A fast, clean closing of the books is a point of pride for SaaS Controllers. The faster the close, the faster the FP&A package to the CFO and executive team. Every day saved is one day faster in making better decisions than your competition. These are critical workflows, and forward-thinking finance leaders have realized that manually closing the books and delayed reporting are relics compared to automated cloud-based accounting.
Here are a few of the primary drivers behind that paradigm shift:
- Having a System of Record is essential: Manually tracking down data for forecasts and reports is a massive waste of time and one of the biggest frustrations of the job for SaaS finance teams. Cloud-based accounting software centralizes all the data you need in a single dashboard, completely eliminating the tedious back-and-forth of email chains.
- The manual billing breaking point: Every company has a “breaking point” where manual billing becomes impractical and sometimes impossible to keep up with. As automation has become more well-known, departments are reaching that point more quickly, based on the number of invoices, billing options, or upsells. After all, if you know there’s a more efficient way to do something that you’re currently struggling with, you’d be crazy not to try it.
- Continuously closing the books is here: Thanks to advances in SaaS accounting automation, finance teams no longer have to close their books in a single (often grueling) session at the end of the month. Modern accounting software updates your books continuously, using machine learning, as each new transaction takes place.
It’s important to be honest with yourself if you feel that QuickBooks isn’t doing the job like it used to. Let’s take a closer look at automated SaaS accounting as a comparison point.
Telling your story with investor-grade reporting
Robust and accurate reporting is one of the distinguishing factors of top accounting teams. SaaS CFOs are responsible for ensuring that their colleagues, board members, and investors are aware of what’s happening at the company from a financial perspective.
Telling your company’s financial story with confidence and clarity is incredibly important in its own right. But let’s drill a bit further into that. Who specifically do you want to keep in the loop, and why?
- Your executive team members: If your team doesn’t know what’s going on in their department, how can they operate effectively? Sharing financial reports helps your team know what’s been working and what hasn’t and how their actions have contributed to the company’s success. That’s a valuable morale boost, but on a practical level, it gives your teammates the information they need to keep performing their roles effectively.
- Your board: During your board presentations, cloud-based accounting software will make things run significantly more smoothly. You’ll be able to explain your strategic decisions with conviction because you’ll have immediate access to all the supporting data, reports, and forecasts you need. With automation, you’ll never fret over another board meeting again.
- Your investors: There’s a reason investor-grade reporting is the gold standard for cloud accounting software. Companies that can’t reliably bring in large funding rounds from investors will have difficulty launching themselves to long-term success in the marketplace. Automated reporting will help you effectively telegraph your most investment-worthy KPIs to investors when it matters most.
What else can automated reporting do for your business?
Automated reporting for the 21st century
The increasing popularity of accounting automation means that lightning-fast and highly accurate reporting is now the industry standard and easily within reach of more and more companies. While this is an optimistic message overall, it also means that companies who don’t automate their reporting risk becoming obsolete frighteningly quickly.
Some of the most valuable benefits of giving yourself the gift of automation include the following:
- Role-based dashboards: Consolidated financial dashboards give every department leader–from you as the CFO to your Controller and others–all the financial data they need in one convenient screen. Emailing back and forth to compile reports is too costly in terms of time and possible errors to be even remotely practical.
- Data drill-down for pinpoint accuracy: Specificity is power, especially regarding financial reporting. Easily categorize and analyze transactions based on date, time, type, country, currency, and many other important identifiers.
- Eliminate manual errors: Manual reporting errors should seem inexcusable to you as a SaaS CFO. When a way is easily within reach to permanently rid your department of them, you’d be in the wrong not to consider it, right?
- Faster approvals: Financial approvals can put a real kink in the hose in large or even moderately-sized SaaS accounting departments. Automating your accounting department will enable you to set up automatic approval routing and architecture.
But financial reporting isn’t the only workflow that accounting departments are opting to automate with greater frequency.
Closing the books with automated accounting: The new standard
Monthly close. Those two words have probably brought more frustration to accounting departments over the years than any–or at least many–others.
Closing the books correctly and effectively is one of the central tasks of finance teams. As such, it’s also one of the most important to consider automating.
What are a few of the risks of relying on manual processes for your monthly close?
- The dreaded reopening: No company ever wants to reopen its books for an accounting error. And if you’re publicly traded, this can even carry financial penalties.
- Misaligned or misassigned tasks: Certain tasks in the month-end close need to be carried out by specific team members. Failing to plan for this can create workflow problems.
- Missed deadlines: As with reopening, no business wants to miss a close deadline. It looks unprofessional–because it is–and can cost you big time, depending on your situation.
Let us sweep away all these worries for you with two simple, beautiful words: continuous close. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Our accounting automation software for SaaS updates your books as each transaction occurs instead of waiting to do it all in one manual block of time.
Stay vigilant (and profitable) out there
SaaS accounting is in a constant state of evolution. If you’re not consciously striving to keep up with the newest advances and best practices, you’re at risk of losing significant market share to competitors who are.
Keep on the lookout for the tell-tale warning signs we’ve touched on in this post. If you’ve noticed them creeping into your day-to-day – it could be time to take the leap to an updated and streamlined accounting department.
If you’re still on the fence about upgrading, check out our useful e-book on the essential features you’re missing out on by using QuickBooks.
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