This article is an interview with Solver Controller Gina Louie about wrapping up end of year with reporting for Dynamics GP users.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with the person responsible for wrapping up Solver’s operational and financial year, Controller Gina Louie. With her hands-on experience, this interview is a must-read for best practices to wrap up end of year for any organization.
How is the end of year different for finance and accounting teams like yours when compared to end of month?
The end of the year usually involves additional review and adjusting entries. One of the big differences is that we usually close out the year end results to retained earnings, which is not something that we do on a monthly difference, so that’s a big difference. We also roll forward our balances, so that allows us to start the new year essentially at zero, so that we can start recording entries for our P&L from scratch. We do not do this on a monthly basis. We also review our Accounts Receivable more closely to determine if we need to write off any amounts and make any adjusting entries in that area. The year end also includes additional communication throughout the organization to provide the accounting/finance team with spending information so that we may make accruals for invoices that we may be aware of, but haven’t received yet, or to urge employees to get their current year travel expenses into the system as soon as possible, so that’s another area that year end usually differs.
Larger companies produce an Annual Report for key stakeholders. Does Solver do anything like that – and what does that require in the context of reporting?
2016 was a year in which Solver developed its first formal reporting and financial review package, so, as a result, Solver does not currently have an annual report in the conventional sense of the word, but that’s not to say that we’re not going to have one in the near future. Obviously, Solver will be growing, and as a result, there’s going to be more stakeholders involved, and most likely, we will have an annual report in the conventional sense of the word. Right now, our key stakeholders pretty much consist of our executive team, so we do hold monthly executive meetings in which we have a reporting package. In those meetings, the executives are aware of the financial and operational activities of the organization, and that serves as our monthly reporting, but we will eventually get to an annual report.
So, what are you doing to reconcile the year?
To reconcile the year, we make sure that our General Ledger in Dynamics GP ties back to the various sub-modules within our accounting system. For example, with our Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable modules, we typically run reports that capture all the transactions that take place within those sub-modules, and then we make sure that they tie back to our General Ledger. If there are any differences, those are researched and reconciled. In some instances, adjusting entries need to be made. That goes the same for Payroll. Right now, we have a third party that provides our Payroll services, so we make sure that the reports provided by them at year end tie to the amounts that have been recorded in our GL. Usually, we also look at various other accounts like our bonuses, commissions, and tax general accounts, and we make sure that they have the balances that we expect them to have on an annual basis. Then, we make sure that those accounts are accrued properly. We also make sure that our 1099s are in process, so that they can be sent out for the current tax year – and that we’re in compliance with tax regulations overall.
What is a management package and what would it include – do you put one together?
A management package is essentially a reporting package that consists of various financial and operational reports that are distributed to various managers and executives within an organization that tells a story of how an organization is doing. Here at Solver, we do have one that is prepared on a monthly basis, and we have regular monthly meetings to review it. Typically, within those monthly meetings, it consists of your standard balance sheet, P&L, and cash flow statements, but we also have a KPI summary that allows us to zoom in on specific areas that seem to be a little bit out of the ordinary, which allows me, as well as the management team, to review what might be causing those unforeseen or nonstandard activities, so that’s what comprises the Solver management package. I can imagine that, for most other organizations, it is very similar. They probably also have the standard balance sheet, P&L, and cash flow statements, as well as preparing reports that allow the management team to review and make operational decisions on how the company is doing.
How do you rely on modern Business Intelligence / Corporate Performance Management to help you close the year?
Right now, I find that Business Intelligence is very important for Solver and other organizations because, first of all, it allows us to add comments to our reporting packages, so when certain questions come up, they don’t need to be rehashed with each meeting that occurs. All of the information is there, and when a person has questions about it, it can be easily accessed and constantly repeated with each meeting. With Solver specifically, we also use reports, such as our Posted and Unposted invoice report, which allows us to see what revenue remains outstanding, so we can have our Sales team look into it and help grab additional revenue if we need to. That’s very helpful for us, and that’s specific to Solver. We also utilize a lot of variance reports at year end to help us identify how we’ve done over the current year, but also identify areas where we can make improvements for the next year. This includes areas such as revenue, cost of Sales, and our operating expenses. In addition, business intelligence allows us to see results in as close to real time as possible, allowing finance managers and executives to run their own reports to gauge or get an idea of where the organization will end up without having to wait until the full year end close is final. This allows them to ask questions or perform some of their own analysis if needed. Without business intelligence, I don’t believe I’d be able to achieve more robust, quick, and accurate reporting and analysis of our year-end results, so that’s primarily how I rely on BI to close out the year.