Outsourced accounting services aren’t always a stopgap measure for companies that can’t afford a CFO or in-house accountant. Companies that provide accounts receivable services to businesses are often able to provide perspective and extensive experience that businesses find valuable.
The software a business chooses to use plays a critical role in passing on efficiencies to customers. The three companies below serve very different verticals and have selected their CAS software based on the specific needs of their customers. Here are their experiences.
AN AFFORDABLE CFO
Product: QuickBooks Online
Solidify: MissionFirst Accounting
Staff users: 4
Start date: 2015
Checked in: Founder and President Linda Swick, CPA
Objective: Before Linda Swick founded MissionFirst Accounting, she was Chief Financial Officer of International Teams, a global Christian non-profit organization focused on providing physical and spiritual relief to communities in need. There, it became clear to Swick that “nonprofits need a lot of help because of the complexity of the environment in which they work.” Swick started MissionFirst Accounting to provide the kind of financial and accounting expertise the nonprofit sector needs, but is often too short of cash to pay in the form of an in-house CFO.
Swick chose QuickBooks Online to provide accounts receivable services because it’s cost-effective, the setup doesn’t require a consultant, and there are plenty of training options available.
Experience: One of QBO’s biggest selling points, Swick said, is the number of apps built into the software. “It’s very flexible,” Swick said, “and will grow as the client grows.”
Being cloud-based, QBO also gives Swick the coveted flexibility to allow staff members to work from anywhere. This reduces overhead because MissionFirst Accounting doesn’t need as much office space. Because of the remote capabilities, she also has a larger talent pool to draw from when hiring.
Additionally, Swick said, “The automation they’ve built into QBO is so important to us. It saves us a lot of time and reduces the need for data entry. »
However, Swick has also found that, particularly for the nonprofit sector it serves, QBO’s reporting capabilities are not flexible enough. “Nonprofits have to report net assets and fund balances, which you have to track manually outside of QuickBooks,” she said. “If it’s a simple organization, that’s fine; but if it’s complex, you’re spending a lot more time in QuickBooks than you’d like trying to figure out the reports.
Firm Growth: To be an outsourced rather than in-house CFO, the challenge is “being able to join the conversation at the right time,” Swick said. “We hear what the organization tells us. What we’re not here to hear are conversations in the hallway or at the water cooler.
“We make it a point to be available to customers,” she continued. “We contact them regularly, so we don’t just say ‘Hi’ to them once a month.”
Because QBO reduces the time spent on data entry, Swick and his staff can spend more time having better conversations with customers. “The client wants to talk for five minutes about ‘Where are we now?’ but the rest of the time they want to talk about projecting and strategizing for the future,” Swick said. Now the company does month-end close quickly and spends more time on analysis.
“We’re still young and still building infrastructure, but looking to the future, we want to be available to as many nonprofits as possible, and be affordable but also strategic,” Swick said.
A VALID PERSPECTIVE
Solidify: The digital CPA
Staff users: 5
Start date: 2012
Checked in: Founder and Chief Accounting Officer Jay Kimelman, CPA
Objective: Jay Kimelman started using Xero in 2012 and he built his business around the software. That year, he was looking for a cloud-based general ledger. There weren’t too many options for a small business, and Xero appealed to it because of its broad cloud functionality.
Experience: “Xero’s #1 feature is cash encoding,” Kimelman said. “I have noticed that many of my clients are very habitual. Cash coding allows us to group things, for example by payee, and process them very quickly. »
Kimelman described how he was once able to clean up 11,000 transactions in a matter of hours using the cash coding feature.
Xero also connects to a variety of different apps. “Xero doesn’t have to be the best at everything – it just has to be the best GL software, which is the center of the world, and then we find the best apps for them, and that’s its power,” said Kimelman. .
Payroll, however, offered the company a bit of a challenge. “The feature has been slow to come out, and therefore we’re using an add-on service like Gusto, bringing it through the API, and it’s helping us there,” Kimelman said.
Previously, reports in Xero were “very static”. Kimelman had to go back and forth between Xero and Microsoft Excel to create the reports he needed. Now the software has improved, offering a layout editor that allows users to create flexible reports.
Firm Growth: Kimelman was CFO of South Carolina drugmaker Nephron Pharmaceuticals between 2000 and 2003 and founded his own nutraceutical company, Total Nutrition Technology, in 2003.
The difference between in-house and outsourced accounting services, Kimelman said, is essentially depth versus breadth. He has extensive experience in the food and pharmaceutical industry, but now he serves clients in all kinds of industries and can take what he learns from each of them and apply it to others. clients.
Kimelman describes this as “prospect,” and it’s part of the value proposition he offers his clients. Xero’s role to play is that he frees up his time, so he can deliver that value in a meaningful way, not just superficially, to more customers.
“We are scaling up in 2018,” added Kimelman. “We have significant growth plans. We look at Workflow Products and come back to the Xero Platform. The introduction of Xero HQ as our main dashboard data source, in addition to Xero Practice Manager, is going to give us this single platform to work on.
Eventually, Kimelman’s plan is to use this efficiency to fully replace himself in day-to-day operations so he can focus entirely on running the business.
THE NEXT BIG THING
Product: Oracle Net Suite
Staff users: 30
Start date: 2016
Checked in: Bryan Rhody, Director of Technology Solutions, and Terry Hill, Managing Director of Consulting Practice
Objective: Bryan Rhody joined the Top 100 Firm BPM in 2016, and becoming a business process outsourcing partner with NetSuite was one of his first moves. BPM had been supplying CAS for years (the company was founded in 1986). “It’s one of our core service offerings, and one that our company views as very strategic for us as we continue to grow,” Rhody said. “We wanted software that could work for a business at any stage.”
NetSuite enables BPM to offer accounting services suitable for all sizes of business, whether it is a recent startup or a company planning an exit strategy. “NetSuite BPM has the ability to create what are called ‘bundles’, or what I like to call ‘business in a box,'” Rhody said. “This gives BPM the ability to create pre-packaged, industry-specific solutions that focus on what we’ve learned to be best practices. This gives BPM the ability to deploy our services more efficiently.
“By using NetSuite as the core of our outsourced accounting services, we are better able to streamline our own services, making us more efficient for our clients,” added Rhody.
Experience: “The primary offering of outsourced accounting services is finance and accounting, but we like that NetSuite has important features beyond that, like inventory and e-commerce,” Rhody said. “We work with a lot of clients who may not need it right now, but they plan to go.”
NetSuite’s automated workflow is also a strong point for BPM. “Whether it’s approvals or routings, having that built in is a big plus,” Rhody said.
NetSuite offers BPM customers a solution that they can “scale up,” Rhody added. “Our clients can focus on their core business and their next big project, while we focus on the accounting and advisory side – and the system takes care of itself.”
The software provides standardization, Rhody said. “It’s about creating efficiencies in the back office — that’s what customers are looking for when they outsource services. We are better able to standardize and streamline our own internal processes.
While NetSuite offers a lot of support for both BPM and enterprise customers (Rhody called the enterprise integration and enablement programming “great”), Rhody also said the change is always difficult. In-house education and training has been a challenge, but “at the end of the day, it’s about providing the best accounting services. Our team wants to be able to pick it up and run it, but learning new software is a challenge. Creating a comprehensive training plan with the help of NetSuite to bring our employees up to speed has been a tremendous help.
Firm Growth: Terry Hill joined BPM in October, with a mission to lead the CFO and Corporate Controller service line supporting mid-market businesses.
“With the addition of Terry, our goal is to move upmarket,” Rhody explained. “The customers we target will require more sophisticated capabilities – companies primarily in technology, financial services, fintech, life sciences and biotechnology.” He also sees venture capital and private equity as a key growth area. “These partners make decisions with extreme speed and efficiency. We see NetSuite as a partner in this regard because of its efficiency and flexibility. »
“We want to deliver immediate value, but we focus on the full spectrum of a company’s needs right up to the CEO,” Hill added.