Launched in 2000, Channel Zero is an independent Canadian media company that owns over-the-air channel CHCH-TV and specialty channels like Rewind and Silver Screen Classics. Its operations span marketing and advertising solutions, local news production, broadcast operations, real estate holdings, film sales and distribution, and a creative production arm that brings scripted and unscripted projects to life with innovative partnerships.
We recently caught up with Cathy Mewett, vice president of finance, and Natalie Clarke, accounting manager at Channel Zero, to understand how implementing Sage Intacct turned out to be a “game-changer” for their team. In our latest customer story, they walked us through how they navigated the complexities of remotely managing a multi-entity corporation during COVID-19.
Since deploying Sage Intacct, Channel Zero has benefited from the following results:
- Increased overall finance efficiency by 25%
- Improved AP efficiency by 50%
- Shifted time into forward-looking analysis
- Gained more predictable, transparent cash flow
- Sped audit cycle by a week
Smooth implementation leads to instant efficiency improvements
Like many companies, Channel Zero’s finance team started out using Intuit QuickBooks to manage their business. After a 2010 acquisition of CHCH-TV essentially doubled the company in size, they added on an accounting system called Adagio to better manage their more complex entities. However, they soon realized that it wasn’t possible or efficient to operate over 13 entities, all with different revenue streams, on two platforms.
“We analyzed each entity and its particular needs, taking a close look at payables, receipts, and documentation. A big requirement for us was to be able to easily and accurately allocate intercompany expenses across our entities — and all in the cloud,” explained Mewett.
After evaluating a range of options, such as Microsoft Dynamics GP and Oracle NetSuite, Sage Intacct rose to the top of the list for its seamless multi-entity management and its tight integration with Salesforce. Key to the implementation process was support provided by Sage Intacct consulting partner, The Answer Company. “They gave us incredible one-on-one time and focus, and presented us with a plan of attack.” Mewett noted.
She added, “Having the system’s sandbox environment was also a huge help, as it gave us a place where we could learn about and test features.” The Sage Intacct sandbox personalized and controlled environment helped them set up their chart of accounts, entity structure and integrations — and understand the resulting impact — before pushing everything live. By thoroughly learning and adopting Sage Intacct, the seven-person Channel Zero finance team was able to quickly see a 25% increase in overall efficiency across their department.
Electronic processes keep multi-entity financials on track amidst a pandemic
The timing of Channel Zero’s decision to shift to a modern, digitized financial system proved to be especially important — and ultimately was an impetus for even further transformation at the company. Less than a year later, the onset of COVID-19 accelerated the organization’s adoption of fully paperless, electronic processes.
As the company prepared for remote operations last year, Mewett and Clarke recall that Sage Intacct supported a smooth and painless transition. “When the pandemic hit, the fact that we were already running our systems on Sage Intacct made it incredibly easy to adapt, since our backup and supporting documentation was already stored in the cloud. It was amazing how we could all move home with our laptops and there was no paper that needed to come with us. It would have been extremely challenging had we not been on Sage Intacct,” noted Mewett.
Sage Intacct’s multi-entity capabilities, such as intercompany allocations, were particularly critical for handling the financial complexities of so many distinct lines of business. Time-sensitive processes like the month and year-end close, which were inefficient and rarely happened on a predictable schedule, are now on time and consistent across all entities. Monthly reconciliations, which used to take multiple days, are now fully automated.
Channel Zero also benefits from the increased transparency Sage Intacct provides into the financial health of each of its entities and more. The system’s flexible reporting dimensions allow the team to uncover valuable insights, such as sales by filmmaker and by project, travel and entertainment expenses by employee, as well as to track advertising sales by agencies and their individual clients.
“Previously, we were only ever able to look at our profit and loss statements and try to blend them together using painfully manual processes. Now, running projections, cash flow forecasting, and budgeting is so easy — with Sage Intacct, we just press a button and run a report, which can be quickly communicated to shareholders,” commented Mewett.
Expanding the value of cloud-based financials
While the Channel Zero finance team has seen substantial improvements across nearly all of their processes, they still have plans in the works to further explore Sage Intacct’s capabilities. The current top priority is the same one that helped them make the decision to go with Sage Intacct originally: its seamless integration with Salesforce.
“We’re in the final stages of integrating the two best-in-class systems. Once that’s sorted, we’ll have a bi-directional flow of information from accounting to sales, giving the finance team real-time access to the sales pipeline and our reps unprecedented visibility into the payment status for each client — a huge win,” explained Clarke.
“With the additional bandwidth that implementing Sage Intacct has given us, we’ve only just scratched the surface of what our team can accomplish,” Mewett elaborated. “We’re looking into how we can further automate our workflows, for example, by integrating an expense management app and connecting Sage Intacct with our bank to upload file transfer records for electronic payments. There’s so much potential, which is exciting.”
With Sage Intacct’s powerful functionality, Channel Zero is now empowered to not only access the data their teams need when they need it, but to use that data to inform their next steps and decisions.