June 24, 2019
4 Finance & Accounting Projects to Tackle Over Summer
The summer is a great opportunity to take care of things that didn’t get across the finish line during the first half of the year. Not much happening at the office? Take advantage of the downtime to tackle your running to-do list and provide some attention to things that may have been neglected.
Here are four finance and accounting projects to address over the summer that will create additional value for your organization:
2020 BUDGET & FORECASTING
Summer is a great time to reevaluate your budget process and your historical accuracy to determine if you need a new approach. Run some numbers and ensure all of your fixed costs are truly fixed (you might be surprised). For example, is there a better process to coordinate with HR to ensure that headcount actuals and projections are aligned? If you utilize Microsoft Excel, and have templates for different business units, you can start building an aggregation macro, or start taking advantage of “shared workbooks.” Start by asking yourself the following questions: “What are our current revenue drivers and expense drivers? “What is and isn’t out of our control regarding these matters?”
Quick tip: Conduct a post audit of the current year’s budget. How is each line item tracking with the expectations you set several months ago? If you find material differences, run a proper variance analysis. This will be invaluable in developing next year’s budget.
Summer is also a great time to research financial planning tools and their potential benefit to your organization.
FULLY IMPLEMENT YOUR FINANCIAL PLANNING TOOL
It took a while for the market to notice, but once it did, new budget and planning software starting raining all around us. Roughly a decade ago, almost everyone used Excel for their entire budget process. And many still do. However, now we have finally been given programs and platforms built specifically for budgeting, forecasting and resource planning. This is a wonderful thing! But, are you aware of the full capabilities of the tool(s) you are using? Chances are, you are not. The only way you will get to know the full depth and potential of that program is to contact the vendor and schedule time with the training or support team.
Quick tip: Even if there is a fee involved, bring in one of the vendor’s experts and walk him through your process. Bring in someone from IT, as well as your budgeting lead, to discuss the process together. Once you know you are getting the full value of your software tool and getting it efficiently, ask the vendor’s representative what else the product can do that may add additional value.
If you think your financial planning tool is out of date or lacks the capability you need, check out our recent blog post 5 Signs Your Financial Planning Software Needs a Refresh for helpful guidance.
TACKLE REVENUE RECOGNITION & LEASE ACCOUNTING CHANGES
We’ve noticed that many companies are tackling the new revenue recognition and lease accounting changes way too late. A recent Accounting Change survey emphasizes this point further. The survey found that that 60% of public companies have been running behind schedule with their implementations. Nevertheless, the deadlines are here and gone, and the new standard has potential ramifications across all facets of your organization. I highly recommend reading this article written by Bridgepoint Principal, Bob Smith. Bob provides some excellent insight and offers steps that should be taken. For additional detailed information regarding ASC 606, directly from the source, look here.
As for lease accounting, public companies were required to maintain financials utilizing the new lease accounting standards as of January 2019. Private companies have until January 2020. But make no mistake, this is no small undertaking and will require substantial resources. Start now! This article written by Bridgepoint Principal, Manuel Azuara does an excellent job of diving into the details and presenting the scope and scale of the new lease accounting standards. For additional detailed information regarding ASC 842, directly from the source, look here.
ADDRESS ANY OPEN ITEMS FROM LAST YEAR’S AUDIT
Once an audit is over and all findings have been addressed, most of us just want to take a deep breath and get back to work. The audit process is an excellent diagnostic tool. Take advantage of the summer lull, and open the auditor’s report to make sure your business is not falling into some of the same deficiencies as before.
Here are a few findings you may have seen on last year’s report. If these, or other items need follow up attention, now is a good time to ensure clean operations and a smoother audit next time.
- Revenue Recognition – Is there evidence to support an exchange of goods and/or services and the rendering of payment? Is collectability reasonably assured, and is there sufficient evidence of delivery as well as a monetary or similar instrument trail in return?
- Related Party Transactions – Have all parties disclosed any relationship to vendors, customers and partners?
- Documentation – For each transaction, are all necessary agreements, invoices, deposits, etc. available?
- Segregation of Duties – For example, is the staff member who is responsible for the collection of payments also responsible for preparing the bank deposit? If so, this should be rectified immediately.
Check out our 7 Tips for a Successful Audit blog post to help you prepare and successfully complete your next audit.
BONUS TIP: Based on my experience working with clients, business leaders can sometimes overlook the “…hit by a bus” scenario. If “Joe Smith” AP Manager gets hit by a bus, has there been enough cross training and knowledge-sharing to ensure AP operations continue with as little disruption as possible? A good rule of thumb: Know your job as well as the job of the person sitting across from you. Use the summer downtime to help ensure continuity of operations within your finance group!
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
Many of us try to claw as many productive hours out of each day as we can. Summer comes around and gives us the gift of vacations. You get to enjoy your family’s vacation, as well as the benefit of the temporary reduced headcount around the office. This is your opportunity to get many things done that usually get pushed to the bottom of the “to-do” list. Maybe this summer you can get a head start on the next budget, get the most out of your budgeting software, review and ensure accounting practices are up to date, and clean up outstanding audit items.
HOW WE CAN HELP
How long is your to-do list? Need an extra set of hands or additional coverage over the summer to get more open items across the finish line? Here at Bridgepoint Consulting we have a team of finance & accounting experts ready to help you tackle your projects from start to finish. Let us partner with your finance team and bring our collective knowledge and expertise to ensure you successfully achieve your company’s objectives and goals. Check out our service offerings and get in touch today!
How to Rein in Your Chart of Accounts
5 Signs Your Financial Planning Software Needs a Refresh
5 Ways CFOs Can Set the Stage for Success