You are Not A Babysitter: The Age of Value-Added Finance Professionals

How do you conquer the age of FinTech or as Joe Woodard dubbed it: #theRiseoftheMachines ?

Let’s start by debunking this insidious rumor. The rise of automation will leave finance professionals as babysitters of software.

Can you think of a teacher, coach, professor, or boss that was a glorified babysitter? How much did you like them? How much did you value them?

Teachers that babysit are often how we discover the fact that we can learn and act on our own. Yet you still found yourself wishing you had a great teacher…

Why?

Great teachers are not babysitters. They facilitate learning through:

  • Providing alternative explanations
  • Assisting the problem-solving process
  • Through knowledge of their subject, guiding their students ahead

A great teacher adds value to you as a student by empowering and guiding you. Great financial professionals do the same thing for their clients.

No one likes a glorified babysitter in any advisory role. Finance professionals should never find themselves babysitting a client’s books or accounting software.

Automation and AI, like ProRata, are tools. Just like whiteboards or Promethean boards are tools. Just like a bad teacher, you can get away with being a glorified babysitter. No one is going to be a fan of that except maybe the unenthused. Your dream client certainly isn’t waiting for the opportunity to work with a glorified babysitter.

No one said it better than Joe:

“The Future [Finance] Professional: The best and brightest professionals will endure the longest – those who can perform tasks that cannot and ought not to be replaced by machines, and tasks we prefer to leave in the hands of human beings” #RiseOfTheMachines Joe Woodard

If you taught yourself finance, you are 100% capable of conquering the age of FinTech. You just have to introduce yourself to the new tools and workflow.

Let’s start by addressing that, at times, too vague term  “value added accounting/finance.” How is that measurable? What does that mean?

Finance professionals are experts when it comes to value. Anyone working in finance knows that value is subjective. Depending on how you approach numbers, value can be seen differently. Ultimately presenting the best ‘value’ involves knowing what your target audience/niche wants.

Yikes, no wonder they leave it so vague.

We need an answer that is better than “be a resource” or “add value.” But, there is no way that I could write all the blogs needed for every client’s needs. Let alone how to market to all those niches.

Good thing we have an expert here. You. You are an expert on your clients both current and potential.

Through this new blog series, we will give you the tools to be battle ready. We will discover and define value added finance. We will help you define what it would mean to be a resource for your ideal client/employer.

Coming January 26th: Defining your niche/client base.  

FinTech is not going away and neither are you. Register for our free newsletter today to get every blog in this series.

Use the hashtag #ConquerFinTech, mention us @ProRata on Twitter, or comment below.

 

NEW BLOG SERIES: How to Conquer the Age of FinTech: Finding Your Niche, Mastering Solutions, Marketing Your Skills, and Taking on the IoT and the Cloud Subscription Frontier

 

The ProRata team and I would like to welcome you to our newest blog series, “How to Conquer the Age of FinTech: Finding Your Niche, Mastering Solutions, Marketing Your Skills, and Taking on the IoT and the Cloud Subscription Frontier.”

No matter the type of financial professional: CFO, corporate controller, a bookkeeper, fractional/freelance/full-time, etc; you will benefit from a brief course through this blog on how to #ConquerFinTech .

In 8 weeks, you will be ready with this battle-tested advice:

Topics Being Covered:

  • Defining Value Added Finance and FinOps – No More Vague Advice Like “Be a Resource:” Titled:: You are Not A Babysitter: The Age of Value-Added Finance Professionals
  • The Art of Identifying and Studying Your Niche (Yes, CFO/controllers/staff accountants have niches too!)
  • How do I Master my Niche and Prevent Myself from Losing the Trust of my Client(s) Making a Bad Recommendation?
  • Why Make Use of the App Ecosystems and Cloud Products: How to Leverage Them to #ConquerFinTech?
  • What Skills Do I Need and How Do I Get Great at Them to #ConquerFinTech ?
  • How to Market Your Value: Part 1
  • How to Market Your Value: Part 2
  • Introduction to the Frontier of IoT and Cloud Subscription: What Accountants Need to Know

Want this series in your inbox every 2 weeks? Let us know you want it! (subscribe button with I want to #ConquerFinTech)

Next week: You are NOT a Babysitter: The Age of Value-Added Finance Professionals
Use the hashtag #ConquerFinTech, mention us @ProRata on Twitter, or comment below.

Don’t Feel Like a Turkey: Tips to Avoid These 4 Silly Mistakes

 

 

Don’t you hate that feeling?

 

You have worked all week and you are getting ready for the weekend. Exhausted, you head home. As you take a seat every part of you cringes: you made an error and it’s going to cost you.

 

It could cost you in all kinds of ways: time, money, credibility, consistency, peace of mind for the rest of the weekend, to name a few. The real question is, how can we avoid this feeling all together?

 

All together? We can’t. We’re human. But we can certainly lower the frequency by avoiding these 4 mistakes:

 

Mistake #1: Not Taking a Break Before The Final Edit Using These 3 Techniques

Read that first bit again. You are exhausted, and rightly so. It’s is the end of the week. Wrangling coworkers and massaging the numbers are not mental energy light task.  Take a BREAK!

1) two to ten minutes to walk around or stretch but you must be upright and on your feet

2) take a sip or two of a palpably cold beverage (try to avoid heavy eating as it will only exacerbate that tired feeling)

3) let your eyes focus on something from a considerably far distance (out the window, across the office, etc). By doing this you let your eye muscles readjust and relax. Not only can it help your ocular health, but it will help your eyes snag those last few errors in whatever you are working on.

 

Mistake #2: Performing Unnecessary Data Entry Leaving You Vulnerable to a Typing Error

We are typing quickly and one stroke wrong and it is a long headache later until we find the small slip. It’s in these instances we benefit from augmenting ourselves through an automated process.

An automated process is essentially creating your own virtual assistant that runs off and handles the tedious while you knock the important work out of the park.

 

Mistake #3: Working With the Wrong Keyboard or Desk Set Up

Have you ever sat at a desk and laid your hands on a keyboard and the setup felt all wrong?

Whether it be the keyboard you trained yourself to use, the desk height, or the product is plain poor and it is physically uncomfortable no matter how you contort it (I’m looking at you old, clunky keyboards of the early ‘00s), it isn’t working for you.

When it slows down your usual routine and hinders you from comfortably focusing on what needs to get done, you need to resolve it. As a fellow frugal individual I cringe at the idea of purchasing my own keyboard/seat/(desk is a little far) for work but if it will help you do your work mistake free, I would seriously consider it.

Point is, you need a good setting or errors will happen as your physical environment is not conducive to your strongest work.

 

Mistake #4: Did You Really Edit It or Did You Edit it the Way We All Cleaned Our Spaces as Kids?

Maybe you were a meticulous child and have no idea what I’m talking about but I guarantee you know a child like this. When asked to clean up they grab everything and pile it up quickly and shove it away.

The floor is technically clean and the stuff is technically put away, but come time to find anything it is near impossible. You don’t want to edit like that child “cleans” their room. It’s a technicality that in the end hurts you in the long term for some short term relief. Quick, in this case, is not quality.

But how do we keep ourselves from being that kid?

Have an adult keep you accountable 😉 Let your co-workers check you, have checks in place that require you to go through in a responsible, meticulous manner even when you feel like rushing.

Have any additional tips or mistakes to avoid? Comment below or hit us up on Twitter @ProRata !

How to Set Up Controls in Your Accounting Process

You may have seen the recent buzz word control.

 

With GAAP 2018 rules around the corner, even though they never state you must have controls in place, it has made it into the conversation (check out the previously blog post citing BDO).

 

Here’s why:

-Eliminates areas in the process where an error could have occurred

-Ensures compliance

-Ensures reliability and integrity of financial information

-Creates more time in the day to actually peel through your calculations for processes

that can not be automated and are an area where you provide the most value for your

clients

 

Among other ways internal controls have been touted (sources below).

 

So how do you set controls up in your accounting process? Can a spreadsheet be used as an internal control?

 

Controls in the modern accounting process as it relates to software ultimately boil down to automation of redundant tasks or as one client called it: “donkey work.” As seen in the sources, there are additional controls we could hit but they aren’t really new to the space. Let’s hit home automation first.

 

Why a spreadsheet can’t be an internal control: spreadsheets are known for being fraught with business risk (refer to 88% of Spreadsheets blog as well as sources). You could attempt to put controls in places but as noted in Theiia, even those controls are not seen as truly automated controls, free of error. That can really only be provided by an automation tool.

 

What does a good automation tool look like?

Your automation tools should seamlessly integrate with your current accounting software (on-premise, hosted, or cloud) and more often than not, work as both frontend and backend tool. A strong automation tool will allow for you to create the permissions, set it, and forget it. The QuickBooks Online app store has this for just about everything: automate your time tracking for payroll of hourly employees with TSheets or automate your revenue recognition and reporting with ProRata.

 

How to Set-Up Internal Controls for Automation Processes:

With a great internal control i.e. a great business tool, the how-to is simple:

  1. An email or a call giving permission for their dev team to set it up in your current accounting software
  2. Hop on, set the permissions/rules you want the software to follow
  3. Go back to focusing on the parts of your day that truly matter.

 

 

Internal Control Sources:

Washington University (http://f2.washington.edu/fm/fr/internal-controls)

AccountingWEB (http://www.accountingweb.com/community-voice/blogs/admin/six-components-of-good-internal-control-systems-for-smaller-entities)

Small Business Chronicle (http://smallbusiness.chron.com/seven-internal-control-procedures-accounting-76070.html)

Spreadsheet Sources:

https://iaonline.theiia.org/five-common-spreadsheet-risks-and-ways-to-control-them

http://www.prorata.com/blog/revenue-recognition/88-of-the-time-spreadsheets-are-wrong-and-its-not-your-fault-the-importance-of-revenue-recognition-software/

Daylight Savings: Bet You Thought This Article Would be About a Q4 Promotion

     Daylight savings is this weekend and don’t worry, this article is not some cheap word play on the word ‘savings.’

 

     Do we save money and time for our clients?

 

     Of course, that is why you get ProRata.

 

     Is that what this article is about?

 

     No. We respect our readers.

 

     Time to understand this whole 2018 GAAP Compliance. Its scaring the daylights out of people. We’re getting calls.

 

     Let’s fall back on the literature and shed some light on why automating revenue recognition or at the very least getting a CPA to make sure you are absolutely compliant.

 

     The GAAP rules for 2018 have shifted and here are the area you need to look up if it is relevant to your business:

              -As of December 15, 2018, everyone is to be following FASB regulated guidelines (not

               just public companies)

              -SaaS companies will likely be required to make an estimate of “variable consideration”

             including any contingent usage fees or royalties (if you have contingent fees above and

             beyond the usual SaaS business, make sure to go to the FASB website)

               -Keep an eye out for distinct performance obligations as accounting units within a

               customer contract have changed for specific types of obligations (if you have obligations

                above and beyond the usual SaaS business, make sure to go to the FASB website)

               -Anything not covered by the standards previously that one would normally be at the

               company’s disgression must now be reported to standard

     The last three points specifically affects SaaS companies, otherwise it is business as usual. Overall a push for internal controls (automation acts as an internal control, especially of needlessly error-prone processes such as revenue recognition spreadsheets) has been a hallmark of rhetoric surrounding the new guidelines. Additionally, keeping good data that is uniform for investors and auditors is emphasized in compliment to encouraging businesses to have an internal control for obvious reasons such as keeping your business from going under and keeping you out of jail.

 

    Hope this helps! Please comment with questions below or @ProRata on Twitter. Enjoy falling back November 6th!

 

Why Accountants are on Cloud Nine with Cloud Computing: Cloud Accounting and Automated Revenue Recognition

Do you ever wonder if people have over-hyped the benefits of cloud accounting solutions and the future of accounting?

 

Among the cited reasons for shifting to cloud accounting solutions are added functionality, mobile device access/ease of accessibility, co-working opportunities, scalability, sped up processing, quickly manipulated databases, automation features, and robust reporting.

 

Needless to say, many of these functions have pros and cons. Only you will know how these functions will impact on your business. The overall finding, however, is that cloud accounting solutions are by far the best for the modern business.

 

We agree.

 

A quote written by Andrew Marder: “The tectonic shift of all the data we generate is also undergoing automation. We talk about removing double-entry issues to cut down on errors, but let’s be honest – this is data that was sometimes being entered into five different places anyway. Manual entry is the bane of clean data and we’re basically eradicating it from the process.”

 

That last phrase “the bane of clean data” so aptly describes why a business should automate and why automation of accounting processes acts as a tool that enhances the abilities of the finance professional. Processes like revenue recognition, to which one client referred to as ‘donkey work,’ are plagues on clean data. Cloud accounting solutions allow for those added functionalities such as automated revenue recognition to integrate with your current accounting software so that clean data is a promise and not a goal.

 

Sources:

http://www.accountingweb.com/technology/trends/the-truth-behind-todays-biggest-accounting-trends?source=pe091616

http://www.smb-squared.com/5-reasons-to-try-quickbooks-online/

When Software Becomes a Platform: Learning From History

As I’ve said before, huge fan and supporter of Intuit’s launch of the app store. It will increase the functionality of QuickBooks and shift them from software to a platform. I was on the phone the other day and listened to a gentleman at length discuss his skepticism of the app store. He stated too much was going on with too many products. The app store in this case being yet another mistake. He cited the app store as proof that QuickBooks leadership is and was both scattered and ill-prepared to lead their business.

 

     While I sat in silence and listened, I found that based on history, I couldn’t disagree more. It was not the time or place to share that. Today, I would like to share my reasoning with you guys and would love to have a discussion.

 

    The Current Setting: Intuit professionals were rumored to be working on as many as 800 new features a year and still falling behind for their QuickBooks software both Online and Desktop. This rate of feature development by one development team and project team is not doable. It’s not sustainable. How do you keep up with the demand of functionality for an excellent software solution?

 

    The History: Once upon a time, a two smallish companies that go by the names of Salesforce and Adobe found themselves in a similar predicament as QuickBooks Online/Desktop. But the features were crucial. These companies could not succeed as merely software companies anymore. It was a disservice to their customers and an unrealistic expectation for their team, thus, their business models made a dramatic shift: Salesforce and Adobe were no longer software companies.

 

   They became platforms.

 

   As we now know, their app stores were indisputably successful in continuing to build the companies’ value to their consumers. As platforms, not only did they create jobs, create wealth, and create a trailblazing model for SaaS companies, but also, they were finally able to provide the functionality their consumers needed at a record rate.

 

   As Intuit QuickBooks Online and Desktop users become further and further disgruntled and distraught, looking for features Intuit developers could never hope to stay ahead of, It is safe to assume Intuit took a look to the history of other greats and like all great leaders, learned from that history. The QuickBooks Online app store was established and the app offering growing rapidly. Some customers, fractional CFOs/CPAs, and other financial professionals might be trying to hedge their bets on the success of the app store and their apps: look no further than Salesforce and Adobe for your answer.
   Welcome Intuit QuickBooks as a platform.

How-To Shift to Annual Based Subscriptions Without Driving Your Accounting Staff Up a Wall

The deferred revenue ‘problem:’ that issue that arises when you move away from monthly subscriptions, is now long gone thanks to automated revenue recognition solutions. With automated revenue recognition, the deferred revenue “problem” is similar to that annoying additional step to have sliced bread by actually cutting it up – 1928 we have sliced bread. In 2016, we have ProRata, an automated revenue recognition solution for QuickBooks Online users. ProRata is literally the best thing since sliced bread 😉

 

    With the deferred revenue “problem” solved, the question remains, in a time where “accounting firms are pushing for subscription revenue,” why not push for the annual subscription?

 

      It is key to note that in the same article citing the push for subscription revenue by accountants followed that statement by mentioning that this push leads them right into the cloud (where software exists to support such a model). They are doing more with less and saving time for clients. The article can be found below under “Quote Source.”

 

    MarketingExperiments by MEC Labs found that annual subscriptions even at a discounted rate of about 40% the monthly rate are sizably more profitable than their monthly counterpart. Tucker Dawson at Price Intelligently shares that a combo of both monthly and annual optimizes income through ensuring lower customer acquisition cost in a calendar year, boosts customer retention thus lower churn rate AND his findings were for businesses that have monthly customers as their bread and butter as far as pricing. It’s no secret to the business world that annual is gold but it is also important to remember when shifting to annual, offering both prices as mentioned by the sources above is an important option for those balking at the idea of commitment elsewise you might be spending too much on sales.

 

    Automating your revenue recognition will simplify for accountants what just makes sense for your business model.

 

Sources:

http://www.marketingexperiments.com/improving-website-conversion/subscription-revenue.html

http://www.priceintelligently.com/blog/bid/194370/Boosting-MRR-Annual-Vs-Monthly-Subscriptions-in-Your-SaaS-Pricing-Strategy

Quote Source:  (http://www.accountingweb.com/technology/trends/the-truth-behind-todays-biggest-accounting-trends?source=pe091616)

Don’t Get SaaSy with SaaS: 4 Reasons Why SaaS Additions to Quickbooks Online Should be Embraced

There are great misconceptions about trusting SaaS additions over keeping certain processes such as revenue recognition “in house.” Let’s debunk!

     In Jeffery Kaplan’s “SaaS: Friend or Foe,” the benefits of SaaS additions and SaaS software annihilate the downloadable, less dynamic software through their ease of use and ability to be isolated if problems ever arise. SaaS solutions have been reported as:

  1. Having far less end user support issues

     2. Pay-as-you-go pricing and subscription models hold the SaaS company regularly accountable for your experience and upgrades

     3. SaaS products are known for their efficiency and absence of cost overruns

        Bonus note: ProRata magnifies an efficient operation that adds value to your company 😉

     4. Improved collaboration amongst team members and organizations due to increased access to information and software

“In house” is essentially robbing yourself of the benefits that SaaS provides by not being “in house;” one of the most cited reasons being security. In today’s security conscious market, SaaS providers bring in these five benefits in addition to being intensely invested in the security of your data. Its mutualism! We take care of you as fiercely as we take care of us.

For the original article, click here: http://www.webtorials.com/main/resource/papers/BCR/paper125/06kaplan.pdf

QuickBooks Online App Recommendations and the Adaptive Unconscious: Artificial Intuition Could Soon Be Recommending ProRata as Your Revenue Recognition Solution

ProRata Dashboard

 

     Artificial Intuition.

 

     At first glance an oxymoron, artificial intuition will change the way you are introduced to solutions thanks to data analytics. Intuition is a word we often associate with anything but artificial: “You’ll make the best decision, trust your gut,” “I knew my child was up to no good – mother’s intuition,” “Your boss has killer instinct when it comes to negotiating deals.” It is a knowledge that we know people don’t consciously have so we associate it with primal and nature-specific words. Let’s dive into some grossly simplified popular psychology!

 

     The mind consists of an conscious mind (problem-solving mind/executive mind/logic) and an unconscious mind (habitual mind/autopilot/intuition). We often think of the unconscious as primitive and it is, yet it is so far from it. It is the best evaluator, decision maker, and influencer of conscious decisions, making use of event based learning. When people feel like they are on autopilot or practice something until it is “second nature” that is the part of the brain they are training/have trained. It is far greater at crunching the lessons of past experience than your conscious mind can ever hope to toggle with. This is why experience is so invaluable as it is the only tried and true way of training the unconscious mind and influencing the conscious mind into making great decisions on the fly. This has been popularly referred to in cognitive psychology as the adaptive unconscious. However, the unconscious mind is fallible. It can try to use unlike experiences to influence your problem solving and can be primed to make decisions that you might not be fully aware of or happy with once you follow through (sources below).

 

     In the world of tech where the lifetime of a product or solution is the shortest it has ever been, how could the unconscious mind ever be prepared with the intuition to make the best decisions?

 

     Data analytics.

 

     Data analytics has provided a powerful tool from which stores and companies can provide you with artificial intuition: personalized recommendations. Not only does it suggest solutions conveniently as you search, narrowing your options, but perhaps its most vital role is that it promotes apps that based on other users experience, similar companies, etc, that you will get a recommendation that will mirror a decision you’d make if those experiences had been your own.

 

     It has been recently advertised that soon QuickBooks Online (QBO) App Store will use personalized recommendations meaning ProRata could soon be a recommendation for you to automate your revenue recognition. We say go ahead and trust your (artificial) intuition – it’s looking pretty good!

 

Sources:

Martin, N. (2008). “Habit” Upper Saddle River, NJ: FTPress.

QBO(https://developer.intuit.com/hub/blog/2016/08/05/introducing-personalized-app-recommendations-quickbooks-online)

QBO Firm of the Future (http://firmofthefuture.com/apps)

David McRaney “You Are Not So Smart”

Jonah Lehar “How We Decide”

Artificial Intuition: (http://artificial-intuition.com/intuition.html)