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 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.
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.
10 Ways Automated Accounting Can Help Your Organization
Probably you know that automated accounting processes are more efficient than manual processes. And yet many businesses and nonprofits hang on to old, familiar accounting methods involving manual data entry, spreadsheets, and basic financial tools like QuickBooks.
One reason for maintaining the status quo might be that organizations don’t realize the full range of benefits of automation. With that in mind, here’s a list of 10 benefits of transitioning from manual accounting processes to advanced software solutions such as Sage Intacct that automate key processes.
1. Save time
If your month-end closes are taking most of the month, it’s time to consider automating your accounting processes.
2. Focus on what matters
When employees no longer have to spend hours on mind-numbing manual tasks, they can instead devote those hours to strategic efforts that add real value to your organization.
3. Reduce errors
Automated accounting alleviates common data entry errors and ensures that every task is performed identically, so you and your clients or customers can trust in the numbers.
4. Lower costs
Manual tasks require more employee hours every week, month, and year. Automation makes you more efficient—and helps prevent errors that can lead to unexpected additional costs.
5. Make better decisions
By automating billing, collections, sales, and other processes, you can record and report on key metrics in real time, so executives have all the information they need to make smart decisions.
6. Reduce risk
Automated accounting solutions help ensure that you’re always in compliance with the latest regulations, as they’re automatically updated to adhere to the latest guidelines.
7. Be more secure
Top accounting software providers follow strict security protocols to ensure your organization and its data is protected against data breaches and other security threats.
8. Improve service
Manual processes lead to mistakes and oversights, like late payments to vendors and overlooked bill payments. With automated solutions, you can provide more reliable service to customers, partners, and your own employees.
9. Better audit preparation
By automating your accounting processes, you can prepare more effectively and efficiently for audits, ensuring that you have all the documentation you need to make the process as painless as possible.
10. Improved cash flow
By reducing the time it takes to get approved expenses into your accounting system, you can reduce the time between paying the credit card and getting reimbursed by the client.
Is it time to automate?
Insero & Co. can help you determine if it’s time to automate your processes and if so, help you make the transition as seamlessly as possible using best-in-class software. Contact us to talk about the relationship-based services we provide and how they might help save you time and money every month.
How to Tell When You Need Third-Party Accounting Support
Businesses and nonprofits need to weigh the benefits of in-house versus outsourced accounting support to determine which model is best for them. To make a wise decision, it is important to look not only at the more obvious hard costs but also at easily overlooked costs—including opportunity costs.
What is the real cost of in-house vs. outsourced accounting?
The first and most obvious cost to consider is the hard cost of in-house versus third-party accounting services. This includes not only employee costs compared to contractor costs but also the cost of maintaining on-site equipment to support your accounting team.
Many organizations find that outsourcing some or all accounting services can save money in the long run, but you will need to run the numbers to see what makes the most sense for your business.
What is the value of your time?
Another cost to consider relates to your time and where you choose to spend it. How many hours each month are your accounting team—and other employees—spending on accounting tasks, and could their time be better spent on more business-forward initiatives?
Careful tracking of employee time sometimes reveals that a surprising amount of time is spent on finance-related tasks that could easily be outsourced. Then the question becomes how those employees’ time could be better, and more profitably, be spent to help the organization grow and be more successful.
Are you missing out on valuable reports and forecasts?
Small organizations in particular often have owners and other executives working on bookkeeping and accounting-related tasks. They might be able to do the basics, but it is important to consider what value-added services they might be overlooking that could help the organization.
For example, accounting professionals can provide weekly cash flow forecasts that provide an early warning of positive and negative cash situations and offer insight into when funds are expected to come in and be paid out. These and other forecasts provide information that can translate into real savings.
Outsourcing to accounting professionals can result in other upgrades. For instance, more detailed, real-time reports can identify issues and opportunities that lead to better business decisions. Better audit preparation can also save hours of time and costs.
Is it time to outsource?
Insero & Co. can help you weigh the benefits of staying in-house versus transitioning to a third-party accounting service. If it’s the right step for your organization, we can help you get started.
Description of Infographic:
Do You Have the Right People on
Your Financial Team?
Do they know your industry?
Finding financial team members who understand the ins and outs of your industry can be difficult—and if they lack that knowledge, they could make mistakes or overlook new options or changing requirements, which could cost your organization in lost hours or fines.
Do they have the right skills and experience?
If your employees lack adequate skills and experience, that means a lot of training and management time for you, which increases your operational costs. On the other hand, hiring— and keeping—top-end accounting staff typically requires paying them high salaries.
Will they stay?
Every time an employee takes substantial time off or moves on to another job, you have to go back to the beginning— back to hiring and training another newcomer, which is a costly and time-consuming process. In addition, employees sometimes take critical knowledge with them, leaving you in a scramble to figure out how to plug the gaps they’ve left behind.
Time to outsource?
4 Reasons to Outsource Your Accounting
Outsourced accounting, bookkeeping, and other financial management services are becoming more common—and for good reason. Businesses and nonprofits that used to rely solely on internal accounting departments are finding that outsourcing some or all finance-related tasks results in significant benefits.
Lower personnel costs
There’s no getting around the fact that bookkeeping and accounting are time-consuming tasks that require ongoing staffing costs (including employee benefits), as well as equipment, facility, and IT costs.
Outsourcing finance-related tasks can be a cost-effective alternative that frees organizations to devote more time and resources to business-critical tasks and programs. Plus, some outsourcing costs can be increased or decreased as business fluctuates.
More expert assistance
Hiring a trusted on-site team with all the expertise you need is not easy, and every time an employee leaves, you have to repeat the time-consuming process of hiring and training a new employee.
Outsource accounting and financial management firms specialize in providing outstanding service, and they typically provide a dedicated team with the expertise you need in bookkeeping, accounting, controller services, reporting, and other tasks. Most are also familiar with the latest technologies and software to produce real-time reports, customizable dashboards, and more.
Fraud is a concern for any organization, especially those that have only one internal person in charge of accounting. With outsourced accounting services, multiple people look at your data and reports, which can help you reduce errors, as well as risks.
Support for business growth
By outsourcing finance-related tasks to external experts, you can free internal staff and leadership to focus on running—and growing—the organization. With less time devoted to data entry or learning the latest software programs, organizations can focus on finding new ways to grow the business.
Experienced outsourced teams can also provide a valuable outside perspective. For instance, they might be able to spot an overlooked issue with cash flow or expenditures or point out an opportunity to save time or money.
Explore your outsourcing options
Insero & Co. is one of the premier public accounting firms in Western, Central, Upstate, and the Southern Tier of New York. We offer deep experience across a variety of outsourcing services from bookkeeping to outsourced CFO services.
3 Ways to Use Data for Better Business Decision-Making
Businesses today have access to more data than ever before, which you can use to measure metrics, track trends, and gain insight into just about every aspect of your customers, products, and services.
Although gut instincts still come into play some of the time, the availability of so much data—and advanced software to calculate key performance indicators (KPIs) and issue real-time reports—makes it imperative for businesses to use data to inform their key decisions.
Following are three ways you can use data to make better, faster business decisions.
1. Use data to optimize pricing
One of the basic questions for businesses is whether they have priced their products or services too low or too high. Just because items are selling doesn’t mean the business is profitable, or that a different price might not lead to better sales and margins.
To optimize pricing, you first need up-to-date data on all costs related to each product or service. An item that is selling fast, generating a high level of revenue, may also be expensive to produce, resulting in low profits. Raising the price to reflect those higher costs might be necessary—and any price change can be closely monitored to see how it affects sales.
2. Manage your margins
Total revenue is not a true indicator of business success. What matters more are profit margins, including both contribution and gross profit margins.
Contribution margins are revenue minus variable costs. Gross profit margins are revenue minus the costs of goods sold. By following both, you can better understand what your profits are and where your break-even point is for every product and service you sell. Using those metrics, you can then look for opportunities to increase your margins—which could mean scaling back low-margin products, promoting the sale of high-margin goods, or other steps.
3. Evaluate your revenue stream
To properly evaluate your revenue stream, it is important to run individualized profit and loss statements on every client. Gut instinct might suggest that your oldest, biggest, or most renowned client is your best client. But when you run the numbers, you might be surprised by what you find.
By running individual reports, you can identify low-margin clients that are damaging your cash flow or limiting your growth. Spend too much time on serving those clients, and you might lose others. Then too, there might be an opportunity cost if you fail to reach new, higher-margin clients because you’re working so hard to maintain low-margin clients.
Get the insights you need
Insero & Co. is one of the premier public accounting firms in Western, Central, Upstate, and the Southern Tier of New York. Contact us to learn about our outsource accounting services, audit services, employee benefit plan audits, and how we can help your business use data and the latest accounting software to make more informed decisions.
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.