Data

Accounting Today - - Spotlight -

pro­fes­sion­als strengthen client re­la­tion­ships, en­hance their com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage and, ul­ti­mately, boost firm prof­itabil­ity.

One tool that Allen has found es­pe­cially ben­e­fi­cial in bet­ter serv­ing clients is bench­mark­ing. “Fathom does of­fer bench­mark­ing, and we’ve im­ple­mented that by bench­mark­ing a client’s com­pa­nies or di­vi­sions against one an­other (i.e., our fran­chise clients can com­pare one lo­ca­tion to an­other),” said Allen. “Over­all, the bench­mark­ing tool is very help­ful and would be es­pe­cially well-used if a larger firm were serv­ing a num­ber of fran­chise clients and wanted to pre­pare bench­mark­ing re­ports for them to see how they com­pare to one an­other.”

Allen said an­other way that firms can uti­lize Fathom’s bench­mark­ing tool is by load­ing all of their clients into Fathom, then bench­mark­ing them against one an­other and against cer­tain tar­gets. Allen said this helps a firm see which clients might be in need of ad­di­tional sup­port.

Joanne Ort, owner of Seat­tle-based Joanne Ort CPA, also pro­vides clients bench­mark­ing ser­vices and said that she finds it “in­valu­able” to be able to com­pare clients with in­dus­try stan­dards. To do this, Ort uses small-busi­ness plan­ning tool Live­plan, from Palo Alto Soft­ware.

“Live­plan pulls in­dus­try data from Sage­works. So, if I only have one restau­rant client, I can use Sage­works in­dus­try data,” Ort said.

Joanne Ort CPA is a full-ser­vice firm that uses such tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions as Live­plan, Fathom, Gusto, Quick­books On­line and Hub­doc to pro­vide clients out­sourced CFO ser­vices. Ort said this en­ables her to have a holis­tic view of her clients’ fi­nan­cial well-be­ing and pro­vide the nec­es­sary anal­y­sis.

“As a busi­ness owner, you need to know, if you’re sell­ing prod­uct, which prod­ucts you are mak­ing money on and which prod­ucts are you not mak­ing money on. If it’s a ser­vice, the same thing: Which ser­vices are you mak­ing money on and which ones are you not mak­ing money on?” said Ort. “I think that your profit mar­gin should be a min­i­mum of 15 per­cent and, if it’s not, we need to look at all of your num­bers and see what we can tweak. There are cer­tain key met­rics that I look at for all of my busi­nesses; one of them is profit and one of them is gross mar­gin. Those two, I think, are key num­bers. I can look at those num­bers with my clients and know if some­thing is wrong and fix it as quick as pos­si­ble.”

Added Ort, “Be­cause I work with a lot of cre­ative pro­fes­sion­als, if I hand them a profit and loss state­ment or a bal­ance sheet, I get the deer in the head­lights look. It’s just a bunch of num­bers on a piece of pa­per. With Fathom, I can give them vi­su­als. Es­pe­cially to a cre­ative per­son, pic­tures just make a lot more sense. It doesn’t scare them.”

Echo­ing the sen­ti­ment is Tom Gab­bert, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of In­di­anapo­lis-based mac­count­ing. The firm pro­vides out­sourced book­keep­ing and CFO ser­vices and lever­ages data anal­y­sis tools to help drive ef­fi­cien­cies and pro­vide clients greater busi­ness in­sights.

“When we sit down with a client at the end of ev­ery month when we are do­ing a fi­nan­cial review meet­ing, we are pre­sent­ing their in­for­ma­tion in a re­ally nice-look­ing pack­age that has dash­board wid­gets, graphs and charts, and vis­ually pleas­ing in­for­ma­tion. It’s also ac­cu­rate. It’s get­ting pulled off of the sys­tem in an au­to­mated way,” said Gab­bert. “A pack­age like we pro­duce to­day would have taken us three or four hours; now we can do it in un­der an hour. Most of our time that we are spend­ing on that is more adding cus­tom com­ments and in­sights and things we want our client to pay at­ten­tion to and, again, not mak­ing sure the num­bers are right, for­mat­ting it and do­ing things we would typ­i­cally do in Ex­cel. So, it’s been a huge game-changer for us.”

Fathom re­cently in­tro­duced a new re­port­ing tool that Gab­bert said he finds es­pe­cially ben­e­fi­cial. The ven­dor has also sim­pli­fied the in­ter­face and en­hanced the per­for­mance of its orig­i­nal anal­y­sis tools.

Mean­while, Host An­a­lyt­ics, a provider of cloud-based en­ter­prise per­for­mance man­age­ment so­lu­tions, is striv­ing to make fi­nance a more strate­gic and dy­namic part of ev­ery en­ter­prise.

In Au­gust, the ven­dor un­veiled a host of en­hance­ments, in­clud­ing more pow­er­ful fi­nan­cial mod­el­ing, a more cus­tom­iz­a­ble in­ter­face, faster and more gran­u­lar drill-through re­port­ing, and greater flex­i­bil­ity and ease of use in its plan­ning tem­plates. “We spend a lot of time lis­ten­ing to our cus­tomers and work­ing with their teams to un­der­stand what re­ally

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