Flexi Makes List of Top Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Flexi is pleased to announce that it has made SoftwareWorld’s list of top Accounting Software (companies) for Small Businesses. In compiling the list, SoftwareWorld bases their selection criteria on user satisfaction (reviews & ratings), features & customizability, social media buzz, online presence, and other relevant information.

Flexi software has been one of the top accounting software companies in the world delivering impeccable accounting services to leading banks, insurance companies, thousands of hospitals, and global technology providers.

Flexi has been empowering accountants to work efficiently and securely as possible for over 30 years. Flexi has proven itself to be one of the most powerful accounting platforms to simplify complex business processes regardless of business size. Understanding various business requirements, Flexi helps in managing multi-entity books, frustrating audits, and stressful accounts. Equipped with a focus-driven approach that delivers tremendous benefits to manage financial aspects, Flexi Software has become one of the most-used accounting software platforms in the world. Flexi Software is an all-purpose cloud-based accounting software that can prove to be advantageous for the business both from cost standpoint as well as from a productivity point of view.

SoftwareWorld is a platform that showcases software companies and provides a collective review from the leading trusted review sites such as Capterra, G2crowd, and GetApp. SoftwareWorld provides start-up companies as well as prevailing and established businesses, the ability to evaluate their software needs as well as their clients, employees, and customers needs, and then map those needs back to the ratings provided by the SoftwareWorld of software companies that might fit. The website provides a collaborative review by categories of the software according to the individual business’s demands.

For three decades, Flexi’s accounting software has been put to the test in the most challenging environments where performance, security and speed are paramount. We bring a unique combination of a true enterprise solution with the built-in flexibility to adapt to any accounting environment. For more information on how Flexi’s accounting software can help take your organization to the next level of productivity, go here.

Flexi’s Star Continues to Rise in the Accounting Software Space

Supernova they are not! Flexi Software is a Rising Star according to The Spring 2021 Financial Close Management Software Customer Success Report!

In its most recent customer success report, Featured Customers, a leading customer reference platform for B2B business software & services, recognized Flexi International Software, aka Flexi, as a “Rising Star” in the Financial close management software space. For the uninitiated, FCM, or Financial close management software, or simply accounting close software, helps companies to complete the financial close process.

A Rising Star, according to the organization, is a vendor that understands where the market is going and has a disruptive technology. Rising Stars have been around long enough to establish momentum, a minimum amount of customer reference content along with a growing social media presence. This recognition is based on collected data from their customer reference platform, their market presence, their web presence, & social presence as well as additional data aggregated from online sources and media properties.

Flexi is an “on-prem” as well as a cloud-based accounting solution for the banking, insurance, healthcare, credit union and services industries. Flexi’s accounting solutions feature automation of accounting process and completion of audit trails which include a visual display of the audit workflow process, real-time visibility, analysis of financial reports and more.

Flexi’s software can save finance teams hours and weeks of time. With Flexi’s open architecture the flexibility to choose stand-alone modules as business needs dictate can happen at the drop of a hat. Find out how enterprises can gain the ultimate in speed and power with the entire financial management software platform, which is uniquely designed to allow financial data to flow securely wherever it is needed, with full integration into your other proprietary or third-party systems. Here is a link to the full article/PDF recognizing Flexi.

The Top Challenges for Accountants in Insurance Part I

In part 1 of our ongoing Flexi Education Series, we sit down and talk to Schuyler Ryan CPA, AIAF – Assistant Vice President, Finance at Union Mutual

Marc Meyer: Hi Schuyler thanks for jumping on a quick call to talk about all-things insurance and accounting. You ready to do this?

Schuyler Ryan: I am!

MM: What do you see as the top accounting challenge(s) for insurance companies?

SR: One of the challenges we face in the Accounting field is being stuck in the past which hinders us from looking toward the future. To some extent, this will never change as we cannot report financials on a period before the period ends. Our role as accountants is often looking in the rearview mirror.

As an example, while the calendar year changes, the accounting department does not turn the calendar until late in the first quarter. For the insurance industry, this is largely due to the annual statement filing deadline of March 1st and continued prior year related filings through June 1st. 

MM: Is this feeling that you are “stuck in the past” more of an accounting problem, or is it a process problem?

SR:  I would say it is a mix. The accounting part of it is just the nature of our role. You cannot report on a period until it is closed, for example you cannot report on 12/31 financials until 1/1 because you have to close all of that activity. But there is also a process piece to it.

MM: Can it be “fixed?”

SR:  There is certainly the opportunity to streamline our processes to close a financial period and complete required reporting more efficiently. By completing the close process sooner, we would have the opportunity to move on to the next period sooner. If we can move on to the next period sooner and have more real time information available, we would be better business partners to the rest of the Company.  

MM: From a process standpoint, are there ways to speed that up?

SR: Yes, for us, we work on trying to get our entries in by the 5th business day after the close of the month. This has been an improvement for us – just a couple of years ago this was a real struggle. However, we continue to work toward improved efficiency in our processes for financial closing and reporting.

One example where Flexi has helped us to implement process efficiencies is in the realm of invoice processing and accruing for invoices at period-end. Once invoices are entered in the system, they’re automatically being accrued in our financials without having to do a manual entry.

MM: That is a great lead-in to my next question. Because of the proliferation of new tools and technologies, is it safe to say that your job is getting easier?

SR: I would say new tools and technologies make some of the more run of the mill bookkeeping tasks easier and more efficient. Overall, as referenced previously, we’ve seen a lot of improvement particularly in some more of the basic areas like creating journal entries and entering/processing invoices.

The automated workflow within Flexi for invoice processing and approvals is a time saver as is the ability to copy and paste journal entries. However, there are still complex accounting processes that require the skills of an Accountant. Being able to streamline some of the more basic tasks have helped to free up members of the team to take on more complex tasks that help them to develop and grow professionally.

MM: There could never be too much automation, could there be?

SR: In general, I would say no. But it must be careful automation. You do not want to automate a process that has so many nuances that you end up spending more time correcting automation (that’s done incorrectly) than if you had just done it manually. The goal is to automate things in a way that is effective.

We’re not able to automate everything and I think it’s because of all those nuances, but if you can get it to a good place then I don’t think there can be too much automation if it’s working effectively.

MM: You talked earlier about your staff and how you want them to employ more critical thinking and problem-solving skills. From your standpoint, are they embracing that mindset?

SR: I am incredibly proud of how our accounting department has embraced this growth mindset. I really want people who are visionaries, who are innovative, and who are thinking about things like, “How can we streamline this process?  How can we help the company be the best that it can be?”

This has shifted over recent years and actually points back to an earlier interview on accounting automation that you did with Spencer Kuo in which he talked about that “bookkeeper mentality.” That mentality is gone. Accountants are no longer just “bean counters” anymore. We really need to be analytical and help the larger organization to make strategic decisions.

That transition of the person who wants to do the bookkeeping to someone who needs to be a problem solver is important. It’s critical to have a finance team full of critical thinkers and individuals who can embrace change and innovation.

MM: Do you think we are at the crossroads when it comes to the role of the accountant? When you interview new job candidates, do they know that is what you’re looking for? Do they realize the expectations in accounting have changed?

SR: That is a good question. I do think we are at the crossroads and we do need to make that shift. In terms of interviewing candidates, I am looking for someone who is a critical thinker, a problem solver, and who is not content with doing the same thing every day.

When you have these interviews and meet candidates, you can get a sense from people when you simply ask them, “What made you get into accounting?” Do they want to manage debits and credits, or do they want to think through and solve problems? There is a definite difference.

MM: That is an interesting question to ask because I would not even know what a typical response would be. But I guess it is safe to say that everyone gets in it for different reasons.

SR: When I first started in accounting, my thinking was, “I like the concept of everything balancing,” and that makes/made sense to me because accounting was very black and white. But now, it has really shifted to the fact that I feel like I am doing a different thing every day, I am forecasting, and I’m really thinking about how different decisions will impact the financials. So, my perspective has shifted for me throughout my career as I have learned that it is not so black and white after all.

MM: So, today’s accountant needs to be more well-rounded? Skilled?

SR: Skilled is a good way of phrasing it. Simply put, people must be smart. You cannot do this job by just following step-by-step instructions. I look for people who I know are going to be smart and who can think critically about the task at hand. I like members of the team to have diverse skills and backgrounds because they can challenge and encourage each other by offering different perspectives.

MM: Is it hard to find talent these days?

SR: Yes, it certainly can be. It is not as easy as you might think. Often, people see a job opening for an accountant and they think bookkeeper but that is not what I am looking for. There are more simplistic roles that are suitable for someone who fits into that role, so I don’t mean to discredit that. It is just that, for our team – in corporate accounting for insurance, for example – I am looking for someone who has a different skill set- analytical and forward-thinking.

MM: So, the notion of automation taking everyone’s jobs is not exactly happening anytime soon?

SR: No. 😊

MM: We are almost done. This has been great, by the way. So, challenge wise, what happens in the industry in five to ten years? Are we poised for a technical tsunami in which AI and automation just turn the industry upside down?

SR: When you say industry, are you speaking of Insurance or Accounting?

MM: Let’s make it a two-fold question then. Let’s talk first about accounting and then how accounting is affecting insurance.

SR: Got it. As far as AI and Automation, I do think they are both going to continue to shape the accounting field and again, it redefines the type of person you want to hire. Regarding what it means to the overall finance and accounting departments, if you can automate some of the more basic functions, we’re still going to have people working in accounting. It is just going to be different in terms of the problems we’re solving and the goals we’re trying to achieve.

In terms of insurance, it is probably not much different from other industries from an accounting perspective. But the insurance industry, as a whole, is seeing so much change in terms of automation and AI. When technology moves throughout the company it sort of pulls accounting along. So, when we’re automating other areas, it gets you thinking about how you can make these improvements in other departments. Accounting is no exception there.

MM: What’s on your wish list that could make your job easier?

SR: One of the reasons we implemented Flexi was to try and reduce our reliance on excel in our processes. I would like to see us continue to explore the capabilities of Flexi and optimizing it to reduce our reliance on Excel and improve our overall financial reporting structure. Any way that we can automate things that tend to be repetitive and that aren’t worth the brainpower of our team, I’m all for it.

MM: Schuyler, believe it or not, we are done! That went super quick. Thank you so much for your time. Have a great rest of your week!

SR: Thank you- you’re welcome!

What is Accounting Automation?

Flexi Education Series

What is Accounting Automation? An interview with Spencer Kuo

In our inaugural post for our Flexi Education Series. We sat down with Spencer Kuo. Spencer is Vice President of Solution Consulting at Flexi Software. Recently, we had the pleasure of talking with Spencer about accounting automation and what the future holds for accountants and the accounting practice.

Marc Meyer: Thanks for taking the time to do this Spencer. Let’s jump right into it. What is Accounting Automation?

Spencer Kuo: Accounting automation is a broad category but it’s pretty much the same as any other “type” of automation. We simply want to reduce or replace manual processes that may take an accountant several steps with something that is more a computer can do for them, ultimately benefiting accountants by giving them back more time.  Accounting automation is something that continuously evolves over time, largely based on technology. In its most advanced form today, technologies like Artificial Intelligence are being deployed to help accountants make decisions and automate some of the data/and data analysis.

MM; It’s my understanding that accounting automation has evolved because you had certain processes that were repetitive, and so automating them was a natural progression (and easy transition) to automate them. Is that right?

SK: Certainly. Those repetitive tasks were easiest to automate as they are the low hanging fruit of accounting systems. Modern accounting systems can eliminate many of those routine, day-to-day tasks in accounting.

MM: Do you remember when this first happened? How long has accounting automation been “around”?

SK: Well, it’s always been around. There have been accounting automation systems but to different degrees. What automation was available 20 years ago is dwarfed by what was available 10 years ago by what’s available to today, and it’s just going to continue to evolve and improve up to a certain point.

MM: It sounds like the biggest benefit is that you’re reducing manual processes; you’re speeding up certain processes. Am I on the right path?

SK: Yes, there are several major benefits. One benefit is less manual labor so employees can be more productive. The second benefit is a reduction in mistakes or human error as there is less data entry. The system is doing it for me, so you have much more accurate financials.

Why does that matter? It all boils down to better analytics and reporting. So the goal of the accounting function, in terms of bookkeeping, is an effort to provide the data needed to make better decisions that will help the business be more successful, and reports that regulatory bodies need to ensure compliance. By automating the accounting – which ultimately leads to less errors and more accurate data – helps to fulfill these goals.

MM: One question everyone wonders: Are the days of an accountant numbered?

SK: No, on the contrary, it’s just that their roles have shifted from being heads down data entry people to more strategically focused functions that are working towards the strategic goals of the company. They have more time now and better data.

MM: Do you feel like accountants now, rather than just reporting the numbers, have become more like strategists?

SK: Absolutely. Back in the day, accountants were viewed “just” as bookkeepers. They were there to purely record the money and nothing more. The old way of “doing” accounting (and it still exists today) is the concept of what we call ROR or Record to Report: record a bunch of information and create reports. That is what the role of an accountant has been, and often continues to be. The future of accounting automation, though, is less about the recording and more analysis of the information.

We have concrete information to help put accountants at ease. I’ve interviewed some of our Flexi customers informally that have adopted some of our automation technology like Workflow, and I have asked them, “Now that you have implemented Flexi and you have all this automation, what has been the impact on the accounting staff? Were you able to reduce staff?”

The answer was no. Not only had they maintained their existing staff, but they have actually grown. But what has changed is the nature or type of hire that is sought after now versus a decade ago. They used to hire “bean counters” that were lower level data-entry people but now that has changed. So let’s say you had five people. Three would have been data entry, one would have managed them and the other might have been either a controller or a VP of finance. Now, you don’t have data entry people anymore, you have five people who are more data analysts, or business analysts with finance and accounting backgrounds. The number of accountants has not changed, but the skillsets have.

MM: Thus, the reality is that the role or job description of the accountant is pretty far removed from that of the “bean counter”. The core skills needed today are all about the data and being able to analyze that information and make data-based recommendations. Which has me believing that contrary to the fears that accountants’ days are numbered, the accountant is now more valuable than ever.

SK: Exactly. I would say that right now, today, accounting, technology and automation have reached this inflection point in which accounting is automated enough and the analytics and reporting is good enough to enable the accounting department to make that evolutionary shift from being just bean counters to being more of an analytical organization.

MM: Interesting. You mentioned AI earlier. Does automation have AI baked into it? Or is that something that is completely separate from this?

SK: While we’re in the early phases and you can see some of this in Flexi’s accounting software, continued AI advancement is actually the next evolution. Automation has always existed in various forms but AI is just another technology used to accomplish automation. Look to AI being very common as we move towards the next generation of accounting systems.

MM: Then RPA is just taking those manual accounting processes and letting a bot do them in order to free up an accountant to do more valuable activities right?

SK: Yes. We can think of it like this: more routine, repeatable tasks are for the robots whereas the more cognitive and less repetitive tasks are for the accountant.

MM: Interestingly enough, I’ve probably seen more articles about RPA eliminating accounting jobs more than anything else. I actually think RPA augments the functions of an accountant rather than eliminates them. You’ve been pretty adamant that RPA is not a deal killer for accounting.

SK: True. But I do see a deal killer out there for accountants though.

MM: Oooh, let’s hear it.

SK: I can see a shift towards outsourced accounting. Similar to what we’re seeing with HR. We’ve seen it with IT, we’ve seen it with Legal. So accounting is logically next in terms of back-office functions that companies are going to outsource. Honestly, if you want to achieve 100% automation of your accounting functions, then outsourcing it would be the next logical step. If we have decided that the role of the accountant is strictly as an analyst and less of a data-entry person, then the easiest way to do that, would be to outsource that portion.

MM: What industries does accounting automation fit best?

SK: It’s industry agnostic. Every industry needs it but those that are more regulated are the ones that would be most impacted. Anytime there are regulations that create complexity in accounting, then automation can have the biggest return. Financial Services comes to mind based on the amount of regulations.

MM: Insurance?

SK: Yes, banking, insurance, and financial services are pretty notable.

MM: There’s always a contrarian point of view. What do you see as the downside to accounting automation?

SK: Generally speaking there’s usually a trade-off between automation and flexibility. The more automated you make things, the less flexible they can be.

MM: What does that mean exactly?

SK; it just means that automation needs to be applied in the right places rather than trying to automate everything. You have to be judicious in where you’re applying the automation.

MM: We’re almost done here and you’ve already mentioned what you can see happening in the industry but automation aside, where do you see accounting in five years?

SK: I think you’ll see artificial intelligence being applied to accounting to help with decision support. Automation today is essentially rules based. Functionally speaking, AI will help in picking up processes that automation simply can’t do. So whereas automation follows the rules, AI will help to write the rules.

MM: Wow, so rather than AI making decisions based on the results, AI will create the rules of which the decisions will be made based on the results. That’s fascinating.

SK: That’s right. I’d say today, AI is being used more for suggestions. It’s not writing the rules and saying “I think this is what the rules should be but you tell me which way you want to go,” but eventually it will interpreting patterns and behaviors enough to figure it out and write the rules.

MM: Just to tie this conversation into a neat bow, Flexi is probably positioned really well in anticipating what’s coming next in terms of automation or AI, right?

SK: Absolutely. When Flexi was first developed, the technology was client-server, we were the first to do it, we were the first to foresee the need for multi-tenancy. We developed a Workflow solution way ahead of its time. Same with the rules-engine which was also way ahead of its time.

In fact some of the things that Flexi has developed were too far ahead of its time. The ideas were way forward thinking but the technology wasn’t widely available yet and the users weren’t ready for it. We’ve always been looking at what the next trend is and right now we’re looking at AI pretty hard.

MM: Spencer, unfortunately we’re at the top of the hour. I want to thank you for your time, this was really interesting and we probably could have gone longer, easily. Maybe next time we will. Have a good one and good luck in 2021.

For more information on how Flexi software can help your company power through your accounting challenges, reach out to us 24/7. In the meantime, be on the lookout for our next installment of the Flexi Education Series. 

Why Accounting Systems for Credit Unions are More Important Than Ever During COVID-19

When it comes to companies affected by the Pandemic no one has been excluded. Including credit unions. When talking about accounting software, credit unions have core systems that run their operations, such as deposits and loans, just like other companies, in addition to basic accounting modules that include general ledger, accounts payable and reporting. While these core systems have basic features to complete accounting tasks, it’s often not enough to keep up with industry standards. Members on credit unions operations teams get just as busy with other duties like generating revenue and working with members and thus don’t have time to keep their systems up to date.

With COVID-19 affecting every aspect of our lives and more businesses and their employees being forced to go remote, it is more important now than ever before to give your credit union accounting system a face-lift. Below are three reasons why it might be time for credit union’s to take their accounting systems to the next level during these unprecedented times.

  1. Cloud Based Platform

Because employees are being forced to work remote, it is critical for everyone to have access to the accounting system from anywhere. All users should be able to have access to the numbers and data at home. Additionally, IT may not be around to help with support, so it’s important to work in a platform that’s user friendly and has the capabilities needed. In fact, Flexi is among the most experienced accounting software providers in both the cloud and on-premise markets, which minimizes the risk of dealing with older technology systems. When an employee at a credit union asks for a report, it can take a significant amount of time to gather the data they’re requesting. Wouldn’t it be nice to know the information they’re looking for is ready instantaneously? With Flexi, we provide real time visibility into your financial position right in the cloud, making your organization more agile, so that when information is needed, it’s easily accessible, no matter where you’re physically located.

  1. Pricing Flexibility

With the uncertainty that the pandemic is causing for a lot of credit unions, it is important to work with a partner who provides subscription-based pricing that gives you flexibility! The last thing your credit union needs to worry about during this time is dealing with the costs accounting systems bring. Having subscription based pricing, you can prepare for that cost each month, not having surprises or increases in your bill.

  1. Paperless Workflow Automation

The inefficiencies manual processes cause have been exacerbated more than ever due to the increase in remote employees. Paperless workflow automation solves this. Accountants often have stacks of paperwork that show numbers, do calculations in spreadsheets and use various tools to get the numbers they are looking for. Papers and spreadsheets additionally leave room for error, decrease organization and are inefficient. For example, at multi-company or branch accounting outfits, these serve as gaps due to inadequate technology solutions which create an increase in manual work and a heightened risk of mistakes. Flexi has several apps such as eInvoice, eVendor, and eJournal that take paper and spreadsheet processes and convert them to software applications, streamlining the accounting process.

With all the uncertainty in the world currently and not knowing when things might return to normal, it’s important to be certain about one thing, and that is that your accounting system supports your financial needs and your employees. Don’t waste more time working in a system or environment that’s ineffective. Reach out to our team at Flexi, so we can give you the tools and support you need when you upgrade and or migrate to our financial management software.

The 5 Most Important Features to Look for in Financial Management Software

Companies across numerous industries – healthcare, banking, investment, and others – rely heavily on their financial management software to streamline their operations. With so many options from which to choose, it can be difficult to know which software is right for your company. Below, you can learn more about the five most important features of the best financial management software platforms. 

#1 – Cloud-Based Technology

Of all the features that you should look for in your financial management software, this is one of the most important. Cloud-based platforms are critical because they allow for collaboration across departments, they make it easy for individuals to access information from anywhere, and they make it simple to deploy software anywhere it is needed – even on the go. It ensures that everyone has access to the exact same data at the same time, too, which goes a long way toward preventing misunderstandings and the mistakes that can arise from them. 

#2 – Workflow Automation

Your financial management software should be able to carry out many of your accounting processes automatically, as well. This saves you and your finance team a great deal of time and effort by reducing the number of repetitive tasks. What’s more, when you can automate based on your own rules, it also reduces the likelihood of mistakes that can lead to serious issues. 

#3 – Ledger Consolidation

If your company consists of several branches, locations, or franchises, then it’s important to choose a platform that makes it easy to manage your finances across all entities with ease. In fact, look for an option that allows you to simplify these complexities and create reports based on any data you choose almost instantly. Consolidating ledgers across multiple entities should never be complicated, even when you are dealing with different current currencies. 

#4 – Real-Time Data 

Though historical data certainly plays an important role in making business decisions, access to real-time data takes things even further. Making business decisions can be tough as it is, but with access to real-time data, you can be confident that the decisions you are making are based on the most accurate and up-to-date information available. No matter what the situation or decision, real-time data makes it easier. 

 #5 – Simplified Auditing

Finally, you should choose financial management software that provides you with a complete audit trail for every single transaction your company processes. This should include not only the original transaction, but also the workflow and all the approvals that led up to that transaction. This is a great way to ensure that you are following various guidelines, and it also allows you to produce compliance documentation in mere seconds. 

Your financial management software is an important part of your business. You rely on it to understand how your company is faring at any given time, so the information you access should always be accurate and up-to-date. When choosing financial management software, be sure that it offers you these five features as well as the ability to customize reports and workflow automation to your company’s unique needs. 

How Process-Driven Automation is Changing the Game for Executives Around the World

CFOs continue to play important roles within their companies as they provide insight and make decisions that can completely alter the future of their companies. In 2012, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants put out a report that included predictions about how the roles of CFOs would change in the coming years, and thanks to process-driven automation, their predictions are coming true. 

Big Changes in the Financial Realm

To put it simply, process-driven automation can be described as the use of one or more digital technologies to automatically perform a process designed to accomplish a specific goal. As technology continues to improve – and as computers and their software become more powerful – more and more processes are being automated every single day. Some of the biggest changes that have come as the result of process-driven automation in the financial industry include: 

  • Optimizing credit decisions. Banks and credit unions must assess their risk each time they open a new account or provide a loan. Once upon a time, this involved spending many days or even weeks analyzing the applicant’s credit. Today, thanks to the abundance of data and process automation, decisions can be reached in days – if not hours. 
  • Reducing financial risk. Process-driven automation can also help CFOs and accountants understand financial risk. With the wide variety of reporting options available, it is possible to predict how a business decision will influence revenue with greater accuracy than ever before. 
  • Improving customer service. Process-driven automation even improves customer service by giving customers the ability to review their accounts, apply for services, or gather information automatically, in real time, and without having to wait for assistance. 
  • Ensuring compliance. Larger companies that rely on various departments can also utilize process-driven automation to ensure compliance with safety or security regulations as well as companies’ own policies. 

The Role of the CFO

Not long ago, much of a CFO’s time was spent crunching numbers and comparing data in order to better understand the company’s complex finances. In other words, they spent much of their time reviewing financial data from the past and putting together reports that were easy for others to understand. Today, thanks to process-driven automation, CFOs can simply click a button to generate complex reports. 

In short, the role of the CFO has changed. Whereas they once looked into the past, accounting automation allows them to spend more of their time looking into the future. Because they no longer need to spend countless hours at their desks poring over spreadsheets and compiling months’ worth of data into understandable reports, they can spend more of their time concentrating on the more critical aspects of their jobs – analytics, fraud detection, compliance, and more. 

Finance executives in industries like banking, healthcare, and advising have always worked hard to provide data and insights designed to improve their companies’ revenue and facilitate growth. Process-driven automation has not replaced the CFO; rather, it has given them access to powerful tools that allow them to do their jobs more efficiently and accurately.

Is Your Invoicing and Billing System Serving Your Company Well? Here’s How to Tell

If your company relies on an invoicing and billing system to generate revenue, it may be worth your time to analyze the systems and processes you’re using to find out if they are truly the best options for you. Below are some surefire signs that the system you are using may not be living up to your expectations and it may actually be time to upgrade your accounting software

Are There Numerous Mistakes in Your Invoices?

Invoicing mistakes can wreak havoc on your company. If they’re in your favor, it can tarnish your reputation with your clients and customers – especially if they have overpaid for a product or service in the past. If they are in your clients’ or customers’ favor, it may not affect your reputation negatively, but it certainly can cause you to miss out on a significant portion of your revenue. If mistakes seem common, it may be time to reevaluate your invoicing and billing system and consider moving to something with more automation features. 

Are Your Invoices Going Out on Time?

Invoices and bills should be sent out as soon as possible after a service is rendered. In some cases, it may even be better to send an invoice before the product or service is provided. In either case, ensuring that clients and customers receive their invoices in a timely manner is important. If they receive the invoice weeks after the fact, they may ignore it or even call to question it, and this can disrupt your cashflow a great deal. Your invoicing and billing system should allow you to generate and send invoices mostly automatically – and soon after the service or product is rendered. 

Are There Several Payment Options?

Another important consideration to make when it comes to your current invoicing and billing system is convenience. Does it give your clients and customers the option to use whatever payment method is best for them? If it doesn’t, this can cause delays in remitting payment, and once again, that can disrupt your cash flow. You should always use a billing system that makes it easy for your clients and customers to pay their invoices online via credit card, debit card, or even an electronic wallet service – whatever is best for them. 

Can You Get Information in Real Time?

Depending on the size of your company, you may have an accounts receivables team contacting clients or customers about their unpaid invoices throughout the week. This collection activity can and often does help companies improve their revenue, but it can also be frustrating for your clients and customers if information isn’t updated in real time. For example, if a client pays his or her bill at 9am, but the system doesn’t update immediately, then that same customer may receive a frustrating collection call at 3pm the same day. To prevent this, make sure that your invoicing and billing system updates information in real time. 

As technologies continue to improve, and as financial management software systems get better about allowing companies to customize them to their needs, there is no reason to continue using an invoicing or billing system that is not serving your company well. If you are dealing with numerous invoicing mistakes, delayed invoices, or even a lack of up-to-date information, it’s time to consider upgrading. 

Is Financial Automation Gaining Speed in Accounting?

Automation continues to gain speed in the accounting industry. Automation simplifies menial tasks and reduces the risk of manual error, making it a huge boon for accountants as far as accuracy and data integrity. 

While tech greatly improves much of an accountant’s job, with this shift comes fear and uncertainty about job security. Embracing changing technology and learning to finetune strategic and advisory skills situates you to continue to be a player in the accounting sphere even as the ground shifts.

Accounts receivable automation platform Invoiced recently published new research on adopting financial automation technology. The study was fielded in November and December 2019. The study surveyed 459 U.S. finance and accounting professionals. 

Three big takeaways emerged from the report:

The report found that clients are coming to expect CPAs will deliver strategic, consultative services: Clients see that automation offloads many of the menial tasks that have historically been entwined with accounting. With more automation, billable hours would (theoretically) be reduced, leading to an expectation for increased expertise in strategy and consulting (or a reduction in price).

The report suggests that increased pressure will be put on CPAs to be tech-savvy: Businesses are expecting systems to integrate and tightly synchronize, and for CPAs to be aware of the ins and outs of it in order to deliver results and insights to clients.

The report highlights that challenges and opportunities are linked for CPAs as tech grows in accounting: It’s easy to get wrapped up in the pressure of a changing job in a changing industry. Accountants are expected to learn more and be flexible as the industry shifts, but many opportunities are shrouded in that challenge. For starters, taking the time and commitment to developing your tech skills will set you apart. Clients will also find you increasingly indispensable if you’re able to provide tech expertise and strategic and advisory services. And, though it isn’t always the case, increased skills could lead to a fatter paycheck.

Flexi can help you automate your accounting

Flexi’s comprehensive financial management software simplifies and automates the entire accounting workflow process without compromising security. Flexi’s open architecture meets even the most stringent security requirements yet allows data to flow seamlessly with any system, whenever and wherever business needs dictate. Learn more about Flexi today.

Can a Faster and More Accurate Financial Close Improve Customer Service?

Today’s world is one built on instant gratification, and companies across all industries continue to work hard to provide fast, efficient services to their customers. Believe it or not, your company’s financial close time can have a significant impact on numerous parts of your business, including your relationships with your clients and customers. Below, you can learn more about the benefits of a speedier financial close. 

The Complexities of the Financial Close

Some people find the financial close process fascinating, but others see it as tedious and perhaps even daunting. After all, reviewing and reconciling accounts can be a time-consuming process, especially for companies without the right tools in place to expedite it. For the last 10 years or so, finance executives have agreed that a five-day close is best practice, but surveys show that 60% of companies take at least six days to close. In fact, despite the fact that the benchmark close time has shrunk in the last decade, most companies take longer to close the books now than they did a decade ago. 

Why Are Closes Taking Longer?

It seems backward that businesses are taking longer to close the books now than a decade ago. After all, technology has improved a great deal, and with every passing year, businesses gain access to newer and more powerful platforms designed to help them simplify their finances and accounting. Despite this, many companies still use outdated processes and methodologies, and some simply have not adopted the newest and best technologies. They are still relying on spreadsheets and manual close processes that are slow and outdated rather than embracing technologies that offer drastic improvements. 

Why a Faster Close is Better for Clients and Customers

An accurate financial close gives companies the opportunity to analyze their financials, and that analysis is what ultimately paves the way for decisions and the actions that follow. Regardless of a company’s industry, a fast and accurate close benefits not only the business but also clients and customers in a few important ways:

  • Better visibility: With a more accurate and faster close, companies gain insight and visibility into things that may be negatively affecting their relationships with their customers. In return, they can find solutions to bottlenecks and make improvements more quickly, too. 
  • Enhanced compliance: Compliance issues can negatively affect clients and customers, too. When the financial close is faster and more accurate, there is far less risk for compliance issues that can negatively affect a company’s reputation. 
  • Happier employees: A happier and more productive workforce that spends less time closing the books will have far more time to spend on value-added tasks. This can affect their relationships with clients and customers in a positive way. 
  • Fewer errors: Some research has suggested that as many as 88% of spreadsheets contain errors of some kind. Reducing errors by automating the close process is sure to improve companies’ relationships with their clients and customers, as well.  

Though the financial close is intended to help companies reconcile their books and ensure their financials are on track, it can also impact relationships with clients and customers in a few important ways. Fortunately, powerful financial management software makes it easier than ever to automate many aspects of the financial close. This saves a great deal of time – often days – without compromising the integrity of the data.