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How to establish really solid reporting in a young business

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by JImbo_123, Jul 14, 2020.

  1. Socio South West

    Socio South West UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    987 254
    I've said this before on other threads - Whilst some recommend accounting packages that they are probably familiar with, each package has its strengths and weaknesses

    Work out what information you need to derive, and have a look at several packages to see if they can do it: I needed something that crunched sales and stock data rather than just £ s d (sorry... my age...) and thats how I came to Quickbooks about 20 years ago.
    Since then I have experienced Sage and Xero: while they deal with the financial stuff most excellently, they don't easily provide the sort of non financial analysis I look for.

    I have also recently worked with a small Indian company who developed a great little database in Zoho Creator for me which does all the management stuff brilliantly for me, and outputs a csv that is easily uploaded into an accounts package.
    Posted: Jul 18, 2020 By: Socio South West Member since: Mar 24, 2013
  2. Stas Lawicki

    Stas Lawicki UKBF Regular Free Member

    351 144
    A combination of what @Chris Ashdown and the @The Byre said. You've got sage already, if it's the new one you'll be able to do most of the stuff you are talking about.

    It's not difficult to get tot grips on the basics but it does take time to use the system (like any system) before you are clicking on the right thing straight away.

    Packages and software for the sake of software I would avoid. Getting the right human will help enormously.
    Posted: Sep 14, 2020 at 5:21 PM By: Stas Lawicki Member since: Nov 14, 2017
  3. John Toomey

    John Toomey UKBF Newcomer Full Member

    1 0
    Don't buy anything until you've started with a clear list of questions you want to answer, how frequently you want to answer them and what actions they will drive. Reporting dashboards are great but they're normally pretty ineffective if you don't know what they will be used for (the questions).

    Once you have a clear list of questions (the problem) you can then look at potential answers (the solution).

    If you don't have time to answer the questions using Excel and want to focus on your business make sure the solution you select is easy to use. Bad quality data = bad answers; lack of access to all data sources = biased answers.

    If you end up relying on someone in your office or paying for someone else that's fine. Both options are good but make sure you select one that works for your, your business and your ambitions.

    Good luck with your decision.
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 12:22 PM By: John Toomey Member since: Sep 7, 2020
  4. ffox

    ffox UKBF Regular Free Member

    1,354 253
    The platform you need is Office 365. You can use whatever accounts packages you want, you can use CRM software, you can have bespoke software written for you, but you will need to invest significant resources to get where you need to be.

    Office 365 will deliver a platform that will oil the wheels.

    Start by reading some of the posts on the blog at the foot of my signature, its all free, and may well give answers to some of your questions.

    You will certainly need to identify what data you need and prioritise the collection, generation and storage of that data by the most efficient means available. Its worth doing that before you start to look at software packages of any type.

    With reference to Excel. Anyone who can run a bookkeeping package can create a list in Excel, and similarly can create a list in O365 SharePoint. Listing stuff like sales or orders, materials or time represent the first steps in data collection and collation.

    Do keep us posted on how it goes.
    Posted: Sep 15, 2020 at 12:50 PM By: ffox Member since: Mar 11, 2004
  5. PugwashEQ

    PugwashEQ UKBF Newcomer Full Member

    17 4
    OP you've clearly opened a can of worms lol- lots of great advice on here, and some advice that personally would have killed my original business....

    You asked if there are people that consult on this type of thing, and of course their are, but very few that would be cost effective for an SME. you also mention hiring a financial controller....

    it sounds to me like you don't necessarily need the time of someone like an FC, but you need the know how? two thoughts sping to mind- employ and interim FD who has experience of selecting and rolling out an ERM system. Over a year you probably have the same cost as an FC but you have someone who has made the mistakes already. The other option is to find a NED with similar experience.

    The advice on this thread that makes a lot of sense that tallies with my experience is to work out what questions you want answering- what are you trying to solve? if its margin, then that needs a certain piece of software, if its process efficiency then that needs something else. Once you've worked out what questions need answering. The rule of thumb is that you can't report on it, unless you can measure and record it. So you may find you need a fully blown threey way matching ERP system, or you might want a stock control system (a stock control system is part of an ERP system....). You can then work out if you need a really flash, RFID/barcode scanning stock control system, or something simpler.

    If you want process control then that's something else!

    What you do want to avoid is overlap on the systems- so if you are using stock control, do ALL of the stock control/ordering/valuation in one piece of software- don't do stock control in one software and stock valuation in Xero for example. It eventually causes chaos as you lose sync and then you lose all the benefit- if you don't trust the accuracy of the reports then you start to make bad business decisions and you can waste literally WEEKS checking everything is correct.

    You don't say what sort of business you have- you mentioned "production", so presumably some sort of manufacturing rather than service business?
    Posted: Sep 16, 2020 at 8:48 AM By: PugwashEQ Member since: Sep 8, 2020
  6. ffox

    ffox UKBF Regular Free Member

    1,354 253
    I agree with this. The best plan is a needs analysis to determine what the business requirements are.

    From that you will see what data you need and also what you need to do with the data you generate and produce.
    It may well be that you will have to purchase off-the-shelf software to accommodate some of the processes, but these should be bolted onto the data flow system that you design for the business.

    There are many good accounting systems out there, but I've yet to see a finance system that effectively shares data for good collaboration across a business.
    Posted: Sep 16, 2020 at 9:52 AM By: ffox Member since: Mar 11, 2004
  7. johndon68

    johndon68 UKBF Big Shot Full Member - Verified Business

    3,437 630
    All very interesting but I notice that the OP hasn't been on the forum since 15 July, the day after he posted the question...
    Posted: Sep 16, 2020 at 9:56 AM By: johndon68 Member since: Nov 2, 2009
  8. Strontium Dog

    Strontium Dog UKBF Regular Free Member

    408 78
    "All very interesting but I notice that the OP hasn't been on the forum since 15 July, the day after he posted the question..."

    No - but lots of people have had fun posting mini essays about the way forwards.

    In my opinion there is no need for SMEs to resort to bespoke accounting software. Thre are feature rich packages on the market. The problem is getting someone with the right skills to prodice the info you need.

    There are many external accounting firms who can produce management info on a monthly basis, but they are often not that good in produsing timely aged debtor and creditor reports to make payments and receive debtors.

    I think what you probably need is a competent bookeeper to do the day to day stuff and an experienced FC or FD for 1 - 2 days per month to produce the mangement reporting info. This could be somone from your external accountants or it could be someone entirely different. I would budget somewhere between £3k - £7K per annum to get this part done correctly. You might find that this will reduce the cost of year end accounts a bit though. Alternatively the FD could train the bookeeper to do part of the month end routine to cut down on their time at month end.

    Using a cloud software like xero or QB online facilitates getting a part time FD as they can do it from their own home or office.
    Posted: Sep 16, 2020 at 5:19 PM By: Strontium Dog Member since: Dec 2, 2008