How forecasting can help improve your bottom line

Construction companies are always looking to set themselves apart. To succeed in today’s climate, smarter forecasting can change the game.

Construction companies are always looking for ways to set themselves apart from the competition. To succeed in today’s climate of fierce competition and razor-thin margins, you need to be forward-thinking in your management style.

Traditional approaches to business visibility (e.g., reporting, monitoring, and analyzing) are important and can help you gain insight into what has already happened and what is happening now, but having a solid understanding of what might happen in the future can help give you that competitive advantage.

Start by making forecasting an integral part of your business planning cycle. Your business planning cycle should look something like this:

  1. Analyze Data
    Consider information about company performance, your projects, the economy, and the marketplace.
  2. Identify trends
    Take note of patterns in your performance, marketplace trends, and other key indicators (such as material and labor costs).
  3. Forecast performance
    Apply your findings to predict how your business/projects will perform in key areas.
  4. Plan and budget
    Use forecasts to plan for the future (“Should we hire more workers?”) and to help scope projects (“Do we have the funds to cover cash outflows?”).
  5. Execute
    Act decisively based on your plans but prepare to make course corrections, as needed.

Be sure to forecast at both the business and project levels as well as for external forces. At the business level, your forecasts help you develop your budgets, establish a vision for the future, and create benchmarks to measure and reward performance. Use predictive indicators such as customer satisfaction, sales pipeline, and accounts receivable turnover to help you create your forecasts.

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Construction site

Business forecasts to consider include backlog, new contract awards, direct and indirect costs, cash flow, net profits before taxes, gross margin, and revenue. Review your forecasts and examine any areas that show a significant change.

For example, be leery of forecasts that have your gross margin making a big leap. Costs that are high today will likely remain so in the future. When forecasting revenue, embrace your aspirations and build at least one set of projections with aggressive assumptions. Of course, you’ll also want to put together a contingency plan in case actual results fall below projections. It’s usually a good strategy to plan for the worst but project for the best.

Each project must be controlled carefully from beginning to end. Forecasting plays a vital role in identifying potential problem areas—after all, how can you know when a project gets off course unless you first understand the destination? Successful contractors are systematic with their project forecasts, typically requiring finance and operations to work together to provide monthly project forecasts.

Construction forecasts typically rely on accurate and timely input from field management for information such as percent complete and units in place. From these indicators, you can derive a forecast variance and make adjustments. To improve the timeliness of this data, companies are increasingly providing mobile access so field personnel can record project progress from the job site. Key project areas to forecast include net profit, cash flow, cost to complete, and equipment resources.

In addition to making projections regarding internal business performance, it’s important to consider how external factors will impact your organization. For construction businesses, these external driving forces typically fall into five categories: economic, political, social, technological, and environmental. Some questions to consider include:

  • Economic: How are financial markets performing?
  • Political: What new regulations are on the horizon? Where are taxes headed? How will government spending affect available work?
  • Social: How will an aging population and the effects of the pandemic change the type of buildings and services in demand?
  • Technological: How will innovations in mobile, cloud, and BIM impact the industry?
  • Environmental: In what new directions will the “green” movement pull the industry?

Without a crystal ball, the best way for construction executives to understand these forces is to use a method called scenario planning. According to the Journal of Accountancy, scenario planning is focused on answering three questions: 1) What could happen? 2) What would be the impact on our strategies, plans, and budgets? 3) How should we respond?

As with most business strategies, scenario planning is only as effective as the actions you take. Be prepared: develop a playbook to respond to various triggers identified during the planning process. This allows you to take proactive steps quickly and strategically, protecting—and potentially helping—your bottom line.

ERP software: 8 benefits of Enterprise Resource Planning systems

Learn what Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are, how they can benefit your business, and how to implement them effectively.

Keeping your business profitable takes continuous management of all the resources that make it up.

Letting this slip leads to inefficiency, which increases your costs and reduces revenue.

There are many ways for you to stay on top, but as your business grows, this can get more complex.

Before you know it, you’re juggling product stock, cash flow, and people challenges all at the same time, with no way of improving these areas and ensuring they work together.

Enter enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

In this article, we’ll explore what this type of software is and how it can benefit your business no matter how big it grows.

Here’s what we cover:

  • What is ERP?
  • 8 benefits of ERP
  • ERP in action
  • ERP implementation challenges
  • Final thoughts

What is ERP?

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software lets you integrate and manage all your core business processes in real-time.

That includes everything from finance and HR to supply chain and customer relationship management.

In other words, ERP acts as a central, unified hub that connects your data and lets you improve processes across many areas of operations.

Where some businesses have specialist solutions in each department (e.g. one for paying employees, one for managing stock levels, and another for storing customer details), ERP users have the advantage of keeping everything connected.

This brings many benefits, particularly to complex, medium-sized businesses that struggle to extract the full value of multiple separate solutions.

8 benefits of ERP

1. Boost efficiency and productivity

ERP systems enhance multiple areas of operations and provide the opportunity to eliminate a large number of manual processes with a single solution.

For example, your finance team could automate generating invoices, while your sales team automates the processing of customer orders.

Since every corner of the system is working from the same data, any process that can’t be completely automated is at least streamlined.

You can reduce mistakes, duplication of effort, and the use of outdated information.

People from every team can do more with fewer resources, in less time, and with fewer mistakes.

2. Enhance data accuracy and integrity

Having a single source of real-time data for your entire operations is perhaps the greatest strength of ERP.

This gives every department the best possible foundation for decision-making since the information and insights they use are always accurate and used by other teams.

This is essential for strategic planning and resource allocation, which often relies on teams ensuring their goals and actions are aligned.

3. Improve collaboration

Speaking of alignment, the integrated nature of ERP makes it great for eliminating silos between your departments.

People can collaborate more easily, both within their teams and across functions.

The sharing of data and other resources, as well as dedicated features specifically designed for collaboration (such as those within project management modules), does the following:

  • Breaks down communication barriers
  • Facilitates smoother project execution
  • Keeps everyone on the same page.

4. Save costs 

Being able to efficiently allocate resources and get fast access to financial insights will help you consistently find ways to save costs.

For example, your procurement team could use an ERP system to manage and compare vendors, leading them to spot more competitive prices and negotiate better deals.

This can be the case for almost every area of the business, helping you directly use ERP to boost your bottom line.

5. Delight customers

A unified view of all your customer data allows you to find ways to delight those you service.

Customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities give you more control and visibility over every customer touchpoint, from tracking interactions and learning their preferences to receiving their feedback.

This gives you everything you need to tailor your services, offer more personalized and timely experiences, and build stronger relationships.

6. Simplify regulatory compliance

Many ERP systems have compliance features embedded into their modules.

This minimizes the effort required from your teams to ensure you’re doing everything correctly, whether that’s how you’re managing sensitive data, running your finances, or anything in between.

These features will be tailored to the region you’re working in and are often automatically kept up to date by the software vendor, which means you’ll be able to stay compliant even as rules change.

By removing so much friction from compliance, you’re not only protecting your business against potential fines and legal action, but you’re also able to instill more trust in stakeholders.

7. Scalable and adaptable

Today’s world is unpredictable.

ERP systems are designed to accommodate this by allowing you to scale different areas of the software as you need to.

If your business suddenly grows, or you need to quickly shift strategies, you can adjust the parts you need to suit.

For example, you might be pushing to expand your product line and need to integrate new sales channels.

ERP can evolve as your business does, and help you adapt to unexpected external shifts without compromising efficiency.

8. Data security and confidentiality

Most ERP solutions include robust built-in security measures that are perfect for protecting data confidentiality.

From encryption and access controls to regular security audits, they ensure the protection of any sensitive information you handle, which creates confidence among stakeholders and enhances your reputation in the market.

ERP in action

Organizations in every sector can benefit from giving their business processes a central hub.

By linking everything together, ERP can streamline your entire operations, from the point where your customers buy products to manufacturing and delivery.

Empire Candle is a great example of this. After a rapid growth period, the company brought in Sage X3 to help manage inventory and manufacturing.

This sudden expansion made determining supply to meet demand much more challenging, so an end-to-end solution to manage both efficiently was chosen.

Robert Turtledove, president and CEO of Empire Candle, says: “The right systems don’t just make IT better or technology better. They make the company better.

“That’s what you want. This is the central nervous system of the company.”

Having such control of operations has saved Empire Candle 30% of unproductive labor, and productivity increases have helped the company save around $400,000 per year.

ERP implementation challenges

Leading ERP solutions are designed to be fast and easy to implement, even for complex businesses. However, some common challenges can arise if you don’t take a considered approach.

Here are the hurdles you might encounter and some strategies to overcome them.

Challenge 1: Resistance to change

It can be difficult to get employees on board with new processes and technologies, especially if you’re a long-established business and your people have been doing things the same way for a long time.

You need them to buy into the new system, otherwise it won’t be used to its full potential.

Solution 1: Conduct training

A lot of the resistance will be down to a lack of confidence or knowledge of how to use a new system.

If you conduct comprehensive training and highlight the benefits, most will see the value and start to embrace it.

Also, offer ongoing support and ensure everyone has the resources they need to stay current with the software and its capabilities.

Challenge 2: Data migration

To make the transition as smooth as possible, you’ll need to migrate the data from your existing solutions into the new ERP system.

This can be an intricate and lengthy process, and if done incorrectly, data discrepancies can cause problems later.

Solution 2: Meticulous planning and testing

Think about how you’re going to migrate data well in advance of bringing the ERP system in.

Create a detailed plan for extracting data from each existing solution, working closely with current vendors to ensure accuracy.

You can also ask the ERP vendor which additional tools can be used to transfer data.

Once you have the system in place, do some data validation and testing before it goes live.

Challenge 3: Customization

Being able to customize ERP is great for helping you achieve specific business goals.

However, sometimes this introduces some system instability that you may have to compromise on.

Solution 3: Set priorities

Identify which customizations are essential, and which you could live without.

Work with the ERP vendor to understand what sacrifices each might require, and let them guide your decisions on tailoring the solution.

Challenge 4: Integration with existing systems

Even with a new ERP system, you may still have some software that you want it to integrate with.

This can present compatibility issues, but if you neglect integration, you’re more likely to maintain the silos that ERP is so good at eliminating.

Solution 4: Compatibility assessments

Work closely with ERP vendors to assess compatibility before committing to bringing in their solutions.

When researching your options, ask whether systems have APIs that allow integration, and work with third-party IT experts if you need to.

Challenge 5: Budget overruns

As with any large implementation project, there is always the potential for the budget to creep beyond your initial estimations.

This can be down to how the implementation is managed–both by your own team and the ERP vendor–as well as the technical complexity of the solution itself.

Solution 5: Cost analysis and planning

Before bringing an ERP system on board, conduct a thorough cost analysis and err on the conservative side.

Ensure you have contingency plans in your budget to create some room for unexpected mishaps that require more money to solve.

Take a phased approach to implementation, starting with critical functionalities that provide the most value.

To control costs internally, create a detailed implementation plan that outlines tasks, timelines, and responsible stakeholders.

Final thoughts

When implemented correctly, ERP systems can help you better manage your business operations.

Having a single, fully integrated system for all your departments will help you work more efficiently, give you faster access to insights, and reveal ways to enhance profitability.

Bringing in an ERP system also gives you the opportunity to get rid of all those under-used apps that aren’t adding much value and that may even be creating friction between your teams.

With this in mind, think of ERP as a strategic investment that could not only boost operational efficiency but also improve your internal culture by removing barriers and making life easier for your people.

Automating invoice processing and SaaS AP with cloud accounting

Are piles of invoices giving you sleepless nights? As your SaaS company scales, manually managing your accounts payable (AP) quickly becomes impractical. Manual AP jeopardizes vendor relationships and contributes to cash flow problems. Luckily, cloud-based automation is a better way to tackle SaaS AP.

This blog will explore the benefits of embracing cloud accounting for SaaS AP. We’ll explore 1) The challenges involved in traditional AP and handling invoices manually, 2) Why cloud AP is superior to legacy systems, 3) How touchless invoicing simplifies payables, 4) The role SaaS CFOs play in AP automation and more.

If you’re ready to take your SaaS AP into the twenty-first century, this post is for you.

Understanding the need to automate AP

AP has a simple set of objectives for small and large companies. They involve getting vendors paid quickly and promoting efficiency around your AP workflows. This may seem clearcut on paper, but a lot more goes into AP than is immediately apparent.

Your payables team juggles a wide variety of daily tasks, such as:

  • Invoice management and ledger updates
  • Tracking cash flow as it relates to your payables
  • Staying on the lookout for fraudulent activity
  • Ensuring invoices follow the correct approval chain

That’s a lot to handle, and tackling it manually isn’t in your employees’ or vendors’ best interest. Manual invoice processing frequently leads to delays and errors, causing frustration for both suppliers and accounting teams.

And the larger your business grows, the riskier legacy AP becomes. As you scale, the likelihood of manual errors resulting in late payments, missed invoices, or even vendor service interruptions scales with you.

Let’s take a look at how manual AP compares to cloud-based payables.

Comparing legacy AP to cloud AP

Legacy AP systems heavily rely on manual, paper-based processes, leading to many errors and inefficiencies. Spreadsheet-based solutions like QuickBooks are a slight improvement, but only slight. Their products only move inefficient processes from paper to spreadsheets, but cloud AP offers true process automation.

Furthermore, legacy AP lacks cloud AP’s collaboration and reporting capabilities, which help companies streamline their invoice tracking and vendor management. Cloud AP also enhances security and compliance with features like template-based invoice processing and automated receipt management.

Since invoices are at the heart of AP, touchless invoicing is perhaps the most crucial reason SaaS CFOs should automate their payables. Let’s see what it can do for your department.

How does touchless invoicing simplify payables?

In a legacy accounting department, the AP process looks something like this. Your AP team receives a paper invoice, physically types the information into your system, ensures the proper approval chain is observed, and executes the payment once all approvals are obtained. On top of all that manual labor, someone must update your ledger.

Cloud-based touchless invoicing automates those processes while keeping your AP team in the driver’s seat to oversee everything. This multiplies your employees’ time and efficiency, freeing their focus for more strategically valuable work.

Among other benefits, cloud AP is helping SaaS companies:

  • Automate invoice tracking and management: With legacy AP, Achieving total accuracy around managing your invoices is next to impossible. But accounting software equipped with AI can make it happen.
  • Dramatically simplify approvals: Approval routing is a significant headache when you handle your payables manually. With automated approval chains, you set up your desired AP routing structure, and invoices are automatically routed until you get everyone’s signoff.

Now that you’ve gained more context on the differences between legacy and automated AP, let’s examine the main benefits of AP automation.

Key benefits of payables automation for SaaS CFOs

As a C-level finance leader with a lot on your plate, you must seek process efficiency wherever you can. AP and related internal payments like payroll are prime candidates for automation.

So, without further ado, what specific and concrete benefits can you expect when you automate your payables?

Total financial visibility

Accessing and managing payables has never been easier with cloud-based AP solutions. Say goodbye to being tied to your desk and hello to on-the-go convenience.

Remote access lets you track invoice status, due dates, payment history, and all your other payables and financial data from anywhere with an internet connection. Cloud accounting offers total financial visibility for finance leaders.

No more flipping through paper receipts or scrolling through spreadsheets searching for important data. Stay organized and efficient while quickly handling vendor inquiries and resolving payment issues.

And when it comes to audits and reporting, rest assured that your AP records are accurate, encrypted, and up-to-date, including backups.

Superior data tracking and time savings

Accounting AI software features role-based dashboards that allow SaaS CFOs to track their metrics in real-time. Cloud accounting software also comes equipped with role-based dashboards that allow SaaS CFOs access to by-the-second financial updates.

The modern CFO’s role- especially at SaaS companies- could almost be described as a “financial data scientist.” Your job depends on the ability to accurately, quickly, and effectively work with large volumes of data–cash inflows and outflows, SaaS metrics and KPIs, and your accounts payable.

Accounting AI can be your trusted partner in streamlining your financial data management. By letting it do what it does best–automate accounting processes and track financial data–you can save significant time for more valuable work.

Simplified collaboration and continuous process automation

Cloud AP lets you seamlessly collaborate with internal teams and external stakeholders by sharing invoice data, comments, and approval workflows on a centralized platform. With real-time reports on your payables and cash flow, you and your team can make informed AP decisions no matter what’s happening around you.

Continuous processes are another significant benefit of AP automation. Your GL and financial data is continuously updated from moment to moment as changes occur, greatly simplifying your reporting. But just as important when talking about AP is that accounting AI continuously closes your books with each transaction.

Continuous closing saves your department a tremendous amount of time over the year and streamlines one of the most tedious processes in SaaS accounting.

Enhanced security and compliance

Cloud accounting offers several key features to ensure enhanced security and compliance for SaaS companies and vendors alike.

First and foremost, your sensitive financial data is safeguarded, preventing unauthorized access. This is achieved by encrypting and securely storing invoices in the cloud, protecting them from potential breaches.

Additionally, cloud accounting solutions ensure compliance with industry regulations and data privacy laws, reducing your risk of legal issues and regulatory fines. And speaking of regulations, cloud accounting software can even help you automate ASC 606 management.

ASC 606 data for a SaaS company.

Automatic audit trails further enhance security. User activities are logged, providing an audit trail for accountability. Moreover, automation of approval workflows enforces standardized internal controls and dramatically reduces the risk of AP fraud.

How can AP bill automation revolutionize your department? 

By embracing touchless invoicing and automating your payables, you can simplify and expedite every aspect of your AP management. Cloud accounting platforms offer visibility into and control over your payables, which isn’t possible with paper-based or spreadsheet-based AP.

Increasing accounting team productivity cuts down on costs, and here’s how

Can you answer “yes” to any of these questions:

  • Do you have limited access to real-time actionable data?
  • Is your accounting team less productive than it should be?
  • Are you overstaffed as compared with industry benchmarks based on revenue per employee?
  • Are poor methodologies leading to higher costs in your accounting department?
  • Are you burdened with inefficient manual processes that are difficult, error-prone, and require excess labor?

If you did, we need to talk. You’re likely struggling to make informed and accurate business decisions. Your margins are lower than they should be, and that’s leading to reduced profitability. Ultimately, that increases the business cost to attract new customers and maintain and improve customer satisfaction.

One of the solutions to these issues is a modern cloud-native financial management platform to provide:

  • Out-of-the-box, fit-to-purpose automated workflows
  • Real-time business analytics
  • Self-service and mobile capabilities
  • Forecasting to anticipate demand
  • Seamless integration across systems, locations, and entities

What’s a platform like that worth to your business? In its recent report The Total Economic Impact™ of Sage Intacct, Forrester quantified the impact of Sage Intacct on accounting team productivity and reporting compliance. Let’s walk through the methodology it used to produce a real dollar figure.

Forrester interviewed four companies that switched from other systems to Sage Intacct. For their study, Forrester aggregated the interviewees’ experiences and combined the results into a single composite organization, a technology services company with global operations and headquarters in North America. The composite has 100 employees, generates $30 million in annual revenue, and grows 20% annually via acquisitions during the three-year TEI analysis period.

The four interviewed organizations said their accounting and financial systems were isolated, complex and problematic prior to deploying Sage Intacct. The financial processes resided across multiple platforms, such as enterprise legacy systems, bookkeeping software, spreadsheets and other applications. These systems included QuickBooks and Oracle NetSuite.

Lacking system consolidation and automation, the organizations used protracted manual processes to fill data gaps, often requiring additional labor to perform maintenance tasks, such as replicating the data in prior legacy and third-party software solutions or tracking contracts and invoices in individual spreadsheets.

After deploying Sage Intacct, the interviewees acquired visibility into their organizations’ financial performance and had confidence in their numbers due to the platform’s real-time data. They gained financial insights and the ability to parse the data, drill down on numbers, and isolate any issues with a particular number, which they could not do in their previous environments.

With this, Forrester calculated a $165,984 total three-year margin benefit gained due to increased accounting team productivity and improved reporting, with a present value of $137,593. (The total economic impact of all benefits quantified is valued at $2.1 million.) Let’s look at the details.

Evidence and Data

The interviewees stated that Sage Intacct’s integrated, fully automated multiple-entity reporting, based on GAAP’s revenue-recognition requirements, significantly improved the accounting team’s productivity and better prepared them for a business transaction such as an acquisition or divestiture.

  • In legacy environments, the interviewees said reporting of revenue recognition consisted of an overly complex and tedious process and was often inaccurate due to the manual processes being managed in spreadsheets.
  • In addition, these manual processes were prone to human error and meshed the data together at a macro level, making it difficult to get through due diligence required by investors versus providing the micro-level automated calculations required for proper revenue recognition.
  • Also, interviewees reported that their prior systems lacked integration with their accounts payable and third-party CRM solutions, and as a result, accountants had to manually enter the data into multiple systems. This became particularly problematic when they experienced significant rapid growth that their prior systems couldn’t accommodate, putting a strain on their internal resources and costing them an excessive amount to maintain.

Modeling and Assumptions

The composite has two employees in accounting, handling accounts payable and ensuring reporting compliance per GAAP revenue-recognition principles.

  • With Sage Intacct, accounting team members save 32 hours per week: 10 hours from elimination of duplicate data entry into multiple systems and spreadsheets, 16 hours from revenue allocation processes, and six hours from manual entry of accounts payable and reporting.


The ability to realize this benefit will vary according to:

  • The organization’s GAAP and other reporting requirements for its investors.
  • The necessary add-on modules capture additional reporting requirements, such as revenue recognition, multiple entities, and dimensions.
  • The number of persons on the accounting/finance team dedicated to data consolidation, analysis, and reporting.
  • Salary levels, depending on skills and geographical location.

To factor in these risks, Forrester adjusted this benefit downward by 5%, yielding a three-year risk-adjusted total present value of $137,593. The calculations assume a $35 hourly rate for a fully burdened accountant and two accountants.

As one of the interviewees noted, “There are some complicated things in GAAP rules that Sage Intacct handles very well. It reduces the amount of effort required from our team. I would have to hire another person or two to be able to calculate the revenue recognition.”  The interviewee is a CFO at a cloud and software services company.

Unquantified Benefits

Interviewees mentioned the following additional benefits that their organizations experienced but were not able to quantify:

  • Improved visibility and reporting in real-time to quickly analyze data and isolate any issues with numbers, locations, or products. This enables deeper dives into transactions to determine where problems occur, which is a function absent in prior systems. Furthermore, with Sage Intacct’s customized dashboard feature, executives have better visibility into the composite’s financial performance in real-time and the ability to drill down and get answers quickly without having to rely on the finance team. This level of transparency and detail allows them to make better decisions faster rather than waiting three weeks after the monthly close.
  • With Sage Intacct, organizations experience greater flexibility in accessing and reporting the data in a more meaningful way. Sage Intacct allows finance teams to generate reports based on executives’ needs in real time with speed and ease. A CFO at a cloud and software services organization commented, “When my CEO asks for something, I feel pretty confident not only that I can get it but also that I can get it pretty easily.” The interviewees found Sage Intacct’s dimension module gives them the flexibility to do custom reporting, change how dimensions are used, and add new dimensions within the system at any point in time.
  • The multiple-entity function effectively captures acquisitions and reports on company performance. Within Sage Intacct, the composite uses the multiple-entity function to manage acquisitions or divestitures and view domestic and foreign business-unit performance. The solution provides the flexibility to either fully absorb the acquired organization into the parent as a branch or keep it as a separate business unit while operating in multiple currencies and countries.
  • Accounts payable and ACH transfers are managed easily and securely. Once vendors enter their information into the composite’s portal, the data is transferred to Sage Intacct in a secure environment and then uploaded to the composite’s bank automatically, eliminating any human access to sensitive information. The CFO of an insurance company noted, “Everything is completely secured and embedded.”

If you’d like more information on The Total Economic Impact™ of Sage Intacct from Forrester, I invite you to follow this link, where the analysts not only explore the impact of increased accounting team productivity and reporting compliance but also examine the impacts of:

  • More accurate customer billing
  • Automation and integration
  • Sales team effectiveness
  • Increased finance team efficiency and auditability

These combined benefits add up to $2.1 million and a return on investment of 441%. Imagine the impact on your company.

CFO automation tools: understanding what’s at stake

As a SaaS CFO, you know the feeling: lying awake at night in a cold sweat wondering if that “one small accounting error” will have downstream effects. Maybe there was a payables mistake that impacted the timeliness of a payment to a key supplier. Will that put your company’s good standing with them at risk? And that’s just one example.

Finance leaders know the risks that can accompany even seemingly small accounting errors. You need to trust yourself, your team, and your tools.

In this blog post, we’ll explore why trust is critical when selecting automation tools for your business. We’ll be looking at the issue of trust from all angles as it applies to SaaS finance and automation. Why is it so vital that you trust these tools before switching to cloud accounting? There are answers to that question you likely haven’t even thought about.

Let’s get started.

From efficiency to trust: why you need to trust your tools

When selecting an AI accounting tool, CFOs’ main concern used to be about its impact on business efficiency. As time has passed, the core question has shifted somewhat to “Can I trust this product?”

Automation tools are crucial in streamlining financial processes and improving overall efficiency for SaaS companies. But that’s also what makes trust such an important factor when adopting these tools: they directly impact key processes tied to your business performance and cash flow.

And in SaaS finance, if something goes wrong, it can go very wrong. Whether you’re creating financial statements, running a forecast, setting a budget, or something else, a small slip can quickly trigger an avalanche of problems.

From the new accountant you just hired all the way up to your fellow accounting leaders, it’s safe to say that everyone in your department understands that.

There is no “small accounting mistake”

Even the slightest error in accounting can have far-reaching implications for your company’s ability to meet its financial goals.

This puts finance leaders in a double bind. Take your forecasting, for instance. You might know conceptually that email chains are far less efficient for forecast assembly than a centralized cloud-based platform. And you might even know that automated forecasts offer superior performance.

But here’s the thing: you don’t trust the idea of that cloud-based platform as much as your spreadsheets, or else you’d be using it right now.

This highlights two critical things:

  • 1. The central role of trust in all of this. No reasonable CFO is going to offload essential financial processes to automation tools they don’t trust.
  • 2. The importance of finding an AI solution you can trust. The cost of not finding one is to slowly (or not so slowly) lose market share to companies who weighed the risks, did their due diligence, and gave innovation an honest shot.

The good news is that accounting automation vendors also realize the importance of trust. And the reputable ones will bend over backward to observe several layers of meticulous trust-building practices. We examine some of them below.

Digital transformation with AI technology: the trust factor

A bit further in this post, we dive into a “vendor trust checklist” of what you should look for to maximize trust in your cloud software vendor.

In the meantime, though, here are some of the top things to look for when carrying out your due diligence. Following these tips can help you select software that keeps paying dividends for years to come:

  • Check that the vendor maintains total transparency about their product development processes for AI tools.
  • Make sure that their software still leaves you and your team in control: you guys still need to be the ones calling the shots. AI should be a trusted partner, not the boss of the operation.
Automated SaaS forecast data.
  • The software you select should be fully accessible, meaning you can trust that you can access it from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Your chosen solution should be fully auditable, providing a full audit trail of your financial processes and workflows.

If you can tick off all those boxes when doing your Google research on accounting AI solutions, you’re on the right track.

What are the benefits of using automation tools?

Using automation tools can streamline repetitive tasks for finance teams, improving accuracy and efficiency by reducing human error.

Accounting software equipped with AI helps CFOs and accountants save valuable time and financial resources while increasing productivity and ROI by eliminating data silos.

What else can cloud accounting do for you?

CFOs should prioritize automation tools–without leaping blindly

Software CFOs need to prioritize AI in order to maintain profitability and win their market. In today’s competitive SaaS landscape, manual accounting processes simply don’t make the cut any longer.

AI has grown in sophistication, and it’s now capable of helping SaaS CFOs improve their performance in all kinds of ways. Some particularly profitable use cases include:

  • Long-range, low-variance forecasts: Forecasts built with ML algorithms can make more accurate predictions in the future than spreadsheet-based manual methods.
  • Optimizing your billing strategy: SaaS subscribers, regardless of your target audience, will be heavily influenced by your pricing strategy.
  • Making payables a breeze: Accounts payable (AP) can quickly grow hectic for SaaS companies. AP automation keeps your payables running smoothly, no matter how layered your vendor relationships become.
  • Gauging user sentiment: AI software can use advanced analytics functionality to assess how your customers feel about your products.
  • Improving your marketing funnel: With the help of cloud planning software, you can analyze funnel performance to identify and correct sticking points in your digital marketing, maximizing onboarding and cash flow.

Clearly, automation has a place in your department if you want to get ahead. But to avoid leaping blindly into a purchase, it’s important to be aware of the different types of software on the market and what they do.

Key automation tools for business transformation

Taking the time to understand your options will enable you to maximize your trust in your chosen AI solution.

So let’s take a moment and examine what’s available. Below are three of the main types of automation tools SaaS CFOs use today.

1. Accounting automation tools

Accounting automation tools are meant to help SaaS CFOs streamline a wide variety of financial processes involved in tracking and reporting on your company’s cash flow.

Examples of workflows that this type of software is meant to automate include:

  • Financial reporting
  • Tax Preparation
  • SaaS metrics tracking
  • Consolidation accounting
  • Managing capitalization, both for public companies and smaller entities

Accounting automation tools also help finance teams with AP and payables processes for faster transactions, improving cash flow management through automated invoicing and collections.

2. FP&A automation tools

Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) automation tools are designed to help finance professionals boost the ROI of their financial strategizing.

FP&A automation software can help you:

  • Use ML algorithms to create longer-range and lower-variance SaaS forecasts
  • Make wise long-term budgeting allocations
  • Pick the perfect SaaS pricing strategy for your company’s unique business goals

SaaS companies that operate on a subscription basis are beholden to unique accounting standards, and there’s also a type of software that can help you automate compliance.

3. SaaS tools for recurring revenue management

SaaS companies that operate on a subscription basis rather than one-off license sales have a unique set of financial realities to contend with.

Rather than just worrying about one-off transactions, recurring revenue companies need to manage an entire customer lifecycle for every single customer. In addition to GAAP, they’re also beholden to ASC 606, which calls for extremely specific revenue recognition protocols to be followed for every single customer relationship.

That’s a lot to stress over, and a lot can go wrong–which is where subscription automation tools come in. A recurring revenue management tool is a software solution meant to help SaaS businesses manage and optimize their subscriptions.

Accounting suites with subscription management functionality can:

  • Automate billing and subscription management processes, such as automating renewals or helping a customer with a refund
  • Ensure compliance with regulations in the United States and elsewhere
  • Track churn and retention rates to measure and enhance customer loyalty

All three types of software are extremely useful in helping SaaS CFOs enhance different elements of their business performance and financial management. Sage Intacct is a full-service accounting automation solution that rolls all these products into one.

Now that you know more about the different types of automation tools on the market for SaaS CFOs, let’s see how you can maximize trust in your software vendor.

How to select the right automation software to maximize trust

When selecting an automation tool for your company’s finances, it’s only natural that you’ll want to maximize different layers of trust: trust in your vendor, their products, and the underlying processes and corporate culture that shapes those products.

It bears repeating. When you select an AI accounting suite, you’re trusting it to help you with extremely delicate and important financial workflows. One wrong move could seriously cost you.

So you need to do everything you can to make sure the trust factor is taken care of upfront. There should be no “mid-deployment jitters” if you’ve taken the time to carefully vet your vendor and their products.

Below is a checklist of things you should look for to ensure the trustworthiness of your chosen software vendor.

Vendor trust checklist

We realize that trusting your key financial workflows to AI isn’t easy. In fact, it probably goes against your basic instincts somewhat.

That’s why we’ve compiled this checklist of 7 essential things to look for to gauge the trustworthiness of your software vendor.

  1. Evaluate their reputation and track record in the industry. Look for reviews from users in your specific industry, and make sure they have specialized experience helping clients like you.
  2. Make sure the vendor complies with all applicable data security and privacy regulations.
  3. Pay close attention to the caliber of their customer support: support speed, quality of assistance, and frequency of support needs should be taken into account.
  4. Be sure that the software emphasizes putting you in control. Remember, AI is a partner, not a replacement. It’s very important that your vendor be on board with that.
  5. The company should be customer-centric. Do they actively take measures to get as much customer feedback as possible, helping inform their product development?
  6. Do they offer free product demos? This is an important low-risk way to gauge whether a solution is right for you.
  7. What level of deployment assistance and post-deployment help do they offer? This is a huge aspect of maximizing success with these tools.

Even if you trust AI, your team members and fellow stakeholders might not. How should you handle that?

Addressing common concerns about automation tools

Overcoming resistance to automation is crucial for successfully implementing cloud accounting in your department. These tools are extremely powerful, but employee resistance or hesitation can strain the learning process and slow down your success in the long run.

Dispelling misconceptions about automation tools helps to ensure widespread acceptance and utilization among employees. Most importantly, be sure to spend time addressing fears of job loss due to automation. Clearly communicate that the role of this technology is a complement, not a replacement.

Highlighting the benefits and opportunities of automation can inspire enthusiasm and buy-in, both for employees and other stakeholders. How can you help your team appreciate what’s really at stake?

Financial process automation: appreciating the stakes

Automation tools play a crucial role in streamlining complex financial workflows that frequently produce a lot of stress for accounting employees, and stakeholders all over your company as well.

This sets up the competing stakes that we mentioned earlier: the risks of adopting AI versus the risks of not adopting it.

You should clearly convey the risks involved in not using AI while giving equal emphasis to the rewards at stake for innovating with cloud-based tools. We’ll use SaaS budgeting as a brief example.

Setting quarterly and annual budgets for a software company is an intensely collaborative process. In a manual accounting department, the collaborative elements alone are a massive headache, and that’s before you even get to the dollars-and-cents complexities of budgeting.

Cloud accounting software, on the other hand, makes collaborative budgeting seamless. So instead of wading through email chains, you can spend time making profitable allocations for the months ahead. The cumulative benefits of that will quickly add up, and soon you’re likely to see a significant leap from your pre-automation performance.

That’s just one small example, but they’re everywhere in your department if you just take a moment to look for them.

At Sage, we know the value of trust

At Sage, trust is the cornerstone of our business. We fully understand the level of trust it takes to allow AI to assist you with your crucial financial processes. We know exactly what’s at stake for your company, which is why we do everything in our power to develop products you can place your trust in.

Below are some practices and commitments that help us produce world-class cloud accounting products.

We have customer advisory councils comprised of clients.

This allows us to maintain an ongoing pipeline of real-time feedback about how our products are helping clients just like you.

Sage works extensively with AI auditing teams.

Our commitment to extensive AI auditing helps ensure that our products are free of bias and that our product development practices meet the highest possible standard.

We maintain an international employee advisory council. 

Our employee advisory council is made up of Sage employees all over the world and provides a crucial counterpoint to our customer advisory council.

Together, they help us maximize our internal and external communication to stay informed and deliver superior value to our customers.

Our commitment to trust ensures that our customers can rely on us to deliver automation tools that live up to even the most complex accounting situations.

Embrace automation with tools you can trust

There’s a lot at stake when you decide to switch to automation accounting at your company. But there’s just as much risk, and arguably more, in sitting on the sidelines while your competitors adopt these tools and get ahead.

To see how AI can streamline your department, check out our infographic explaining how AP automation streamlines SaaS finance.

How BASE’s CFO eliminated hours of financial reporting work each month

What do you do when your business is adding more and more entities, the types of customer payments you accept are increasing, as is volume and complexity, and the amount of time you spend reconciling accounts is growing from chunks of a day to an entire day? You rise up to and meet the changes success is bringing your company with a means of driving growth well into the future.

And how? One word – automation.

This is how Maria Gunter, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at BASE transformed their business. Scaling volume and reducing complexity with an easy-to-use agile Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution was the only option. BASE is a fast-growing Austin, Texas based private investment firm that builds assets. Their expanding line of brands includes MOVE Bumpers, Espresso Parts, NORTH Lights, and WAGONMASTER.

Let’s hear about this transformation in her own words:

“We’re always looking for more automation.”

When eCommerce website changes were introducing risk to their revenue recognition, Maria knew they had to “make a change and do things differently.” On top of this, UPS changed their billing where they would not bill until the product was delivered.

“It shifted from getting information too early to getting information too late,” noted Gunter. The need for real-time data and full-scale workflow automation was beyond what QuickBooks could handle, so they began looking for a QuickBooks alternative.

“I was like, I don’t want to have to hire a person.”

The BASE Sales team had become accustomed to relying on real-time data to see how they are tracking toward their quota. Additional incentives at BASE meant they needed to see their sales dollars to see how they were tracking toward earning these incentives. And with the aforementioned changes, unless Maria’s team spent a majority of their time manually reconciling the accounts, the Sales team would not see their dollars until the end of the month, basically when it was too late to dig in and impact their numbers.

By moving from QuickBooks to Sage Intacct, BASE has been able to absorb the changes and confidently meet the challenges of growth by automating workflows and revenue recognition, and by bringing all of their data into a central location. Now with Sage Intacct, the BASE Sales team can access their real-time sales data on their dashboards any time they want. And Maria and her team, well, they are able to handle increased volume without having to hire.

“Sage Intacct just made it a lot faster.”

Maria knew she also had to automate revenue recognition to include the revenue in their Shopify eCommerce channel. Sage Intacct Marketplace Partner APIWORX worked with BASE on each business scenario to integrate and automate the entire business process and remove all manual data entry work with a seamless integration between Shopify and Sage Intacct.

By bringing the data into Sage Intacct, BASE created a single source of truth for a comprehensive real-time view of revenue while also automating revenue recognition all within a secure financial framework with anytime anywhere access.

“As we go through the month, we know where we are with regard to our revenue target. We don’t have to wait a week for accounting to get all the UPS bills and go through all the Shopify data and verify everything,” commented Gunter.

“The more real-time we can get, the more meaningful our data becomes.”

One of BASE’s entities, MOVE Bumpers, tends to have a high number of order changes. Gunter noted: “On the customer service side, they were just doing what was right for the customer and we never gave a thought about how that information might flow through a system because it wasn’t flowing through a system before. We had to create some business rules and change our internal process to provide more clarity on what was happening then flow the changes through with the APIWORX integration to be reflected in both Shopify and ShipStation.”

The integration further flows the data into their Sage Intacct order and inventory management processes and maintains the data integrity needed for accurate and timely reporting.

“We’ve eliminated about 100 hours of reporting work each month…”

“We keep asking, how could we be using this better,” commented Gunter. “Every 30-minute task you eliminate adds up over time. Financial reporting was a big one we were spending a lot of time on. We’ve got all these entities and we’re a pretty small team so we’re big on automation.”

For example, now to see spend-by-vendor across all companies, rather than cobbling 22 reports together, their former QuickBooks method, it takes around five minutes to gain a single pane view of the data. “We’ve eliminated about 100 hours each month by automating many 30-minute tasks across the team and eliminating the need to manually consolidate data,” she added.

As CFO, Maria is positioning BASE for continued success by building the framework with Sage Intacct to confidently be able to scale for growth, remain agile for change, and keep costs low with efficiency and automation.

Quickbooks’ shortcomings are holding you back

If you’re using QuickBooks Desktop, you have a problem, and chances are you’re aware of it if you plan to stay competitive in the digital age. According to a new tech dossier on QuickBooks from CIO, “businesses outgrowing the capacity of QuickBooks should factor cloud migration into their plans for transitioning to more powerful software.” Many of you are ready to make a change, according to CIO’s recent research on the attitudes of senior financial executives at small and medium businesses toward their existing finance and accounting software and their desired areas of improvement.

QuickBooks: What Its Users Say

Two recent surveys of current QuickBooks users help define some of its shortcomings. CIO, one of the leading publishers focused on business technology and digital transformation, released a tech dossier based on a survey of 207 QuickBooks users. These users represented a wide range of industries in the SMB segment, with an average of 358 employees.

The top challenges reported with QuickBooks were:

  • Suboptimal speed and efficiency
  • Limited data integrity checks
  • Limited customizability

Half of SMBs who use QuickBooks said they would like to see better reporting capabilities, followed closely by the 45% who want more accurate data and 44% who see the need to improve efficiency and/or reduce costs.

Among the other QuickBooks frustrations are:

  • Lost productivity due to time-consuming manual processes
  • Staying current with compliance and security requirements
  • Aggregating data from multiple systems and sources

The second recent survey, conducted by CFO Dive, found similar results, all captured in a new report entitled How QuickBooks isn’t Keeping Pace with CFO Needs. CFO Dive spoke with 164 financial executives and found that three out of four finance executives say going back and forth between QuickBooks and spreadsheets is frustrating for their financial teams. Finance executives use these spreadsheets to get the information and reporting they need in their daily work, which points out a significant shortcoming in QuickBooks reporting.

In addition, these survey respondents noted additional QuickBooks challenges, including:

  • Data accessibility issues (29%)
  • High occurrence of imbalances/troubleshooting (27%)
  • Too much manual data entry and reentry (26%)
  • Upgrades/maintenance (26%)

Both surveys reinforce the benefits of moving to a cloud-native financial management platform rather than using a lightweight online version of desktop software.

As CFO Dive found, certain triggers usually signal companies are outgrowing QuickBooks and moving to a robust, modern, cloud-native solution. These include:

  • Spending too much time on spreadsheets
  • Multiple business entities with no consolidated charts of accounts
  • Seeking outside investment that would require you to be GAAP-compliant
  • Remote data access requirements

CIO noted the following in its tech dossier: “Monolithic software is challenging to update and troubleshoot because the entire application must be put on the operating table. That’s why software makers have historically updated their products no more than once or twice a year. Even relatively small bug fixes can require a complete reinstallation and test cycle.

“Modern, cloud-native software takes advantage of cloud constructs to reimagine how software is built. Microservices are loosely coupled software components that each perform a specific task. Developers can chain services together to build sophisticated applications much more quickly than they could in a monolithic environment. Each microservice is tested and optimized for performance.”

You can read more about these reports by following these links – CFO Dive survey, CIO Tech Dossier. These posts go into further depth with links directly to the reports.

Moving to the Cloud

For many of you using QuickBooks Desktop, the notion of replacing it with a cloud platform might sound crazy. What you have today seems to work. But there may come a point when the benefits of a cloud-based platform make sense. Cloud-based solutions have lower upfront costs and capital expenditure, faster deployment, and easier administration.

Cloud-native financial management platforms combine the customizability of on-premises offerings with 24×7 access, higher security, and lower cloud maintenance. Cloud-native solutions deliver the full benefits of the cloud due to their use of cloud technology, de facto standards, and open APIs. They are easier to integrate, scale, and adapt, delivering confidence and a flexible system to meet your future needs.

QuickBooks Sells Professional Services Short

Professional services organizations are diverse. They provide a vast array of services have widely varying customer bases, and different models of service delivery. What professional services organizations have in common is how they generate revenue – they sell services in the form of consultants’ time. These organizations are also unified by a need for accurate project billing, detailed reporting, and business-process automation to maximize their operations.

What professional services organizations don’t need is QuickBooks. Instead, these organizations need a QuickBooks alternative that can help them boost revenue, improve customer satisfaction and make strategic data-driven decisions. Don’t take my word for it, but instead, learn the benefits that some former QuickBooks users now enjoy that improve project billing, reporting, automation, and application integration.

QuickBooks Comes Up Short for SaaS Companies

SaaS companies need financial reporting and forecasting to expand and scale, especially as they look for funding or seek to take the company public. There is efficient and effective software out there that provides what SaaS companies need to grow, and QuickBooks is not one of them. QuickBooks simply cannot offer the same level of detail and accuracy needed, with dimensions, recurring revenue, and forecasting. 10 reasons why QuickBooks is the wrong call for SaaS companies, especially as it relates to:

  • Revenue recognition
  • Subscription contracts
  • Financial controls
  • Forecasting
  • Application Integration

QuickBooks Users Depend on Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets and finance have gone together for decades. Accounting directors, managers, controllers, and CFOs have mastered the complexities of Excel. VLOOKUP, INDEXMATCH, pivot tables and reporting, macros, Excel visual basic, and data simulations are all advanced tools accounting departments have employed to get information out of complex spreadsheets.

Useful as they are, spreadsheets are a crutch and a weak one at that. And if you’re using QuickBooks, you don’t have a lot of options other than using spreadsheets to get the information you need to make data-driven decisions. Fixed-asset management, consolidation, and revenue recognition are just three of the areas where QuickBooks falls short. If your current accounting solution forces you to use spreadsheets to get the insights you need, it’s time to look for a better alternative.

The Hidden Costs of QuickBooks

Most small businesses begin their financial lives using Intuit’s QuickBooks. With more than 80% market share, it is by far the most popular small business accounting application. It’s well known. It’s easy. It works, and it offers the functionality a business needs when it’s starting out.

If your business has moved beyond the entry-level, your organization may be facing several challenges as you hit QuickBooks limits. It wasn’t designed to provide professional financial management capabilities to growing organizations with sophisticated, evolving demands. How do you know when it’s the right time to make the move? Which options should you consider? What are the hidden costs of waiting? How can you measure the costs against the benefits?

QuickBooks Reporting Can Kill Your Business

Is QuickBooks killing your business? QuickBooks might be a good option for some organizations, but there may come a time when you outgrow its reporting capabilities. While manual reporting in spreadsheets can be sustainable for a while, a reporting solution that doesn’t grow with your needs can actually stunt your ability to make quick decisions and the best strategic choices for your organization.

What are the downsides of limited reporting? Consider the impact of poor visibility on costs, profit, and loss. This can result in decreased market share and missed revenue and growth opportunities, as you don’t have the information you need to grow and react to market changes and opportunities. Lacking real-time data, you’ll make less informed decisions. You can lose your competitive position and end up with dissatisfied customers. Your colleagues will lose their confidence in senior leadership. Poor decisions can mean the difference between business growth and failure. Is it worth it?

A better reporting solution gives you more insight and visibility into your data and gives you the tools to make better decisions with improved strategic planning. You’ll have what you need to optimize margins and pricing and to increase time-to-market with better market fit. The right information at the right time can help you increase shareholder value and market share.

How construction firms can collect and distribute key data to deliver on KPIs

It’s no secret that the pandemic has caused a rapid acceleration of mobile work for the US construction industry.

In the past, back office staff, often working on-site, would be vital in processing physical documents and helping to manage authorizations.

But in the ‘new normal’ world of reduced physical contact and mobile working, teams across multiple trades and services need to ‘self-serve’ administration on projects.

The best way to control potential risk and cost in mobile teams is to implement a management system that generates a ‘single version of the truth’ with maximum data visibility and processes across disparate groups of staff and subcontractors.

By enabling people to input data, you can reduce time and cost, track and mitigate potential problems, create a digital ‘paper trail’ to streamline critical reporting, understand performance, build resilience, and develop actionable insights.

Read this article to learn how to digitalize your construction business and how a data-led approach could be your secret weapon for maximizing performance, productivity, resilience, and profit so you can successfully deliver on your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Why data is so important

In an industry as complex and interconnected as construction, businesses should be cautious about going with a gut feeling and instead look to data to make robust decisions and optimize resilience.

Data-driven organizations are three times more likely to report significant improvements in decision-making than those that rely less on data, according to a survey of more than 1,000 senior executives conducted by PwC.

Harvard Business Review adds that this approach enables you to make more confident decisions, be proactive, and realize cost savings.

In addition, businesses that implement digital practices have seen savings of up to 20%, according to McKinsey.

That’s a statistic to take seriously when the construction industry has long-suffered margins of around 2%, where even small slippages in time or cost can have knock-on effects that determine whether you make or lose money on projects.

With the benefit of insight and digital systems, you’ll be able to spot patterns and trends, helping you to navigate a business landscape and get ahead of the competition as COVID-19 continues to reshape the industry.

Data to collect and distribute

Most construction firms are familiar with Lean working – a way of systematically reducing waste from every stage within a business.

To support this and minimize costs and risk, it’s sensible to collect and manage data relating to the seven main areas of waste: transport, materials, waiting, motion, re-work, overproduction, and over-processing.

You’ll also need to collect and analyze day-to-day data relating to critical aspects around approvals, budget control, and work in progress (WIP), including:

  • Health, safety, environment, and quality (HSEQ): Details of accidents and near-misses.
  • Actual costs: Estimates against actual cost, details of purchase orders, and evidence of materials delivered to the site.
  • Materials and labor: End-to-end paper trail of purchase orders and approvals, hire of plant and subcontractors.
  • Task management: Copies of all critical policies and procedures.
  • Time: Including timesheets, holidays, and absences.
  • HR: Disciplinary records, the HR calendar, and file copies of qualifications and certifications.
  • Phasing: Details and completion of specific phases – which impact other teams.
  • Management reports: Cover details the management team needs around budgets, project timelines, and KPI tracking.

Being able to distribute that data in real-time will help your firm to track KPIs and identify issues as they arise, rather than discovering problems further down the line – that could harm budgets and timelines.

How technology can help with data collection and distribution

Collecting data via manual processes can result in errors, teams working in silos, and project delays, which can be detrimental to the objective of achieving KPIs.

By using technology, your construction firm can stay on track, and your staff can work more effectively.

Here are a few examples of how technology can help your firm when it comes to data collection and distribution:

  • You can view data according to the project, current stage/phase, and type of materials used.
  • Supporting technologies such as barcode recognition and mobile apps can be used to manage documents.
  • You can generate real-time data on individual equipment hires, labor costs, hours worked, accidents and incidents, compliance status, and projected vs actual costs.
  • You can create reports within a few clicks about specific financial workstreams within your business – according to project stage, month, individual, or material type.
  • You’ll be able to compare estimated vs actual costs to ensure your business stays on track.

How to help staff adapt to new data collection methods

When adopting new systems and processes, getting your team on board and providing them with the right skills will help. Here are four steps you can take:

1. Communicate

From the start, clearly explain what you’re trying to do, and get input from everyone involved to maximize engagement and support for new systems, rules, and processes.

This will save you a lot of effort in the long term.

2. Provide support

People will unlikely master new apps and processes for the first time. Check-in, solve problems and provide refresher training where needed.

3. Keep things flexible

Give people the option to ‘self-serve’ where and when needed. That means offering browser and mobile app versions of any business system, which are operational 24/7 to meet individuals’ needs.

4. Digitalize the distribution of information

Give everyone access to a single business information platform, and you can instantly communicate with staff and contractors.

This removes the need for face-to-face communications or physical newsletters.

Final thoughts

There’s no doubt that coronavirus is reshaping the construction industry. While providing challenges, it’s also creating new ways of working – for the better.

Technology can help your firm tackle these challenges head-on – and when it comes to delivering on KPIs, using the proper solutions will allow your staff to collect and distribute critical data effectively.

How data transparency puts restaurant operators in control

This year has been a tough one for many restaurant operators. In its 2023 State of the Industry report, the National Restaurant Association found that exactly half of all operators expect to be less profitable than the previous year. While consumers still love restaurants, economic headwinds force many to cut back on discretionary spending, and restaurants are experiencing higher prices for line items that include food, labor, utilities, and occupancy. Operators are doing what they can, but rising costs and fewer customers are like a vise with mounting pressure on all sides.

While nearly all restaurants are raising prices, changing menu items, and cutting back on other areas to move closer to profitability, these actions raise the question of how decisions are made. No one alive today has previously faced the unique challenges of a pandemic coupled with inflation, so doubtlessly, many operators are making gut decisions based on their own experiences. However, there is a group of savvy restaurant operators who are making data-driven decisions that guide their actions to:

  • Improve revenue and margins
  • Increase guest satisfaction
  • Decrease costs
  • Improve efficiency

Data Transparency Relies on a Common Backbone

With multiple data sources flowing through a restaurant operation, it’s essential to ensure that maintaining visibility isn’t time-consuming. A flexible, open API in a modern financial management system allows real-time integrations with all data sources, including legacy or third-party systems. This creates a complete picture of operational performance. Synthesizing that data into a single source of truth gives restaurant operators the information they need when they need it.

A robust reporting solution gives insight and visibility into data and delivers the tools to make better decisions. Restaurant operators will find what they need to optimize margins and pricing and better meet guest requirements. Access to real-time data helps restaurants react faster and solve any problems more quickly. Improved visibility and reporting in real-time let restaurant operators rapidly analyze data and isolate any issues with numbers, locations, or menu items. This enables deeper dives into transactions to determine where problems occur. Furthermore, with customized dashboard features, restaurant operators have better visibility into financial performance in real time and can drill down and get answers quickly without relying on the finance team. This transparency and detail allow them to make better decisions faster than waiting weeks after the monthly close.

Pulling all this together requires a solid financial management system as a platform backbone. A single connected system helps eliminate time-consuming manual processes and takes full advantage of the connectivity and digital features of today’s smart devices and applications. Implementing automated digital operations for functions such as timesheets, inventory, and guest receipts can improve efficiency, enhance accuracy, cut costs, and prevent revenue leakage. As well, automation reduces errors and improves accuracy. Automation enables better integration with other business applications and suppliers and allows for the bidirectional sharing of information so restaurant operators can better manage their supply chain and transactions.

What the Data Can Tell You

According to industry benchmarks, prime costs (cost of goods sold and labor) make up about 60% of a restaurant’s expenses. While that may seem high, lower premium costs may indicate poor quality and service. Staying in control of your prime costs starts with consistent and routine monitoring.

The cost of goods sold (COGS) measures food and beverage expenses. Integrating an inventory management system with a financial management platform that tracks accounts payables allows a data-driven restaurant operator to compare each line item and category period-over-period, so problem areas are quickly identified. For example, if the cost of a particular item is too high compared to the budget, it might be time to renegotiate with the current vendor or seek a different supplier. Also, the issue might be that employees are inaccurately measuring ingredients and more training is required, or the issue might be that menu items are priced too low. Taking corrective actions starts with precise insights to know where to start. As a key performance indicator, COGS can be displayed as an easy-to-read dashboard with drill-down capabilities to examine each dimension for further examination. This provides real-time visibility into COGS to help make data-driven decisions.

The same discipline can be applied to the other significant components of prime costs. Labor should be calculated as a percentage of total sales spent on salaries, wages, and benefits. Staff, such as host stands, restaurant servers, kitchen staff, and management, can be assigned to unique categories. A data-driven restaurant operator can easily see what’s driving costs by creating different reporting dimensions. Drill into these dimensions to generate labor reports that show whether your restaurant is staffed at the proper levels for the correct times of the day so you can course-correct if needed.

By integrating your point-of-sales and reservation systems with a financial management platform, you can further quantify areas that include:

  • Average check to measure the average amount spent by customers in the restaurant.
  • Occupancy rate measures the percentage of seats in the restaurant that are occupied at any given time. It can help operators optimize seating arrangements and staff levels.
  • Table turnover rate measures the number of times tables are turned over a given period. This helps determine how many customers you can serve during a specific timeframe.

You Can’t Manage What You Don’t See

Start by defining your restaurant’s goals and what is most important to your overall strategy. Balance this approach with measures that reflect the complete picture of your restaurant’s health and program impact. Measuring and reporting outcomes will require extra effort. But doing so brings immediate and long-term benefits.

Automating for growth: Unleashing your business potential

How to overcome inefficiencies

The role and responsibilities of the modern CFO extend far beyond the day-to-day financial challenges of running a business. Today, it’s no longer enough to play the traditional role of finance leader. To deliver value as your role evolves, you must show resilience, demonstrate more active leadership, and build skills in other areas of the business.

Today’s CFOs are responsible for much more than finance

Being an effective financial leader requires a deep understanding of your organization and the ability to apply that knowledge to guide your people on the path to success.

Additional demands 

For many financial leaders, the current economic uncertainties and upheavals have resulted in additional organizational demands—from firefighting crises and preserving cash to assessing risk, redesigning financial plans, and revising forecasts.

“Today, the role of the chief financial officer (CFO) is under greater scrutiny, internally and externally. CFOs face never-ending pressure to cut costs, grow revenue, and ensure control.” DELOITTE.

The desire to fulfill ambitions

The expanding roles and responsibilities demanded of financial leaders today can leave you needing real-time data to confidently drive your decisions. You also need accurate insights to understand what’s happening in your business in seconds—and be able to apply that understanding to affect positive change.

With the right data and insights in place, you can look ahead and prepare for the future rather than looking in the rearview mirror. You’ll be empowered to fulfill the ambitions of your business, drive growth, and be ready to follow the path to success. So, what do you need to get there?

Removing common frustrations

Outdated legacy finance systems and processes for budgeting and accounting

can be a significant cause of frustration for today’s financial leaders.

Let’s take the close process as an example. Recent research found that 92% of CFOs feel frustrated by the time it takes their business to close, the human resources needed to manually consolidate data from multiple sources—and the lack of business impact.

Such outdated and manual processes can result in a loss of productivity and wasted time as your teams work through reams of financial records and different databases. It also means your business risks making mistakes throughout the process as data integrity and security aren’t prioritized. In worst-case scenarios, your data can become vulnerable to cyber security attacks.

The end of overwhelm

Fear of missed deadlines, the sheer volume of work needed, and the risk of making serious errors can all overwhelm CFOs—and that feeling is only heightened when audit season or budget forecasts add to the pressure.

Additional frustrations can be found when financial leaders explore the limitations of their current solutions and providers—and the time taken up by financial reporting.

Overcoming inefficiencies

Businesses relying on spreadsheets can expect to lose around 10 hours weekly on manual data entry and correction. In addition, they cannot fulfill reporting requests outside their regular reporting periods. Compare this with the 79% close time reduction reported by businesses that have the right technology in place, and it’s clear that storing data in different places and formats presents a real challenge.

Financial leaders can find themselves stuck with significant gaps in their insights and operational efficiencies without the ability to see the numbers in the format they want, when they want. They can even incur additional costs when they invoice other businesses and try to get paid on time.

Empowered decision-making

Ambitious financial leaders must be able to analyze their financial and operational data and gain the vital insights they need to make informed management decisions. In addition, fast-growing companies need the ability to manage multiple locations and entities. Only then can CFOs begin to manage, improve, and grow their businesses.

An opportunity to look at the bigger picture

When CFOs can look ahead, their reliance on outdated legacy systems and time-consuming manual processes to scale and drive their business performance becomes unsustainable.

Add to this the need to feel in control amid economic uncertainty and climate change. For CFOs to futureproof their organizations, they need to be able to adjust, pivot, and grow—especially in preparation for any planned acquisitions.

Accelerated growth

This is where the cloud and new technologies can help forward-thinking CFOs accelerate their growth and functionality across the organization.

With the adoption of new technologies and tools like paperless automation, financial leaders are freer to focus on strategic thinking. In addition, they have the time to connect with like-minded peers outside the business to shape their industries, reduce the stress and pressures of managing confidential business data, and create a better balance between work and home.

Helping business flow

The right technology and advanced reporting can enable financial leaders to focus on strategy and keep their businesses ahead of the accelerating pace of industry change.

Choosing a system with extended functionality and multidimensional reporting that slices and dices data in seconds will give you back valuable time. Spend it making the most important decisions for your business—all without the limitations of spreadsheets.

Your financial teams can complete streamlined multi-entity consolidations with automated inter-entity eliminations in minutes instead of hours, freeing them to drive strategic initiatives that will help your business flow.

Futureproofing businesses 

With the data you need to budget and forecast accurately, optimize your preconstruction and operations costs, and power your inventory management, you can expect to improve your productivity by as much as 65%. With the right technology, you will reduce costs and make better strategic decisions that will futureproof your business. Experience the transformation in your role and enjoy time-savings that will ensure you have space to think clearly and decisively.