summertime financial projects

Financial Projects to Take Advantage of This Summer

Summer might be coming to a close, but there is still plenty of time to get stuff done before it’s over. Summer is usually a time when work slows down, and you end up with extra time on your hands. This means that there should be plenty of time to manage some of those financial projects you may be procrastinating about.

Some of the things that you could be doing to make the best out of time that you have available are:

Reevaluate your budget process

Look at your historical data and analyze whether it is still efficient. You might find that you need a new approach. Crunch some numbers and see if there are any ways that you can make this process more efficient. Consider running an analysis of the current year’s budget to see if everything is happening as initially predicted and planned. Are there any things that you can do to rework it and make it better?

All the efforts that you put into this reevaluation can be a great benefit to you next year when trying to develop the new yearly budget.

Learn more about your current tools

With updates always happening and technology continually advancing, you could find the financial tool you are currently using isn’t being used to its full potential. Spend a few hours and get to know it. Follow along with tutorials and guides, look up any questions that you might have and see what features you’re missing out on.

By adding software retraining to your financial projects, you may improve the value that you are receiving from your software. You never know, you might discover something that could make your daily tasks more manageable.

Take on open items from last year’s audit

After an audit is completed, one of the most natural things to do is to go back to work and sigh a breath of relief. While this is perfectly okay, there could be some open items that still need addressing a few months or years down the road. By checking out last year’s audit report, you can spot anything that might need attention and compare it to the current year. Is your company falling into a deficit or keeping with a dangerous pattern? Finding these things out now can help you to correct them before it’s too late.

Using your extra time to review your financial projects not only helps you but also helps the company.

You may also enjoy, “Is it Time for an ERP System Upgrade”

Organizational tips by Cristo Paraskevas

Consultant Corner-Organizational Tips from Cristo

Being reliable, whether at home, with your family and friends or at work with your colleagues, is a fundamental value.  People appreciate those that follow through on commitments in a timely manner.  At DLC, our consultants demonstrate this value through organizational skills with an eye on deadlines, budgets, and excellent customer service. 

How do our consultants consistently deliver this level of service on time and on budget?  There are many dimensions including, effective time management and organizational skills.

Prepping the To-Do Lists

We all keep to-do lists, whether in our heads, in our email, in a notebook, or anywhere else where thoughts and ideas can be recorded.  The key to managing our lists is to have consistent organizational skills.

There are many tools and approaches available to manage time effectively.  The following is an organizational approach that has consistently made me a reliable person.

Effective Time Management and Organizational Skills

Being organized starts with email.  Does that sound crazy?  It’s easier than you think.  Most email can be categorized as either a call to action or informational.  Emails providing information should be filed as soon as they are read.  Emails requesting an action can either be dealt with immediately or triaged.

You don’t need a complicated filing system to keep track of emails.  A simple folder titled “Filed” will suffice.  Newer email tools, from Outlook to Gmail, are powerful and provide many options to search through emails.  You can quickly find a note, sorting by “From”, “Date”, “Subject”, etc.

For emails requiring your response or action, use built-in flags and keep the emails in your inbox until you’ve addressed them.  The key here is to prioritize what you respond to and when.  By continuously filing emails that you’ve read and prioritizing the ones you need to respond to, you’ll manage to empty out your inbox, or close to it!  Your inbox essentially becomes part of your to-do list.

While we’re discussing email, I also leverage the calendar to block time with a specific to do when it’s time-sensitive.  The calendar can also be a part of your to-do list.

The To-Do-List

Finally is the actual to-do list.  I use Microsoft OneNote since it’s compatible with all my devices and has everything I need to effectively manage tasks.  There are many products that offer similar functionality including Apple Notes, Evernote, among others.  They all deliver the same value and it comes down to your own preferences.

I have three main tabs in OneNote: Triage, To Do, and Waiting.

The Triage tab has raw notes that I’ll need to deal with at the end of the day.  The To-Do tab is further divided into ASAP, SOON, and LATER, depending on prioritization.  The Waiting tab is a list of actions I am waiting for others to take before I can proceed on my own responsibilities.  I note the deliverable, the person’s name, and the date they committed to on this tab.  I also set agendas, record conversations, and note ideas I might follow up with in the future on other tabs, as needed.

Putting It All Together

My day starts at the end of the day.  This is when I go through my meeting notes and Triage list.  I move items into my To-Do tab as either ASAP (within 5 days), SOON (within the next three weeks), or LATER (sometime in the future).  It is critical that the Triage list gets managed down to nothing every day.  This is the key to making the system work.  A to-do should never remain in the Triage tab.

As I take notes during meetings, I number all my actions and use alpha characters to note actions others are taking that impact me.  When I triage at the end of the day, I clean up my handwritten notes in Word.  I move numbered items to the To-Do tab or put them on the calendar if they are time-sensitive.  Move alpha characters to Waiting.

Lastly, I go through emails, filing informational emails after I read them and working through the rest by either responding or prioritizing the action by putting it on my OneNote To-Do tab, adding an action to the calendar, or leaving it in email with a priority flag.

When I come in the next day, I know what is expected of me and I start executing on my deliverables.  I attend meetings, record notes, and check email throughout the day working away at the ASAP to-do list.  Once the ASAP list is cleared, I start working on LATER, which eventually turns into ASAP when the deadline is imminent.

Organizational Skills Results

Behavior changes take time and require real motivation.  Once you’ve developed your organizational system you’ll notice a reduction in stress levels, you will forget things less, and you’ll be meeting other’s expectations of you.

Now that you’re organized, it’s time to get to work and deliver value to your stakeholders in both your private and professional lives!

Author: Cristo Paraskevas, MBA – DLC Finance and Accounting Consultant

EBITDA

Driving EBITDA Quickly, Post Acquisition

While most private equity acquisitions are relatively straightforward, things are seldom as painless as they seem. The hard part is trying to leverage the synergies between companies during the investment strategy roll-out.  After laying the groundwork for a successful post-acquisition integration and enterprise resource management implementation, the next step is to drive the Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) growth as quickly as possible. To ensure that your EBITDA strategy delivers the effectiveness and the market advantages that your investors are expecting, focus on the following concepts to help you through the process:

Automate Manual Processes

If you want to grow your business in the next few years, you may find that sustaining certain human-intensive methods are illogical.  Instead, automate manual processes with an Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP). Automating workflows can reduce the administrative overhead, saving you money that you can apply elsewhere. Start by determining how and why certain processes emerged. Once you understand the “how and why,” it will be easier to utilize the ERP’s automated workflow capabilities.

Integrate Systems for Efficiency

As businesses grow, they often acquire independent point solutions for different methods, including sales, warehouse management, financial management, and e-commerce. Some of these systems may be held together by employees moving data from one system to another and fixing errors manually.  By integrating with an ERP, you can be much more efficient. Initial integrations should be focused on the high volume or manually intensive operations due to the high cost and complexity.

Overview

Most companies that fail to meet their objectives during an ERP implementation, have not sufficiently set the stage for integration. By carefully planning the ERP implementation with focus and direction, you can be far more successful. 

For more information about DLC’s Post Merger Financial Integration services, click here.

code of ethics

The Accountants’ Code of Ethics is Under Revision

Recently, the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) proposed changes to the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants. These proposals came in response to requests from stakeholders asking the Board to examine how the code of ethics can contribute to strengthening professional skepticism.

They are hopeful that these proposed changes to the Code of Ethics will improve the mindset of accountants. Additionally, they are hoping that the changes to the Code’s conceptual framework will be easier to understand.

What are the current Codes of Ethics?

The current Code of Ethics is summarized by five fundamental principles.

  1. Integrity.
  2. Objectivity.
  3. Professional Competence and Due Care.
  4. Confidentiality.
  5. Professional Behavior.

Each one of the above five has its own set of standards to follow.

The Proposed Changes Will:

  • Highlight the professional accountant’s roles in society.
  • Accentuate the relationship between complying with the codes and the responsibilities to act in the public interest
  • Include improvements to the quality of the principles of integrity, objectivity, and professional behavior.
  • Strengthen the Code by requiring professional accountants to have an inquisitive mind when applying for work.
  • Highlight how important it is to be aware of biases. 

You can view these proposed amendments in more detail by viewing them here. The board is accepting comments until October 31, 2019.

The proposed changes were developed with the help of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) and the International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB).

More About These Changes

The changes proposed are quite extensive, including restructuring the entire framework.

Presumably, if these changes are made, the Code will be:

  • Clearer and more precise.
  • Easier to use.
  • More applicable.
  • Easier to enforce proper use.

With the substantial changes to the Code of Ethics being in consideration, The Ethics Board will be hosting a webinar in September to present an overview of the requested changes. You can follow @Ethics_Board on Twitter for updates and on how you can register for this event.

For more accounting and finance industry news, click here.

ai technology

How AI Technology is Helping Today’s CFO

AI technology is taking the “work” out of busy work thanks to its ability to make many job functions easier. It has truly revolutionized the world of corporate finance. AI can run through massive amounts of data and find relevant patterns and trends that may have otherwise been missed.

Here are a few ways that AI technology is helping CFOs:

Predictive Analytics

Human eyes can’t compare to AI in speed, detail and accuracy. AI can spot correlations between things that may otherwise seem unrelated and can also help to spot emerging trends. Not only that, but AI can give you the exact steps needed so that you can react to those trends appropriately.

Saving the Company Money

With company finances, any uncertainty in appraisals can cost the business millions of dollars. Using AI can help to remove those uncertain variables and give a more accurate reading. It can also remove the human bias and errors.

When applied to corporate finance business planning, AI can help to determine short term and long term goals for the company as well as help attain them. With the system always learning and evaluating the business, it can find the best ways to optimize profit margins.

Stopping Internal Fraud

With company embezzlement usually being an inside job, it can often go undetected. They can also make fraud as unnoticeable as possible because the perpetrator knows how to hide their tracks.

Thanks to AI, expense data reports are very accurate. With a careful eye, a CFO can analyze the data and detect suspicious activity.

AI technology has also advanced far enough that it can help to predict common behavioral patterns of employees. This allows a CFO to foresee possible fraud risks and put a stop to them before they happen.

As science and AI increase in their capabilities, they become more integrated into our financial companies. They not only help CFO’s to maximize profit margins but also help to stop fraud and protect the company as well. CFO’s should continue to observe AI advancements so that they can be adopted into their companies as soon as possible.

Click here to learn more about the Digital Future of the Accounting Industry.

excel tips

More Excel Tips for Accountants

Excel is one of the most widely used programs in the accounting industry. While most finance professionals have a general understanding of the program, there is always room to learn a few more Excel tips and tricks that make using Excel a little easier.

Fill Cells Quickly

One of the most helpful Excel tips is learning how to fill cells as quickly as possible. You can format rows, columns, and various cells. Once you’ve created the format you like the best, you can apply it to other cells quickly by using the painter function. You can accomplish this by double-clicking on the format painter icon. You can then lock the function and single-click on any parts of the spreadsheet that you want to format.

Additionally, for larger portions of data, you can use this series of quick-fill functions:

  • Time Format: Ctrl+Shift+@
  • Date Format: Ctrl+Shift+#
  • Currency Format: Ctrl+Shift+$
  • Percentage Format: Ctrl+Shift+%
  • Scientific/exponential Form Format: Ctrl+Shift+^

Splice Data

Splicing is a helpful function that allows you to filter data quickly and easily. To do this, select any range in a table or PivotTable, and then go to Insert > “Slicer,” in the top right corner. Finish by selecting the column you would like to splice.

Formula-Free

Creating equations can be time-consuming. Fortunately, Excel 2019 allows you to get a sum without a formula. To do so, click anywhere inside the Excel table. Then press Ctrl+Shift+T, and Excel will add the total to your total row. This allows you to quickly access the sum without having to provide an equation that may only be used once in the entire document.

Hide Zero Values

In a large spreadsheet, hiding the zero values can come in handy. You’ll be able to evaluate the data more efficiently without seeing values that mean nothing. To hide zero values, click the “File” drop-down menu, and choose “Options.” Then select “Advanced” from the left-hand menu and uncheck the box for “Show a zero in cells that have zero value.”

For additional Excel tips, check out Excel for Budgeting & Planning

cost control measure

Cost Control Measure Business Tips

It’s no secret that cost control is a critical component of the operation of any successful company. However, implementing those measures can be challenging. The best thing any finance team can do is focus in on the key areas that influence company spending. Here are a few critical areas that will impact overhead expenditure the most. If you get a cost control measure strategy ironed out early on, your company is more likely to thrive in any economic climate.

Cost Control Measure #1: Use Cloud Computing

With cloud computing, you only pay for the resources that you use. Meaning, there is no cost for underutilization because you don’t pay for what you aren’t using.  Rather, your cost is based on gigabytes, processing power and storage space expended.  So, it is no surprise that many businesses have found leveraging cloud services instead of purchasing their own servers to be beneficial. With cloud services, management, maintenance, and operating costs wrapped into one monthly fee and, paying for the processing power used instead of a server’s capacity, money will be saved in the long run.

Cost Control Measure #2: Hire the Right Employees

The hiring process is likely one of the most critical areas for maintaining cost control. A bad hire is expensive and can detract from the overall goal of the company. Recruiting, interviewing, and thoroughly vetting new hires should be done so in a systematic way. According to recent research, managers spend more than 10 hours per week coaching underperforming employees. That is a significant portion of the workweek where productivity isn’t at its best. Not to mention, a bad hire can influence company morale and impact the bottom line across the board.

Cost Control Measure #3: Build Quality Relationships with Suppliers

In order to control costs, you must stay on top of your expenses. The best way to do this is to maintain a good relationship with your suppliers. This means paying your invoices on time every time and working through any kinks as early as possible. Not only will this save you money by not paying any late fees, but it will strengthen your relationship with the supplier. This type of bond will be necessary when it comes time to negotiate contracts. If your company is easy to work with, it is more likely that the supplier will offer you a better rate to keep working with you. 

You may also enjoy, Cost Control Tips for Business

erp system upgrade

Is It Time for an ERP System Upgrade?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are used to streamline functions in HR, finance, and supply chain management. Essentially, the system should enable the processes to run smoother and have a positive impact on production.    However, as with any system, ERPs must be upgraded occasionally in order to ensure that only the best technology is being used. Because the transition period can be complicated, it’s important to ensure that you’re actually ready for the upgrade and that your company is in the best position to accomplish it. Here are a few signs that your business will benefit from an ERP system upgrade:

Low Productivity

One of the first signs that you need an ERP system upgrade is that your team is suffering from low productivity across the board. For example, without proper systems in place to streamline tasks, much of your team’s time might be being spent working around issues and on mundane tasks. An upgrade will ensure that they don’t have to get mired down in tedious processes, thus increasing productivity.

Your Current System is Complicated

Have you noticed that nobody on your team really knows how to use the ERP to its fullest capacity? This could be because it is just too complicated. Remember, these systems should simplify and not muddle.

If your employees would rather use outdated methods than your system, then this could mean that they simply don’t see the benefit in the current ERP. Take time to talk to them about what they would like to see in an upgrade and then incorporate those changes appropriately.

Your ERP is Not Cloud-Based

Most companies are resorting to a cloud-based ERP system. Keep in mind; the cloud system offers more upgrades and options than other non-cloud-based solutions. Not to mention, keeping your business tied to a local server may be putting your company at unnecessary risk. It may feel overwhelming to make the leap, but there are training solutions that will help you better understand this option.

If you’re ready for an ERP system upgrade, check out these Questions to Ask Before an ERP upgrade.

blockchain technology

The Rise of Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrency

You may have noticed a slight shift in the terminology used in recent finance job postings. Included in many new requirements is now a need for an understanding of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. This new jargon can sometimes put some people off simply because they have no idea what it is or why it’s so important. As positions start to require more understanding of this new technology, the more important it is for the finance industry to acquaint itself with it and prepare for this shift.

What is Blockchain Technology?

Blockchain is essentially a chain of data and information that increases as more information is added to it.

What is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a digital currency. You may have heard of Bitcoin, which is a type of cryptocurrency. The transactions of this type of currency are stored in a blockchain. Because cryptocurrency has gained more traction, more companies are classifying it as a form of payment.

How Can Companies Benefit from Adopting this Technology?

One of the more attractive benefits of adopting this technology early is that it offers more transparency and faster access. You can create smart contracts without the need for a third party because the blockchain can store the information. Ultimately, this could mean that business is conducted faster, but with the same level of protection.

What Can Employees Do?

Of course, employees will have to adjust in order to fully incorporate blockchain technology in the workplace. For starters, finance professionals should seek out certification opportunities in blockchain. Familiarizing yourself as early as possible will put you ahead of the curve. You may also gain some insight by taking additional college courses or volunteering your time with organizations that have already implemented blockchain technology.

What Can Employers Do?

Likewise, employers must also adjust if they want to include this technology in their company. For starters, facilitate collaboration with IT and other departments that focus on blockchain technology. Working together early can help remove some of the issues that arise. Additionally, when hiring new employees, focus on individuals who may have a basic understanding, but may require additional training. Remember, this is a new skill set that not many people have yet.

For more Blockchain information, check out Blockchain and Financial Reporting

presentation skills

Important Presentation Skills for Finance and Accounting Professionals

The world of finance is changing, and that means that professionals in the industry must enhance their skills to keep up with that transformation. One of the most critical components of being an effective team member is your ability to connect with others across multiple departments. Having strong presentation skills ensures that your message is being heard and sets an excellent example for your entire company. Here are a few presentation skills that you should make sure are in your tool belt.

Reduce Your Anxiety

Unfortunately, public speaking is a complicated process for many people. It’s not easy standing in front of a crowd and explaining complex information. However, the best way to overcome this fear is to do it more often. You can start small by giving a talk to a smaller circle of colleagues, or even just to your family and friends. Next, you should seek opportunities with larger crowds at a group or organization that you belong to. Toastmasters International allows you to gain even more opportunity to work on your presentation skills and get constructive feedback so you can become a quality public speaker.

Practice Your Presentation Skills

Put time into practicing. You want to make sure that your point is understood and that you break any distracting habits. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and then implement those changes to deliver a more powerful speech.

Deliver Results

The delivery of your presentation is everything. Make sure that you maintain a conversational tone and that you use words and phrases that your audience will understand. You can also pepper in a few jokes and metaphors along the way to keep people engaged. Make yourself relatable, and people are more likely to listen to what you have to say.

Be Prepared for Questions

While giving a quality presentation is undoubtedly essential, you should know that it doesn’t just end once you stop speaking. In fact, you should want your presentation to be interactive as this keeps people engaged in what you are saying. Take some time to anticipate questions and make sure that you have a quality response prepared.  

You may also benefit from reading, Communication Skills for Career Success.