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. 

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. 

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.

Flexi-A Rising Star Among Financial Close Management Software Companies

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 on 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-premise as well as a cloud-based accounting solution for the banking, insurance, healthcare and service industries. The Flexi accounting solution features automation of accounting process and completion of audit trails which includes a visual display of the audit workflow process, real-time visibility, analysis of financial reports and more.

Flexi’s software was built to perform, saving 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.

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. 

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.

Big Data is Making a BIG Change in Accounting

Data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotic process automation–these are just some of the tech trends that will continue to perforate the accounting sphere in 2020, according to a recent report by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).

The report highlights that finance and accounting professionals are increasingly implementing big data, and will continue to do so in the future. Respondents of the report included IMA members, including 170 responses from CFOs and other management accountants. Many of the surveyed CFOs and management accountants are predicting big changes for their businesses in 2020.

According to the report, four key elements must be present for an organization to be data-driven: quality data, data-savvy people, state-of-the-art tools, and a supportive organizational culture.

Management accountants are leveraging data science and analytics to improve their data governance and analysis capabilities. These are necessary skills that are increasingly expected from accountants; staying ahead of the tech curve is a necessity to remain competitive in the job market.

The report predicts that the number of companies deploying big data is expected to double in the near future. It identifies some considerations to help companies and accountants implement big data initiatives, such as:

  • Starting simple while first implementing big data
  • Getting buy-in at the executive and departmental levels for implementation of more robust data and analytics
  • Building quality infrastructure to ensure data integrity

The IMA is developing a Data Analytics and Visualization Foundational Certificate for continuing tech education to help accountants stay competitive. Seeking out tools such as these is paramount for accounting job security. As data visualization becomes a necessary part of many accountants’ jobs, the management accountant is expected to serve as a bridge between data scientists and management. A full grasp of tech and analytics is increasingly necessary. 

Flexi can help you adapt quickly to market or business changes

With quick implementation that can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment, Flexi will not only simplify your accounting processes today, but also will have you ready to adapt quickly to market or business changes in your future. 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.

Are Accounting Rule Changes Hurting your Bottom Line?

Adapting to new accounting rules and regulatory changes have caused annual audit fees to continue to rise for U.S. companies. According to a survey by the Financial Education & Research Foundation, the average hourly fees public companies pay for external auditing services has climbed 31 percent over the past decade. Businesses tend to retain external auditors for assurance that their financial statements contain no misstatements. 

Respondents of the survey cited new accounting standards as the primary change in audit fees. Further, complying with new revenue recognition rules that sought to unify the ways in which companies accounted for revenue from sales and services led to the dramatic increase in fees.

Public and private companies, especially financial institutions, are adapting to the new Financial Accounting Standards Board rule that requires them to record expected future losses as soon as loans are issued. And, the “Critical Audit Matters” rule requires independent auditors to disclose the most challenging elements in reviewing companies’ financial statements.

As finance executives go head to head with new accounting complexities, audit fees are expected to continue to rise. In 2018, public companies paid an average of $2.3 million in annual audit fees, and in 2019, an estimated $2.54 million. Audit fees in 2020 are also expected to continue to rise; average audit fees have increased yearly since at least 2011.

Public companies have seen the brunt of these audit fee and audit work increases; private companies and nonprofits typically operate with fixed-fee arrangements. Seventy-three percent of public company respondents noted that the volume of annual audit work performed by external auditors changed in 2018, while only 27 percent of private company respondents and 22 percent of nonprofit respondents reported a change. The communications industry and depository-institution industry reported the biggest increases from the previous year in 2018, and insurance industry paid the most on average in audit fees in 2018, at $6.7 million, though this was 5.4 percent less than the previous year.

Some companies are reducing fees by switching to audit firms or negotiating with their existing firms. According to The Wall Street Journal, a Santa Clara, California-based software company cut its audit fees by more than half by switching to a smaller, local accounting firm (having previously been working with a Big Four firm).

Flexi provides financial management software trusted by world leading brands

Trusted by enterprises for 25+ years, Flexi is among the most experienced accounting software providers in both the cloud and on-premise markets. Organizations of all sizes, particularly those with complex accounting requirements such as multi-entity and intercompany accounting needs, are benefiting from Flexi’s value: rich features, flexible deployment, easily customized, low maintenance and highly rated support, all at an attractive total cost of ownership. Learn more about our financial management software.

Why Outsourcing your Accounting Might be a Good Idea

You may consider outsourcing your accounting in order to bring in additional expertise you don’t have access to internally, or to save money. Business owners and nonprofit organizations are especially good candidates for outsourced accounting.

Outsourcing your small business accounting

As a business owner, you know you’re edging closer to success when you no longer have the bandwidth to manage your own books. While many business owners know the basics of bookkeeping, in the growth stage the emphasis should be on management accounting. Financial and management reports are a necessity–both for the compliance side of things and when it comes to making business decisions.

Your small business may be ready to explore a new accounting solution if:

  • You’ve reached $1 million in revenue
  • You require more sophisticated financial reports
  • You employ 8-10 people
  • You want your technology to integrate
  • You’re entering an accelerated growth period for your business
  • You’re accepting outside investor capital

Many more small business owners are coming to appreciate and invest in outsourced accounting solutions, especially millennial business owners. Outsourcing is viewed as a competitive, attractive, and safe option that has positive effects on employees.

Outsourcing your nonprofit accounting

Nonprofit folks tend to be passionate about a charitable cause, not management accounting. Nonprofits operate a lot like for-profit businesses with the exception that profits are invested back into the programs. Qualified volunteers can get the job done, but when growth accelerates, the likelihood that they will continue in a volunteer position to manage increasingly complex accounting needs is significantly lessened. 

Your nonprofit organization might be ready to explore a new accounting solution if:

  • Revenues reach $500,000 (mandating audits in many states)
  • You’re acquiring grants and thus require foundation reporting
  • Programs are competing for limited funds and demonstrable ROI is needed
  • The Board of Directors requests more advanced financial reports

Fund accounting is usually beyond the means of a traditional bookkeeper and can stress financial operations. 

Why is Innovation in Accounting So Slow?

Accountants have been relying on Microsoft Excel since the 1980s, so you could say innovation in accounting is slow going. It turns out, there are several barriers to innovation that are specific to the accounting and financial services industry. What are they, and what can we do to squash them?

Jody Padar writes on AccountingToday that innovation isn’t typically in accounting’s nature. While accountants are good at mimicking innovation, it often doesn’t stick. Here are some of the top barriers that are keeping innovation in accounting slow. 

Organizational barriers. Accountants and accounting departments often trip up here. We get stuck in a routine that works–for a while–until it becomes a rut. Microsoft Excel is a great example of this. Its usefulness has long since expired, yet many of us continue to cling to it, maybe because of familiarity, or maybe “because we always have.”

Cultural barriers. Accountants by trade tend to be risk averse, but many accountants are (incorrectly) touting themselves as innovative. One of the main tenets of a successful accountant is to be able to analyze what has occurred in the past. Predicting the future? Less easy. Being an innovator requires taking risks, which often lead to missteps. A culture where you can make a mistake, pick yourself up, and try again is a necessity.

Regulatory barriers. Being mindful of regulatory measures and compliance means the opportunity to be creative and innovative can sometimes be non-existent. Much of an accountant’s job is spent understanding and working within the constraints of regulatory updates, so how can we find the time to innovate?

Technological barriers. Cloud software is a boon for the industry, yet many accountants are reluctant. Trading in clunky software for something sleek that automates and takes the guesswork out can feel like a threat, or it can feel too good to be true. Embracing advancing technology will keep you relevant in an industry that desperately needs to remain relevant. 

Market barriers. Following the market keeps you safe, not innovative. Again, risk comes into the equation here. Innovating is about advancing beyond the status quo. To be an innovative leader, you need to suss out what’s limping along and then revise it. 

What next?

Updating your software, improving your communication, enhancing your processes, and updating your pricing structure are all necessary to innovate. And, Padar suggests that a willingness to be agile is critical as well. By applying a goal of agility, you’re setting yourself up for consistent improvement, which keeps you relevant. It’s a chain reaction. 

Innovate with Flexi 

To successfully innovate, you first need to update your software. Flexi is an innovative cloud accounting solution that boasts 1,500 customers and 20,000+ users. Submit your information and get a demo of the Flexi suite today.