Alternatives To QuickBooks & Spreadsheets Webinar

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Alternatives To QuickBooks & Spreadsheets WebinarAs companies grow, the increasing business complexity amplifies the risks associated with using spreadsheets and small company focused accounting systems increases. Errors and inefficiencies can have a meaningful impact on company efficiency and shareholder value. Continuing developments in cloud and related technologies have changed the economics of upgrading to, and unlocking the power of ERP and related financial applications that empower more efficient operations and more strategic decisions. This webinar offers an overview of the drivers of upgrading your systems to add capability and automation to critical operations at growing companies. Also on tap will be practical advice for changing the spreadsheet culture at your company and defining the potential value proposition of adopting Cloud or other more scalable applications which can raise the IQ of your data to drive better decisions.

This Alternatives To QuickBooks & Spreadsheets Webinar video is from the Proformative webinar "So Long to Spreadsheets & Quickbooks: A Fond Farewell" held on November 28, 2012. The webinar features a presentation from Tom Kelly, Managing Director, T-Edwards, Inc.

 

Alternatives To QuickBooks & Spreadsheets Webinar

 

. . . fond farewell to spreadsheets and QuickBooks. Full disclosure here, yes, I have moved away from QuickBooks, but I'm part of a self-help group about spreadsheets, so if any of you need any help in that regard, please follow up after this webinar. I'd be happy to add you to the group. I don't know if spreadsheets will ever go away. Suffice to say there are a lot of things that you probably should be doing, not on spreadsheets, but as we all be finance professionals, I don't know if we can ever truly get away from the spreadsheets.

The question, is this your organization? You've got plenty of information and it's all over the place. Right? It's in spreadsheets, QuickBooks, reports, emails, other databases, you name it. Nothing's integrated. We talk about consolidated reporting, and that's pretty much a manual process. Take's many hours, and it's very difficult to vouch for a high degree of accuracy when you're trying to pull all this information together.

When we think about this too, what I've experienced, and I'll talk from probably personal experience, so feel free to ask questions if your experiences differ, or if you've heard things differently. It's not to say that this is the only aspect of this, but having experienced it many times over, I think I can say it with some degree of certainty that this exists in many organizations out there.

You start with QuickBooks, you look at Excel, you want to add Analytics, you want to get more detailed information. The sales organization may add Act or Goldmind or Salesforce.com. Then you start growing a homegrown website. You want to catch information off of that. You've probably upgraded Quickbooks many times over, added more seeds over and over again. You can see it's kind of a never-ending loop, if you will, because this continues right as your business grows, it changes, new people come into the organization. This is just a smattering of some of the things you maybe use, and it could be several more.

Point being is, when you think about trying to manage this, us folks, being financial professionals, we want to make sure we've got clear, precise, accurate information. It's very, very difficult when you're spending probably over 80% of your time pulling the information together making sure that it at least tics and ties and puts [sounds like]. Then you can spend maybe 20% of your time doing, what I would consider to be, the value-added analysis that any organization, large or small, really needs.

There was a survey done by the IMA about a year ago. Some of the common frustrations that were mentioned, integration, obviously talking about that. Trying to integrate all this data, all this information, if you will. You can put it in a meaningful digestible chunk, if you will. Business intelligence. Right? We talked about being able to do that analysis.

The value-added analysis. Where are we?  How did we get here? Where do we need to go and how do we do that? Siloed systems. Another example is, depending upon the size of your company, each of the functions may have their own individual system. They may be using manufacturing, operations, sales, finance. You all come into the meeting and, as we would like to have everybody on one sheet of paper, most of that leadership team meeting is probably spent over arguing whose information is correct, and whose isn't.

The picture that came up there, for those of you who don't know that, that's not a picture of Ernie or me. It's a picture of Pareto. As we all know, the wonderful Pareto 80/20 scenario. If you look at this, about 80% of the response is really garnered around being able to get this information into one (inaudible 00:03:41) chunk of clear, concise, accurate detail, and being able to generate business intelligence out of that information, so that we can be as efficient and effective as we want to be on an individual basis and on a business basis from a holistic point of view.

The survey went on again to look at more things where the opportunities improve. To some degree, no surprise. Business intelligence, 32%. What was another interesting piece at 17% was the ease of use. In other words, when you do put some type of a business intelligent tool in place, or any new tool in place, how easy is it to use. In other words, how quick is the learning curve. What's the experience of the work force, etc?

Editor's Note: The Proformative library of recorded webinars contains videos on many different topics, including Emerging Market Strategies Webinar, Business Analytics Webinar, Business Intelligence Webinar, Corporate Financial Reporting Webinar and Renminbi Rebalancing Webinar.

Here, and Ernie had somewhat alluded to this in the introduction, but moving to the cloud, and taking advantage of the many options that are out there on the cloud today. I just want to kind of try to knock down some of the concerns. What companies have really said is the access to this data in 150 leading technology applications, if you actually go out there and look for certain applications, whether it's a manufacturing need, a sales need, an accounting need, an ERP need. The idea of having this information available anytime, anywhere, anyhow is pretty profound. You don't have to go in through a BTN anymore. You don't have to rely on the IT group other than needing to make sure you have the right type of hardware, or device, to access the information.

The other thing to think about are the data centers that safeguard this information, and also, really they're the ones spending the IT resources. A Tier 4 data center, to put this in perspective, these are people that focus 24/7, 365 days a year on making sure that you have ping, power and pipe. Meaning you can access this information, that there are no issues with it, that there are no problems within the data center itself, that the information hardware in the data center is safeguarded in many regards.

Even if there's a natural disaster, which is called redundancy. Maybe you've got more than one data center to the effect that, let's say there's a major earthquake or, God forbid, should we have a major hurricane hit the East Coast. Dramatic pause. If you have a data center somewhere else in the world, or in the country, you're going to be able to immediately switch over to the other data center, and not miss a beat.

Cost effective monthly payments versus your large capital expenditures. When you do look at the cloud, you do have the option to make payments in a monthly amount as opposed to on premise systems which, yes, you may be able to finance them, but for the most part, you're going to lay out a huge chunk of capital right up front.

Another option, remote work from any device. Think about this. If you have a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, a netbook, whatever it might be, you can be anywhere in the world, as long as you have a high-speed internet connection. In the countries not blocking certain things, like China, you can pretty much access your information wherever you are. It's incredible the ability to get access to your information.

As I mentioned the 24/7, 365. These folks are monitoring the data center. Not only that, but the applications that are running, they're monitoring the responsiveness which the industry calls uptime. Making sure that the application is available, and is not down, let's say, during a critical time in your organization.

Scalable infrastructure. It's interesting, in this regard, that if you go out and you buy a lot of heavy iron servers, etc., and you put them in a data center. Let's say your business contracts. Well, guess what. You still have that heavy iron. Now the equipment's not going to shrink. It's going to stay the same size. For instance, with a cloud application, you can increase or decrease your user needs depending upon your business.

Break this off for upgrade a venture. For those who have gone through upgrades, when you're going from one version to the other, something even as simple as even Outlook and email. It's amazing what that experience is like. In the case with the cloud, what these information providers do is you could turn your computer off on Friday night when you go home for the weekend, and you come in Monday morning, and you're going to have the latest and greatest version of the software up and running and available to you without any impact on your data, or how things are working from a connection standpoint. All of this is tested, worked through, so that the availability is there the very next day, or Monday, if you want to take the weekend off.

I talked a little bit about this, but redundancy, Fail-over protection, the ultimate disaster recovery. For those of you on the East Coast, particularly the New York area where I'm from, I can imagine what it must have been like to go through. You can leverage these applications, and if they have the redundancy such that there's not just one data center sitting in the Battery, New York. You're still going to be able to have access to that information, because there'll be ability to switch over to another data center in another state.

The integration of the front and back office processes. Being a CFO in the past, and doing what I do now, I can't stress this enough. Something as simple as, if finance is going to put a customer on credit hold, and that salesperson is actually going to be making a sales call to that customer, you can get an immediate alert on your mobile device, on your laptop, whatever it is, that lets that person know that this customer's been placed on credit hold. Guess what, they can open up the information and find out why. When they go in to that customer, they can talk to them logically, professionally and accurately about what's going on real-time.

Ultimately, I think, for most companies, focus your efforts on your core purpose of your business, not IT maintenance. In other words, are my servers up to date, do I have the latest and greatest connection software? That type of stuff, you're farming that out to these folks that are providing you the application. Essentially, what it really comes down to, is the service. Right? We want to make sure that service is optimum, but we don't want to have to worry about the fact that they have Oracle servers or Dell servers or whatever. We just want to make sure that we're getting our information, that the application is working, and we can run our business and focus on the things that matter.

Let's talk a little bit about beyond core financials. QuickBooks is really a financial tool. There's a lot more you can do with it, obviously. However, at the end of the day, it's really a chart of accounts, and a general ledger and you can manage your transactions in it.

End partial; Alternatives To QuickBooks & Spreadsheets Webinar

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