Every organisation, irrespective of their size, location and the market they operate in, is likely to be facing severe cash constraints in the current economic climate. Most organisations experience less than perfect remittance documentation, making the allocation of cash vital, if the finance function is to gain a clear picture of what is owed. Resolving this financial headache may seem straightforward, yet many credit control teams are paralysed by the sheer workload involved in dealing with remittances and making expedient and accurate cash allocations.
In parallel, the role of the Finance Director has evolved significantly in recent years. Gaining insight into the financial status of the organisation is just a fraction of what the modern FD wants to understand. Access to management information from across the business is essential, if the leadership team is to make confident business decisions.
As a result of market demand, many leading software companies who offer financial management solutions are forming partnerships with authors of complementary solutions, creating an end-to-end information management and reporting solution that can be used across an entire organisation. These partnerships offer a whole new world of additional benefits for businesses, by leveraging their existing software and hardware systems, delivering fast return on investment and providing an instant, real-time perspective on operational and financial effectiveness.
One such partnership has been formed between Rimilia and Intuitive Business Intelligence. Rimilia offers a comprehensive software suite, Alloc8, for the accounts receivable process. Alloc8 includes modules for cash allocation, cheque scanning, matching and remittance scanning. The core product, Alloc8, revolutionises cash allocation, by helping to quickly find the allocation for incoming payments and clearing them down to invoice level. Once this has been completed, it remembers the payment so the match is made instantly next time. As a result, upwards of 80% of cash received can be cleared down to invoice level automatically, without any user intervention, by 9am.
Intuitive Business Intelligence is the author of Intuitive Dashboards, a business intelligence (BI) dashboard tool that provides a consolidated, real-time view of current business performance against KPIs, presented in a visual “dashboard” format. The company is run by software veterans, Roger Stocker and Tony Bray, who identified a demand for a software tool which integrated with a wide range of existing systems already used by most organisations – payroll, accounts, HR, CRM and Sales systems – and presented the most relevant information needed by senior managers to make day-to-day decisions about their business. Intuitive Dashboards was developed to meet this demand and the software author has formed strategic partnerships with a number of market-leading software vendors, including Rimilia, IRIS NFP Solutions and Advanced Business Solutions, all of which offer best-of-breed solutions for business users.
The partnership between Rimilia and Intuitive Business Intelligence brings together the combined benefits of the Alloc8 product suite and Intuitive Dashboards to senior managers within and beyond the Finance function, by providing a reliable viewpoint of where the business is heading. In turn, this enables performance shortfalls to be avoided, trends and opportunities to be maximised and enhancing overall operational efficiencies.
Tony Bray, Managing Director, says, “Many finance managers are risk averse and prefer to stick to processes and solutions they know. Unfortunately, this often leads to a lot of time being spent producing lengthy reports which are usually out of date by the time they are generated. We also see a lot of finance staff performing analysis in Excel using the inefficient “CPA” process – Copy, Paste and Assemble. We developed Intuitive Dashboards to dramatically reduce the time, effort and costs associated with typical management reporting approaches. Ultimately, the most effective finance teams are those that are focused on using information, rather than on generating it.”
So how does the combined solution of automated cash allocation and dashboarding software benefit an organisation? Quite simply, integrating a dashboard with any finance system enables the user to instantly gain a real-time perspective on performance, so credit control staff can monitor and track cash allocation instantly. This allows issues to be quickly spotted and appropriate steps to be taken, so future bottlenecks are avoided. The visual nature of dashboards means that information is easy to understand and users can drill down to the root cause of issues with a few mouse clicks, so remedial steps can be taken quickly. Intuitive Dashboards proactively flags up variances to performance metrics, as well as highlights trends, allowing a more proactive approach to cashflow and credit control management.
More broadly, business intelligence dashboards empower the FD, Finance department and beyond in their quest to better serve the business. Dashboards help align corporate goals and strategy, improve efficiency, and provide the timely insights needed to help an organisation focus on looking forward, rather than backward.
The inherent customisability of BI dashboards also enables different end-users to view the information most meaningful to them in a variety of graphical formats, even if the source data is not stored within their own department’s systems. So, a Finance Director can view key financial data such as cashflow, creditors and debtors, but also sales against target and sales by product, total hours billed and resource utilisation.
The ability to instantly gain access to a “holistic” snapshot of organisational performance provides a demonstrable advantage over the reams of lengthy, unintelligible and quick to outdate reports typically produced for financial reporting requirements. In real-terms, there are numerous immediate benefits for the Finance team from the use of a BI dashboard.
• Increase the speed of budgeting process and the relevance of the budget.
• Prepare forecasts faster, with greater insight and accuracy.
• Ensure realistic results and improved performance when plans, budgets, and forecasts all work seamlessly with each other.
• Account for one-time or unusual events that can skew results and plans.
• Generate effective plans without statistical expertise.
• Reduce reliance on one-off spreadsheets for budgets, plans, and reports.
• Decrease the time spent on planning, budgeting, and forecasting cycles.
• Gain better insight into company performance and the factors that drive the business.
• Produce more reliable information to help drive better results.