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Are Accountants ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution?

4th IR

In my experience accountants, like me, tend to be fairly set in their ways, using tried and trusted methods and systems to do their stuff. Don’t get me started on accountants’ use of spreadsheets – they pop up everywhere!

Some of you may have noticed that we’re in the middle of an industrial revolution, with digital technology driving ever-faster innovation and increasing expectations of customer service via mobile always on internet based connectivity. There’s some amazing things happening and the pace of change is not about to slow down. Companies need to embrace digital transformation or fade away.

So what’s this got to do with accountants?

Well sooner or later even the world of accountants will massively change. The lines between front and back office systems and processes will become blurred with integrated systems enabling automated processes. This in turn will enable the ability to analyse data with ever increasing levels of sophistication to obtain deeper understanding of what drives profitability and what trends are happening in the business that can help drive actions. One day we won’t have teams of people producing paper based documents that are then processed by other teams of people…….

As a FinancialForce and Salesforce consultant I know that all of this is possible now. My clients have integrated systems that, with the minimum of human intervention, issue daily Sales Invoices to customers and process them fully coded, automatically accrue related costs and display real time profitability on executive dashboards.  Need to introduce a new product or service? No problem, as the platform is flexible at pace – easy to change quickly. Got a question or an issue to investigate? All data is visible and easy to report on and is connected – so you can analyse those debits and credits by say customers in the north, or project, or project manager, or project team etc.

It doesn’t stop there either. Salesforce has recently embedded Artificial Intelligence into the platform and FinancialForce is exploring how best to use this to unlock new insights into financial performance.

So I challenge all accountants out there – how much do you know about what is possible now? How will you develop your systems, processes and way of thinking to take advantage of new technology?  Are you ready?

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Trailhead is great

Just passed my process Automation Superbadge on Salesforce Trailhead – up to 47 badges and 43,000 points – not far off being an Expeditioner.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about – check out Salesforce Trailhead. It’s an interactive way of learning how to do anything on Salesforce. It’s excellent training and preparation for the formal Salesforce certifications – of which there are 27 at the time of writing – and a really good way to explore the many Salesforce features. It’s also a great way of keeping up to date with new functionality as Salesforce relentlessly add new features three times a year.

Completely free plus there’s lots of support if you get stuck or need a bit of help.

So – get on the trail!

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The Only Way is Digital

Since I started Declarative Solutions Limited I have worked non stop helping clients install FinancialForce or help automate processes, create new reports and dashboards to aid transparency and generally make life better for the finance teams.

From my perspective more and more companies will understand that they have to go digital or they will loose out to competitors who do. If you decide to use Salesforce (an excellent choice) then integrating your front and back office by using FinancialForce is an obvious next step.

To get  the full benefit from FinancialForce I believe you need more than a standard Financialforce install, you need to step back and understand where real value can be achieved from your investment. This is likely to be from automating processes and improving visibility of data. These things are not provided by FinancialForce as standard.

This is where Declarative Solutions can help – unleash the potential of your investment.

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Certified Salesforce Platform App Builder

Just passed my Salesforce Platform App Builder certification – very happy. I continue to believe that Salesforce declarative functionality can deliver most requirements. Couple that with FinancialForce functionality and there’s all sorts of you can achieve – so much more than standard accounting software.

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London’s Calling

Last Friday (10 Feb 2017) I attended the London’s Calling Salesforce Community Event. It was a great way to meet like minded people, catch up on all things Salesforce, plus find out what Salesforce partners are up to on the App Exchange. I’m always on the lookout for partner products that will make life easier for finance teams. One App I saw might have the potential to automate attaching supplier invoices to the relevant FinancialForce Payable Invoice record – that would be awesome!

Salesforce continues to innovate at an amazing pace and one day I hope FinancialForce will further integrate their products with Wave Analytics. That would allow you to really get under the skin of your accounting transactions and allow you to analyse income and costs however you like for large volumes of data. Bring it on…

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FinancialForce Revenue Recognition helps automate month end

I’ve often wondered why accounting systems aren’t designed to help automate the month end process. We’ve all been there, managers screaming for month end results and you’re bogged down with complex accruals spreadsheets and reversing journals. You’re analysing a balance and all you can see is endless identical debits and credits for month end postings, masking what’s actually going on.

So wouldn’t it be great if you could tell your system when your income or cost needs to be recognised and let it figure out when to post to the profit and loss account. Well with FinancialForce Accounting and Revenue Recognition you can do just that. Simple to set up and as it’s all Salesforce based, easy to report on and modify to link to underlying records that drive income and costs. All system based with a proper audit trail that anyone (with appropriate access) can see. Get the system to tell you what makes up your deferred income balance – in real time.

And what’s more, as well as taking control of P&L postings, the system knows future postings, so it’s easy to report on e.g. future revenue.

No spreadsheets, no reconciliations, come on accountants, let your finance system do the boring stuff so you have more time for value added analysis.