TRY HELM FOR FREE
4 min read

3 Steps to Take Before Turning to Tech to get High Quality Data

Featured Image

 

The grand promise of the 21st century - TECH!

While Y2K may not have brought the world crashing down, the internet of things sure hasn’t solved all our problems (while creating a few of its own).

While we love tech here at Helm - especially accounting tech, you can’t compute your way out of having strong fundamentals. 

Tech is a powerful tool in helping you get clean data, but every home needs a sturdy foundation before you even think of adding an Amazon Alexa. 

Having strong fundamentals in how you process your data is key in getting clean data, and ultimately in creating accurate and useful forecasts for you and your clients. So how can you avoid building the next Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Before turning to tech you should: 

  • Standardize your bookkeeping procedures 
  • Separate transactional workflows from technical accounting workflows 
  • Own the bookkeeping process 

These 3 fundamentals are key to getting clean data that allows you to create accurate forecasts.

Rinse, Repeat - Shine

1. Standardize your bookkeeping procedures:

Bookkeeping is full of repetitive transactions that are primed for standardized procedures. By standardizing your bookkeeping procedures, you can make sure your client’s data is accurately and consistently coded. 

So how do you do this?

If you're directly involved in the bookkeeping process you likely already have a process in your head. Write this process down as a list or create a high level flow-chart diagram, and break it down into detailed sub steps. Document these steps in your bookkeeping functions from start to completion, so that everyone can complete the task with 100% confidence.

P.S. This is also a great opportunity to look at your overall process and identify areas that can be streamlined or modified. 

 Once established you’ll likely find 80% or more of client coding can flow through your standardized process with high assurance of quality.
This means the time you and client spend checking the data is greatly reduced, freeing you up to focus on the transactions that are ‘different’ and actually need your attention.

2. Separate transactional workflows from technical accounting workflows:

 

There are a lot of different routines for bookkeeping, accounting, and tax, all with different frequencies. 

Cash flow advisory typically ties in best with bookkeeping workflows. The best time for a cash flow forecast is right after the bank account is reconciled and up to date, as it greatly reduces the risk of double counting transactions (assuming your data is accurate and consistent). Which is great, until cash flow advice is needed on a more frequent basis. That's when problems arise - along with a few nasty headaches we’d rather like to avoid. 

So what if you want to, say do quarterly bookkeeping and financial statements for a client, but monthly cash flow forecasting? You could spend extra time on the forecast making sure it's accurate- but ya, no thanks we’ll take that raincheck. 

Or, you could consider separating the transactional workflows, and completing them monthly while leaving the technical accounting workflows to still be completed quarterly in our example. Then Tadaaa! your forecast can be done on a monthly basis, financial statements and bookkeeping can stay quarterly, and hey where’d that headache go? 

3. Owning the bookkeeping process

You were likely hired for your expertise and best practices, but of course sometimes we all make compromises to make our clients happy. No big deal, so long as it doesn’t impede your work. That’s why you should ‘OWN’ the bookkeeping process. No, that’s not a corporate-friendly way of saying ‘micro-manage’

What owning the bookkeeping process does mean is fully understanding your clients bookkeeping process and the steps to carry it out properly. This is particularly important with clients that have their own established in-house process. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions, after all your expertise is part of why you were hired!

Looking to the Future 

Before we go let’s make it clear - we love tech, but before you try and turn your PC into the U.S.S Enterprise to fix your data and forecasting woes remember these 3 fundamentals:

  • Standardize your bookkeeping procedures
  • Separate transactional workflows from technical accounting workflows 
  • Own the bookkeeping process 

Once you have solid fundamentals in place and you know you are getting accurate and consistent data then augment them with tech! 

Have questions? Reach out at: helpme@takethehelm.app or connect with us on LinkedIn!