Want to comply with regulatory requirements, but you are not sure where to start? After operating your organization for a while, do you find yourself overwhelmed with piles of invoices and receipts? And you want to organize these invoices into something meaningful, but not sure how? Or perhaps you just paid a hefty amount of tax penalty, but you don't even understand why?
Want to organize your business processes efficiently, but you are not sure whom to ask?
Let us help you out with this blog.
Most of the time, your frustration stems from an unstable, inefficient, or overly complicated financial management system (FMS). FMS is a broad subject. Nonetheless, there is a portion of this system that, at the minimum, you must set up correctly to ensure you have an efficient flow of financial information. These are the fundamental processes in the system or what we call your Core FMS.
What is Core FMS? The Core FMS is a set of processes where financial information is captured and systematized into your needed financial reports. It serves to oversee and govern your financial resources.
Here is how we, at Numbers that Matter, present the Core FMS to our clients.
Your financial transactions go through as input of your Core FMS. Each box in the diagram represents a subset of the system performed by the different units of your organization.
Revenue Management, for instance, starts with your Sales Team getting orders from customers then goes to your Operations Team delivering these orders to your clients. The information retrieved from this (i.e. the number of Sales, the product sold, etc.) will be forwarded to the Finance Team. As part of their reporting function, the Finance Team classifies, consolidates; and finally, creates Accounts Receivable and Sales Reports. These reports are used for reporting taxes. They will also aid the management in conducting various analyses, and ultimately, in decision making.
The Expenses Management, on the other hand, includes the process when your employees request cash advances. These cash advances will then be liquidated through an expense report. The Finance Team should note the details from the expense report for tax reporting and management reporting purposes (e.g., profit or loss statement).
Now you see, everyone in the organization is part of the Core FMS, and the different functions in the organization are interconnected to Finance. If you take a holistic view of this interconnectedness, you can understand better where your issues are coming from, and from here, generate solutions targeting these root causes. You can even maximize the information that the Core FMS can mine and get more comprehensive financial reports for your decision-making. All these are possible as long as your Core FMS is working like a well-oiled machine.
What do you need to do?
Start getting organized by building or improving your Core FMS. Ensure that the following elements are present:
1. Documented Processes
2. Accountable People
3. Right Technology
Be clear on what your processes are and stick to doing each of them. Every organization has processes that need to be documented and shared with everyone. Once documented, it will be easier to implement these processes consistently. Remember to set target dates of completion for each of these processes. This way, you will ensure that the relevance of information is maintained.
The flow of documents should also be clear in your processes. You should be able to answer questions like—Where will the Sales Order come from; then where should it go next? Once products are delivered, what should be given to the customers? Where will the invoice go? etc.
One important thing to consider in setting up processes is Internal Controls. These are processes implemented to safeguard assets and ensure the integrity of records.
When processes, including Internal Controls, are efficiently established, it will also be easier to identify whom you need to perform every task.
Once you know what needs to be done, you need to assign who should perform them. Hold these people accountable for the processes you asked them to perform. Each process should have one accountable person to ensure that it gets done by hook or by crook. Remember, the Core FMS is an interconnected process – a process not completed in the system could lead to a series of delayed processes; and consequently, to irrelevant financial reports.
As you’ve seen in the earlier diagram, everyone in the organization is involved in the Core FMS. Make sure that your employees know about it. It is essential to make your people aware of their accountability in the Core FMS, whether they are from the Finance Team or not. Doing so will explicate each of your people's expectations and may eliminate some frustrations (i.e., Sales Team frustrated why the Finance Team keeps on following up their sales reports, Finance Team frustrated why the Operations Team submits their expense reports late, etc.). Again, you need to impose accountability, but first, be sure to clarify the components of each process and who should perform these processes.
For your people to perform their tasks efficiently, technology can at times be of aid. However, take note that it should not be just any other technology–it has to be the right technology.
Yes, it has to be right for it to work. Is there a right technology sold out there? There is none! Any accounting software, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, Human Resources/Payroll software, etc., works almost the same way. There are distinct features, but basically, they won’t guarantee efficiency in your system. What will make a technology right is if you use it well.
For technology to work, no matter what type of technology it is, it needs to be operated by people following documented processes. The right technology is something that can be used effectively by your people. It should be something that can support the processes that you currently have. Deviations can be allowed if, and only if, these deviations can lead to greater efficiency. It should make things more productive and not complicate your whole Core FMS. When you have to adjust most of your processes and spend hours and hours of your people’s time using the technology, something is definitely wrong.
That should be it.
Next time you feel uneasy about compliance and management reports due to disordered businesses processes, try looking at your Core FMS. You’ll probably find a “glitch” on any of the three elements above.
If you need help in setting up or improving your Core FMS, contact us.
Disclaimer: Numbers that Matter Inc. aims to curate topics that are simplified and easily digestible for micro, small, and medium enterprises by balancing our technical know-how as accounting professionals and the practical experiences of our team working on the ground with our clients. There might be technicalities intentionally omitted from our contents to preserve its simplicity. Also, these practical tips are purely the opinion of the team and are merely informal advice; thus, should not be taken as definitive rules. Should you have any specific questions, feel free to message the team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to discuss this with you further.