Last week, Teampay headed to Las Vegas for the Sage Intacct Advantage conference. We met with customers, consultants, and partners; celebrated our partnership with Tipalti by hosting a happy hour for finance leaders; and gained actionable insights from the breakout sessions. Across all of the conversations, sessions, and keynotes, three consistent themes stood out:
- Ending the month-end close
- Real-time reporting
Ending the month-end close
The hottest topic at Sage Intacct Advantage was the month-end close—or rather, how to get rid of it. This subject was introduced in the opening general session, where Sage Intacct executives shared their software’s new features aimed at “killing” the close.
In almost every conversation, attendees would mention the amount of time it takes them to close the month, anywhere from one week to six. Often, people would share their goals too, or compare their current time to close against progress they’ve already made. For example, one audience member shared that her close takes two weeks, but that it used to take closer to four weeks. Shortening the close was on everybody’s to-do list.
Another conference goer told us she never knows what month it is because she lives in the past, closing the books from months prior. She lamented that she was always playing “catch up” and retroactively chasing down information from employees about their purchases.
Clearly, the legacy systems that many companies have in place are not helping finance teams to efficiently do their work. The process is manual, time-consuming, and error prone—and a barrier to your employees focusing on more strategic initiatives to impact your business.
The purpose of reconciliation is to provide information on the state of your company’s finances. Simply closing the books for the sake of it misses the point of the exercise entirely. And in the current marketplace, where the speed of business is faster than ever, companies need to have a handle on their spend at all times, not only at the end of the month.
With many finance professionals living in the past during month-end close, another popular discussion point was enabling real-time reporting. No one wants to wait days or weeks to pull the numbers that directly impact their company’s financial strategy.
As personal consumers, individuals can look at their bank accounts at any given moment and know exactly how much money they have spent. There is not an equivalent process in the corporate world. Instead, finance teams are made to wait until the end of the month to first lay eyes on the data, not to mention the time it takes to retroactively obtain missing information and then reconcile it all, which must be completed before the numbers are usable in reports.
Executives need information in real time, especially when it comes to financial metrics. In today’s market, the speed of business is faster than ever and strategic decisions need to be made quickly. That includes decisions directly about company financials, as well as those that are impacted by it.
Real-time visibility into spending—and the ability to report on it—is a large piece of the puzzle. This capability allows finance teams to quickly deliver accurate information to every stakeholder at any time. With increased transparency, efficiency, and scalability for spend, finance employees can pull reports immediately as needed and then move on to the more strategic task of analyzing the data.
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Companies today have a robust technology stack. This is largely beneficial, as employees enjoy having a range of specialized software tools at their disposal to support their job functions. However, leveraging all these different platforms can create a bit of friction when it comes to data sharing.
In many cases, specialized platforms operate separately from one another. This means multiple workflows and data sets, and no easy or efficient way to bring them together. For example, one attendee detailed a challenge he had with reconciling online orders. A staff accountant was going back and forth between two Excel sheets to manually match the transactions.
In today’s digital workplace, there is the potential for information to be very fragmented or seamlessly connected—and ensuring the latter is key. Without robust integrations that allow data to flow seamlessly from system to system, a tool’s functionality is limited and efficiency is lost.
Any new technology that a company implements should help connect data across the enterprise, not separate it further. In the modern workplace, automation between systems improves accuracy, saves time, and eliminates inconsistencies. Leveraging a platform that integrates with your finance stack and fits within employees’ existing workflow makes managing company money more efficient for finance teams.
Looking toward the future
Teampay left Sage Intacct Advantage with valuable insights about the future of the finance function and the areas that are top of mind for finance leaders. We are excited to be part of the innovation within the community.