Categories
Blog Excel Interviews Podcast

Part 2 of 3: Month-end Reporting typical challenges

[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”2_3″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Headline” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

How to set up streams of data from different systems into one Excel sheet?

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text admin_label=”Body Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

In this three part series I chat to Elzaan from Semaphore communications about the challenges that some of our clients experience at month end, especially financial managers

We pick up from the previous conversation where we closed with financial managers not being able to take leave at key financial periods such as Month End, Half year end and of course Year end.

Some key points that we discuss are:

  • How business evolves faster than accounting systems and how to get around that
  • The challenges with getting data into Excel to analyse in a way that is repeatable and accurate (safe)
  • We get into the WHY of why you should care
  • We ask an important question about TRUST – is it in technology or the technologist
  • Finally we admit the we can’t do everything with a real-life example

Listen to the conversation below

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_signup admin_label=”Mailchimp Signup” global_module=”1412″ saved_tabs=”all” provider=”mailchimp” mailchimp_list=”ca7aee012b” aweber_list=”none” title=”Turn hours into a one-button refresh” button_text=”Click to connect” use_background_color=”on” background_color=”#2EA3F2″ background_layout=”dark” text_orientation=”left” use_focus_border_color=”off” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” custom_button=”off” button_letter_spacing=”0″ button_use_icon=”default” button_icon_placement=”right” button_on_hover=”on” button_letter_spacing_hover=”0″]

If you experience some of these challenges with your month-end reporting then we may be able to help you.

[/et_pb_signup][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Audio” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Conversation Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Here is a summary of that conversation

 

The way we approach problems is that when people talk about a system they think that all the solutions can only live in that particular system or it’s a massive piece of work to enable what they need to do because the work they’re doing is very important and it is a lot of work. So they equate the work on the solution to be equal to the amount of effort they put in. The kind of stuff we build for our customers is the reverse. You don’t need to modify your system. We don’t think your accounting system is bad either – they’re very good systems and there’s nothing wrong with them. It’s just that your reporting needs to change and the very nature of being human is that we’ll always be different.

That’s why you have different businesses that do very similar things, existing because they address a specific market, but is run in a particular way that’s very different to the business next door to them doing the same thing. We’re not trying to change these very powerful accounting systems. They need and adapting tool for to your reporting needs. We find Excel is still a very good tool to do that with and you don’t need it to be complicated.

Business users already understand this data flow and how information connects together. If you’ve ever used a Vlookup function they take data from one worksheet and look up a value in another worksheet, that’s a form of data modeling, a form of creating relationships from one piece of data to another. We use some of the smarter tools in Excel around PowerPivot. It doesn’t always require an Application Programming Interface connection – an API is needed if it’s an online system like Sage Online, online CRM, or Zoho invoices. If you have everything in your office environment that the IT team manages there’s probably a database that’s local so we just use a normal database connection in which we can pull the data into Excel.

There are instances where people still have files from other systems that they get so they don’t even need a local database connection. So as a first step we say you don’t always have to talk to the IT people, you can just start off using what you get now and building a solution that you can test as well, we can bring in flat files, create a repository of information, just using the things you’d get normally anyway.

Generally the financial manager does not need to ask IT for help. If they’re currently in a process, let’s say they get a few files every month that’s stored in a certain location on their network drive or it’s emailed to them (whatever the delivery mechanism is). If they’re already getting that then there’s nothing else they need to do. They don’t need to ask for special permission. We’d be able to replicate every step they do manually, except the actual physical capturing of data in a worksheet. But we can create a linkage between it once it’s captured to the rest of the information they are using.

But even activating an API is not hard (especially because we know where to look and what to look for). The first step is where we engage with you and learn what it is that you know by observing what it is that you’re doing and then we ask questions and then we have a look and find out what it’s using. Because most of the time you already have these things set up – people just don’t know the technical stuff behind it (like we do).

What are some benefits of reporting automation/ business dashboards?

The biggest benefit is peace of mind. There are a few things we are insuring. We are replicating your dedication to accuracy – so we don’t take it lightly as it’s probably one of the most critical things that contributes to your peace of mind. You know you get accurate information you can trust. We are also able to build in checking mechanisms for you – if there are certain checks and processes you go through to validate your numbers we can replicate those as well. “Is the balance sheet in balance,” would be a typical one.

People don’t mistrust technology but they are sceptical of technologists because somewhere down the line they’ve gone to an IT person to help them with this issue, but were let down. IT people are drifting away from solving problems for business. They’re getting too caught up in jargon and processes that causes delays.

Even in the case of this production company where their code on accounts changed every month because of varying specs that necessitated manual work from an expert in the business that had to allocate data, we were able to automate 60% of the process and then gave them advice on how to structure their workbooks for the other 40% which shaved another 1.5 hours off the total effort.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_signup admin_label=”Mailchimp Signup” global_module=”1412″ saved_tabs=”all” provider=”mailchimp” mailchimp_list=”ca7aee012b” aweber_list=”none” title=”Turn hours into a one-button refresh” button_text=”Click to connect” use_background_color=”on” background_color=”#2EA3F2″ background_layout=”dark” text_orientation=”left” use_focus_border_color=”off” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” custom_button=”off” button_letter_spacing=”0″ button_use_icon=”default” button_icon_placement=”right” button_on_hover=”on” button_letter_spacing_hover=”0″]

If you experience some of these challenges with your month-end reporting then we may be able to help you.

[/et_pb_signup][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]