From Starship Enterprise to Planet Earth
Emerging accounting practices aren’t the exclusive domain of Enterprise. Budget-conscious SMEs using Sage 300 can benefit too!
Glossy accounting publications have a tendency to focus on enterprise-level operations with stratospheric budgets. That can often make them seem as relevant to the finance staff of a small-to-medium sized business as a sci-fi novel.
They do, however, provide insights into the way the big end of town is thinking, and challenge us to see how we can achieve many of the same benefits at a fraction of the cost.
A case in point is this article by Molly Boyle in Strategic Finance magazine, Finance and Accounting in the Virtual World. To paraphrase some of the points raised:
- The tools available to business teams have changed beyond recognition in the three decades since the Internet exploded into our lives.
- COVID-19 has also turbo-charged the development of collaboration and networking tools by accelerating our move towards distributed workforces and virtual offices.
- And yet, for many finance professionals, the foundational principles that drive their accounting processes have barely changed in a century or more.
- The article then champions a move to “modern accounting” methods, including automating repetitive tasks with solutions built around robotics, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence.
The last point is where we run the risk of drifting off into a Starship Enterprise parallel universe.
Boyle is from BlackLine, who describe themselves as “a leading provider of cloud software that automates and controls financial close and accounting processes”, so we see where she’s coming from. But let’s read on, while keeping our feet on solid ground.
What if we step back a bit, and think of how we could apply similar principles in a Sage 300 environment?
Less Reporting, more Analytics?
A recurring theme of Boyle’s article is a desire to “elevate accounting”, moving the role up the value chain by shifting the focus from producing data and reports to producing data-driven, actionable insights.
This requires having the right expertise and soft skills, but also increasing efficiency so finance staff have the opportunity to shine. In Boyle’s words:
Optimized processes will reduce risk, improve accuracy, and increase efficiency, benefiting the entire accounting and finance function.
Continuous Accounting is core to Boyle’s pitch. It was also featured in our January 2021 Build Back Better article. It has the potential to free us from the drudgery associated with the classic monthly, quarterly, and annual accounting cycles.
Dimensional Accounting, the topic of this month’s Orchid webinar and our associated recent article, could be seen as a different means to a similar end. Adding depth to our accounts while reducing their complexity makes it entirely consistent with Boyle’s mission to elevate the role of the finance team.
Prepare for Take-off
Let’s quickly remind you of just some of the Orchid products that can contribute to this mission, and help you boldly go where few SMEs have gone before.
- Streamline accounting processes with workflows, alerts & notifications.
- Add Python scripts for bespoke automation and integration.
- Store granular dimension data in Extender custom tables
- Customise Sage 300 screens, e.g. add Optional Fields to the grid for dimension tagging of transactions, with validation to enforce their correct use.
- Schedule day ends, postings, reports, and other recurring business processes to run automatically and unattended, increasing efficiency and reducing human error.
- Move to paperless AP payments, fully integrated into your Sage 300 processes.
- Speed up transaction cycles, cut costs, and reduce your reliance on office-based staff.
- Supports Continuous Accounting by automatically keeping loan accounts in balance in real-time, triggering additional transactions, and generating reciprocal documents when related entities trade.
- Affordable BI, supporting your mission to provide value-adding analysis.
- Integrated analysis, budgeting, and forecasting capability supports both Continuous and Dimensional Accounting principles.
- Maintain KPIs to support continuous improvement.
- Maintain budget & forecast data to support Continuous Accounting, plus dimension-level budgets to support Dimensional Accounting.
- Flatten your Optional Fields, turning them into columns to simplify reporting and analysis.