5 Tips to Better Manage Your Cash Flow
It seems straightforward: Your business or nonprofit needs to know what you owe others and what they owe you. That’s your cash flow, and managing that cash flow accurately and consistently is one of the basic elements of accounting.
Look more closely at cash flow management, and you’ll find that it’s not so simple. As with every accounting process, there are good and bad ways to go about it. There are processes that work well and others that will cause you trouble—if not today then down the line. There are also advanced elements that can help separate your organization from the competition.
Let’s look at five tips for managing your cash flow not only to get by but to be more efficient and productive.
Step 1: Establish firm collections practices
When do your clients or customers pay you? If your answer is “it depends” or “it’s a long story,” you probably need to strengthen your accounts payable practices. Make sure your policies are clear, and make sure someone is keeping an eye on receivables—you might want to assign a single person to the task. That person should contact customers if they are late with payments, and persist as necessary to collect all your receivables as quickly as possible.
Step 2: Pay on time, but not early
It’s good business to pay your bills on time, every time, but that doesn’t mean you should pay a large bill the day you receive it. Check the payment terms—net 30, net 90? Then establish a process to ensure the bill is paid toward the end of the available term. This is assuming, of course, that you have cash on hand to pay the bill—if you don’t, that’s a more serious cash flow problem than the ones we’re addressing.
Step 3: Invest in the right software
Especially as your organization grows, it’s wise to invest in advanced accounting solutions such as Sage Intacct, the best-in-class cloud ERP platform. Sage Intacct’s cash flow management software provides a complete picture of your cash position on a secure, customizable dashboard accessible from anywhere. You can view all payments and all transactions across bank accounts and credit cards, and across every location and entity—and it’s ready for you in real time.
Step 4: Forecast your future
Look for accounting software that offers predictive forecasting capabilities, which provide access to accurate, automated cash flow forecasting across your entire organization, at the click of a button. The best solutions can generate models of your projected revenues and expenses related to sales, capital investments, and other information. The result is a crystal ball of sorts—a comprehensive picture of what lies ahead so you can better manage your cash flow.
Improve cash flow management
Better cash flow management processes can help you grow your organization with confidence. Insero & Co. helps organizations evaluate best-in-class software solutions to streamline cash flow management and other accounting practices.
The Latest Tech Trends—And Why You Need to Know About Them
Accounting and financial management are changing fast with the introduction of a dizzying array of new technologies and tools, from online solutions to new mobile accounting applications.
Determining which tools and trends are worth adopting, and when, is a challenge that businesses and nonprofits need to consider with care.
Which emerging technologies are worth your time?
It is remarkable how many new technologies and trends have emerged in just the past 10 years, and you can expect the pace of innovation to increase from here thanks to machine learning, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, blockchain, and other digital technologies.
One increasingly popular trend is to move from on-premises accounting software to cloud-based accounting software solutions like Sage Intacct. By moving to the cloud, you can improve visibility, streamline reporting processes, and make it easier for your clients and colleagues to collaborate and exchange information. In addition, cloud-based accounting can help you:
- Analyze more data in real time
- Scale as needed, with potentially unlimited storage space
- Access information securely anytime and anywhere, from any device
- Automatically back up files in the cloud
Another advantage of Sage Intacct is that it makes it easy to integrate third-party tools that offer benefits to your business or nonprofit. For instance, a growing number of applications are available to streamline expense reporting, automate accounts payable, and speed other common tasks.
You’ll also want to evaluate targeted technologies such as optical character recognition (OCR), which can scan printed and handwritten documents and convert them into machine-readable text. That means you can take handwritten documents, or even photos of documents, and turn them into electronic documents that are easy to store and share.
Why stay on top of the latest trends?
There are dozens more emerging technologies and tools that are worth considering because of their potential to deliver significant business benefits, including:
- Better customer and client experiences. Many technologies will help you deliver better customer service, which can provide a significant competitive advantage.
- Streamlined operations. The less time you and your team spend on mundane tasks, the more time you can devote to important responsibilities that build business value.
- Cost savings. The latest tools can save time, reduce training costs, improve productivity, and offer additional cost-saving benefits that lead to a stronger bottom line.
Get the help you need
It can be a daunting task to learn about and evaluate the value of every new technology that hits the market. For help, some organizations turn to an outsourced accounting partner to sort through all the options and identify which ones fit their needs.
Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with both nonprofits and businesses. From audit assistance to business consulting, our experts are available to help you identify the latest solutions to make your organization more efficient and productive.
The Accounting Tools You Need for Grant Tracking and Reporting
Winning grants is great news for nonprofit organizations. But managing those grants can be a time-consuming challenge for the accounting team, which needs to track, bill, and report on every one of them.
To streamline that process, it is important to have the right accounting tools in place, which often means moving from Excel-driven charts to more advanced cloud-based accounting software solutions such as Sage Intacct, which provide powerful report visualizations, as well as real-time reports that make it easy to drill down to the details that matter.
Save time and deepen insights
With a more feature-rich accounting software platform like Sage Intacct, you can easily centralize all your grant documents from corporations, foundations, government agencies, and more.
Simply import data from your membership and donor software, regardless of source or award type, and you can report and compare your grant budget to actuals on grants with reporting periods that differ with your fiscal year. It’s simple to search and report on grant delivery, impact metrics, and financial data, which can save you hours of time.
The customizable dashboards in Sage Intacct allow you to monitor all your grants in real time and collaborate easily within the system to ensure that budgets line up with performance and delivery. The dashboards clearly display non-financial metrics that are used regularly when creating grant reports or fundraising campaigns, including the number of clients served and how that figure compares to the prior year.
If your organization is involved in a grant to increase membership, you could easily see on the dashboard where membership stands today. Then you could drill down further to compare and contrast different membership groups.
More broadly, advanced software platforms give you more visibility and control across operations. By centralizing task tracking for grants and other projects, you can see at a glance what needs to be done and when. As your grant is used, you can monitor spending and track the budget plan in real time. And deadlines are a lot easier to meet when you can collaborate online with team members to ensure milestones are met.
Streamline your grant reporting process
Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience helping nonprofits achieve their missions and streamline their business processes. Whether you need business consulting or audit or other services, our experts are available to help.
What’s the True Cost of the Wrong Fit?
Hiring a full-time employee to join your financial team is like entering a marriage—it is, you hope, a long-term commitment that will benefit both parties. When that relationship unexpectedly falls apart, the cost to businesses and nonprofits is higher than you might think, not only in hard costs but also in lost morale and other soft costs.
The hard costs
Every new employee is an investment and a costly one at that. Before the hire, hours are spent reviewing resumes, conducting interviews, and performing background checks. After the hire, days or weeks are devoted to training the new employee, and if the employee doesn’t work out, you have to go through the costly search and training process all over again.
In addition, if a hire isn’t meeting expectations, that means your organization is suffering from poor productivity, as well as suffering opportunity costs related to what the employee should be doing well but isn’t. On top of that, there’s the added cost of intervention—meeting with the employee, developing plans for corrective action, and redirecting other employees from their responsibilities to cover for the poor performer’s faults.
Those hard costs are only the beginning. If your new hire is disengaged or burned out, if they have bad work habits or bad morale, it’s likely, if not inevitable, that their attitude will spread to the rest of your financial team.
If you’re lucky, you’ll notice the issue right away and take steps to correct their behavior or remove them from your organization before they damage your culture. Often, though, months go by in which managers struggle to pinpoint the issue and then devote precious time and resources to figuring out which actions to take. Throughout that process, negative attitude could be spreading.
What are your options?
All of this is not to suggest that you should never hire a new employee. Rather, recognizing the extremely high cost of the wrong fit will hopefully inspire you to devote more time and energy to establishing excellent hiring practices that reduce the likelihood of making a hiring mistake. You might also consider outsourcing some financial responsibilities as an alternative to hiring full-time employees.
Make the right decision for your organization
Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with both nonprofits and businesses. Whether you need recruiting assistance or business consulting, our experts are available to help.
Why Real-Time Visibility Matters
Business today moves fast—extremely fast—which places a lot of pressure on executives to quickly evaluate data and make informed decisions without delay. To do that, they need visibility into real-time metrics from across the organization, and they need that information to be readily available and easy to understand.
Take, for example, a retailer that operates two outlets. During a holiday sale (or on any given day), the manager might want to examine key metrics at one store and then see how those figures compare to those at the other location. By finding variances, the manager can identify opportunities and best practices to rapidly improve operations at each store.
Or consider another business that needs to track financial as well as business metrics. If executives need consolidated accounts receivable, or want to look at key data by programs or clients, how long should they have to wait? To be competitive, they need to be able to access that information, sorted as necessary, and take action within minutes.
The value of the latest accounting software
People who work in finance and accounting are often tasked with producing real-time reports to help executives make these types of on-the-fly decisions. That’s not easy to do with some accounting systems that require downloading accounting data to Excel and then combining it with statistical data. Sometimes IT has to get involved or new fields have to be added to accounting tables, which takes time and can lead to mistakes or oversights.
Every delay costs the organization in several ways: Employees are spending their valuable time on the task, executives are being delayed, and the business is losing out on whatever improvements could have been made in the interim.
These issues are why many organizations have adopted advanced accounting solutions such as Sage Intacct, the best-in-class cloud ERP platform. Sage Intacct is based in the cloud and can be accessed anywhere, anytime, from a range of mobile devices. The customizable dashboards are easy for decision-makers to understand, and they can drill down with ease to get to the bottom of the data that matters most to them.
In addition, Sage Intacct uses what it calls “Dimensions” to better capture the business context of transactions, budgets, and more. The eight built-in Dimensions include project, department, employee, and item, and additional Dimensions can be added as needed. That means organizations can quickly create reports that analyze real-time business performance by whatever business driver interests them—without having to create and manage a chart of accounts with hundreds of segments.
Get the visibility you need
With better visibility, decision-makers can make fast, smart decisions with confidence. Insero & Co. can help you evaluate best-in-class software solutions and transition to solutions that give you real-time visibility—and a competitive edge.
The Challenge of Board Engagement
Just about every nonprofit understands the need for a motivated and engaged board of directors. So why doesn’t every nonprofit have one? Because it’s challenging to develop—and maintain—a healthy board.
The good news is that you can take a number of concrete steps to motivate both new and existing members of your board of directors, including these:
- Engage board members in the mission: Involve members in as many programs and activities as possible, so they can better understand and value the organization’s mission.
- Set high expectations: People rise to the level of expectations set for them, so set high expectations for new board members. Otherwise, you risk losing their attention.
- Set specific goals: By setting yearly financial goals, and revisiting them regularly, you can keep members on track.
- Use the latest technology: Provide board members with easy-to-read reports, marketing material, and other information to help them stay engaged and informed.
- Provide the right direction: Make sure the executive director manages the board but doesn’t lead it. If the ED is too directive, the board will not fully develop.
- Interview board members: Once a month, check in with each member. Are they pleased with their role? Have their needs or interests changed? Give them an opportunity to express themselves.
Conduct impactful board meetings
Another critical tool for building a better board is conducting impactful board meetings. Meetings set the tone for members, so plan them well, run them on time, and give members a chance to feel heard and valued.
To help board members appreciate the organization’s impact and mission, consider bringing in clients or program participants to speak or perform at meetings. You might also designate a subcommittee or person to monitor the dynamics of the group during meetings to identify issues and tensions, such as who is talking too much, who needs to talk more, and how to involve everyone.
Don’t overlook the small things
When it comes to building a successful board, details matter. Along with all the steps mentioned above, pay attention to other seemingly small things that can make a real difference:
- Collect personal information about board members (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) and acknowledge them as part of building a trusting relationship.
- Provide training on fundraising and other important board roles. Even members with skills and experience in a particular area can benefit from further training.
- Create fun contests or other incentives to encourage board members to hit their fundraising and other goals.
- Be creative to help board members succeed. If, for instance, they’re not comfortable asking for donations, send them out with an experienced staff member.
For more than four decades, Insero & Co. has served nonprofits of all sizes. Our experienced experts provide outsource accounting services, audit services, employee benefit plan audits, and other services to help organizations achieve their missions.
Build a Better Board with a Better Board Orientation
Every job needs a job description, and every new member of a nonprofit’s board of directors needs a board orientation. The reasons are similar: In both cases, you want the new member of your team to know exactly what is expected of them, so they can be successful right out of the gate.
Key information in a board orientation
Make sure that, at a minimum, your board orientation provides new members with:
- A written description of the position
- A review of organizational operations (mission, bylaws, organizational chart, recent Form 990s, etc.)
- A summary of board goals, with a review of recent meeting minutes
- Fundraising obligations
- Attendance expectations and when and for how long the board meets
Motivate and inform
The board orientation provides an opportunity to do more than simply inform members of their roles and responsibilities. It also provides a chance to let new board members know how important they are to the organization’s success.
When members know that their skills and experience are valued, and they know exactly what’s expected of them, they’ll feel more confident when talking to friends, family, and potential donors. They’ll also be more likely to value their position and feel empowered to use their skills and experience to help the organization meet its goals.
Build a better board
Another advantage of conducting a thorough board orientation is that it can help the entire board of directors run more smoothly. If a new member comes on board who does not understand the organization’s mission or is confused or surprised by member responsibilities, the disruption can disrupt operations for both the board and the executive team.
In contrast, the arrival of a new member who understands the organization’s mission knows exactly what is expected of them, and feels empowered to tackle new challenges can breathe new life into the board and the organization.
Insero & Co. has served nonprofits of all sizes for more than 40 years. Our experts provide outsource accounting services, audit services, employee benefit plan audits, and other services to help organizations be more productive and efficient.
3 Tips to Implement Change Successfully
You know what’s hard for organizations? Change. You know what’s worse? Standing still. Whether you need to implement a new corporate process or a new technology, it is critical to not only get the solution and strategy right but also to implement it in a manner that wins over skeptics and ensures long-term success.
Here are three tips for implementing change successfully.
Tip #1: Recognize that a great idea is only the beginning
Let’s say you know—quantitatively, unequivocally—that your organization needs to automate its accounting system. It’s an absolute no-brainer. If you think your work is done, that all you have to do now is implement your wonderful automated solution, you’re making a mistake.
Anytime you’re going to change something at your organization, recognize that there will be hesitancy and resistance. There always is when it comes to dealing with change. So you have to be prepared to tackle several issues that are not about the product but about the culture:
- Win over management, so you have their support
- Engage and educate employees
- Identify opportunities for collaboration across affected divisions
- Make sure it’s clear who is in charge and accountable
Tip #2: Make it a two-way conversation
Employees are less likely to get onboard with a new technology or other solution—again, regardless of how great it is—if they’re simply told after the fact what it is and why it’s good for them.
Avoid employee resistance by engaging, as many of them as possible in the full process, from strategy development through implementation. Often, they’ll have valuable, on-the-ground insights into what’s working and what’s not—and they’ll feel more empowered, valued, and engaged.
When you announce a forthcoming change to employees, make sure that you explain not only what it is but also why, how, and when it’s being implemented. If you’re not ready to answer all those questions, you’re not ready to announce the change.
Tip #3: Review and refine your change processes
After implementing a new process or tool, it’s important to evaluate how well it worked—not the solution itself but the change process. Ask questions such as:
- Did management adequately support the change?
- Was there employee resistance? How could it have been better avoided?
- Was the implementation plan followed? If not, why not?
- Did the change process move fast enough? Are greater efficiencies possible?
Insero & Co. is one of the premier public accounting firms in Western, Central, Upstate, and the Southern Tier of New York. Contact us about our outsource accounting services, audit services, employee benefit plan audits, and how we can help your organization be more productive and efficient.
5 Reasons to Automate Your Accounting Processes
Many businesses begin using manual accounting processes and continue to do so as they grow, often because of the appeal of maintaining the status quo. The problem is that at some point those manual processes can slow organizations down, hindering growth and innovation.
If you’ve been on the fence about transitioning to automated accounting processes, it might help to consider the following benefits of automating your accounting processes with Sage Intacct or other cloud ERP solutions.
- Save time
Are your month-end closes taking up most of the month? Have you missed payment deadlines? Manual data entry is tedious and time-consuming, with employees spending hours on mind-numbing manual tasks instead of focusing on strategic tasks that add real value to the business.
- Be accurate and consistent
Even highly skilled employees will occasionally make mistakes. Automation alleviates common data entry errors and ensures that every action is performed identically, so your customers, clients, and internal departments receive a consistently high level of service.
- Reduce costs
Manual tasks almost always take longer than automated tasks, which means they demand more employee hours every week, month, and year. Automation reduces those work hours and helps prevent errors that can lead to unexpected additional costs.
- Increase visibility
Using manual accounting methods, it can be extremely difficult to monitor, update, reconcile, and report on every internal process across the organization. When you automate billing, collections, sales, and other processes, you can automatically record and report on key metrics, in real time, so the information you need is always at hand.
- Reduce risk
Automated processes can help you reduce the risk that you are out of compliance with the latest regulations or vulnerable to data breaches and other security concerns. Automated, cloud-based accounting solutions are automatically updated to adhere to the latest guidelines, and top providers follow strict security guidelines to protect your business and its data.
Where to start?
If you’re convinced of the benefits of automating your accounting functions but overwhelmed by the challenge, remember that you can start slowly. For instance, you could automate your accounts payable workflows or audit documentation first, and move gradually to a completely automated solution.
Insero & Co. can help you weigh the benefits of automating your accounting processes and help you make the transition to best-in-class software. Contact us to talk about the relationship-based services we provide and how we can help you improve your processes to be more efficient and productive.
Successful nonprofits tend to have healthy, energized boards of directors. Board members don’t just show up—they actively participate in meetings, fundraise, provide thoughtful oversight, and much more.
The challenge for many nonprofits is to build and then maintain a strong and engaged board. One way to do this is by performing a periodic board assessment, which can accomplish a number of important goals:
- Illustrate (and reiterate) the board’s importance to the organization
- Define roles and prevent duplication of effort among board members
- Provide opportunities for self-reflection regarding strengths, weaknesses, etc.
- Create a baseline for future efforts
- Help begin essential conversations (about term limits, recruitment, etc.)
- Provide a format for expressing concerns and raising or revisiting concerns
How to build a board assessment
If you think your nonprofit would benefit from a board assessment, begin by asking these two fundamental questions, which will drive the framework for your assessment:
- Why does this nonprofit exist?
- How can our board help advance our mission?
There is no single template for board assessments. Depending on your needs, you can tailor the format, questions, grading scales, and more. For example, you might want to ask each board member to rate the board on a scale from 1-5 on topics such as performance on core responsibilities, understanding the mission, and succession planning.
Typically, you’ll want to describe each item you ask about, such as what exactly the board’s core responsibilities are. That ensures that every board member is responding based on the same understanding, and it helps to educate board members who may not have a full understanding of every topic.
Another best practice is to leave room for comments, which can add depth and insight to the results. Remember that your goal is not only to gather information from board members but also to encourage them to reflect on their individual and collective performance, which can lead to new ideas and insights, as well as a greater feeling of belonging.
When you collect and compare all of the board assessments, you can identify challenges, strengths, and opportunities, which can be relayed to board members. Using that information, you can then start to outline the topics of conversation in your timeline for governance agendas.
Insero & Co. has worked with nonprofits for more than 40 years. Our experienced experts are available to help you with outsource accounting services, audit services, employee benefit plan audits, and other services designed to free you to focus on mission-critical work.