates with clients to develop and execute strategic plans, perform financial assessments, establish consistent reporting and financial management processes, and provide financial leadership and coaching. He also works closely with Insource senior financial consultants across areas such as configuration of chart of accounts, budget preparation, financial reporting, audit preparation, and board interface.
Insource Services, Inc. offers accounting and finance, technology, and human resource services and expertise to organizations in New England.