The role of a financial controller has evolved significantly over the last few decades. CFOs and CEOs now rely on financial controllers for critical information and strategic guidance. The financial controller is often a key person within the company who consistently has their eye on the finances to ensure there are no surprises at the end of the quarter. One of the biggest shifts for financial controllers is the variety of tools available to them. Technology has made their lives a lot smoother and enhanced their ability to make a positive impact on their organizations. But though finance tools may individually add some value, financial controllers truly excel when they use these tools in combination. In the book Nine Keys to World-Class Business Process Outsourcing, authors Mary Lacity and Leslie Willcocks adeptly describe the role of tools: “The value is in the integrated toolkit, not any individual tool” This integrated toolkit is what often differentiates the best financial controllers from the rest. In this piece, we’re going to talk about some of the tools that allow controllers to excel in their work. Full-Service Accounting Software One tool that has been important to financial controllers for years is Excel. The spreadsheet program created by Microsoft has offered financial controllers flexibility and reliability for keeping track of the numbers and managing complex calculations. But in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Adobe’s finance chief Mark Garrett explained that he was working on cutting Excel out of the picture:
I don’t want financial planning people spending their time importing and exporting and manipulating data, I want them to focus on what is the data telling us.Garrett recognizes that financial controllers can do more than gather data and press buttons that pump out new reports. They can use this information to better understand operations, reduce costs, increase profits and identify strategic opportunities for the company. One of the primary tasks of a financial controller is ensuring that all company transactions are properly recorded and maintained. For some businesses that’s thousands, or even millions, of transactions a year—and keeping track of it all in Excel could be a nightmare. That is why full-service accounting programs have become a financial controller’s best friend. These software packages combine a variety of accounting processes all into one user interface. The goal of services like QuickBooks, Sage Intacct and Xero is to eliminate the need for all the tables, spreadsheets and tracking sheets that were once necessary to manage a company’s important finance tasks.
Automated Accounting SolutionsWhile full-service software has certainly replaced a lot of the work that was once done on Excel, financial controllers still use Excel as their primary solution for plenty of tasks that rely on manual input, from record keeping to the preparation and interpretation of financial statements. Yet we’re now witnessing the rise of automated solutions that integrate with the software solutions mentioned above, leading to an unbundling of Excel functions:
The threat to Excel is not so much cheaper alternatives as is is unbundling the underlying enterprise tasks and moving them to dedicated tools. Don’t move hire tracking from Excel to GDocs: move it to a hiring tool. https://t.co/9Raw1UTuzy— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) November 22, 2017
Datamolino is an example of an automated accounting solution that has the potential to save financial controllers hours and hours. Finance controllers who use Datamolino can upload their bills, invoices and receipts (scanned paper documents, PDFs or photos), and the tool will extract all the information from the files and put it into a searchable, scannable format. No more data entry, and no more filing: Another tool making the lives of financial controllers 10 times easier is our very own Teampay. Teampay can save financial controllers and their teams hours each month by making procurement processes, payment reconciliation and spend management automated and easy. No more fumbling over Excel spreadsheets for expenses and purchase orders. Teampay issues virtual credit cards that sync directly with accounting services, making sure financial controllers know who spent how much and what they purchased. Another great automation tool is InvoiceSherpa, which automates the accounts receivable process to ensure that invoices are paid quickly and on time. InvoiceSherpa automatically follows up with clients whose invoices are past due and offers clients the ability to pay online. It syncs directly with full-service accounting software to ensure there’s no loss of data—always a danger if you are manually inputting payment information.
Technology is automating manual tasks and pushing Excel to the side. Financial controllers who don’t embrace these automated solutions are often the ones who get left behind.