Updates from PMIWDC's Finance Operational Area
A featured board article by Jonathan Reynolds, VP Finance
2016 has been an exciting and innovative year for Finance. We started the year by converting our old accounting system to a cloud solution. Our new accounting software ensures that we are current, secure, and operating efficiently. We also took this opportunity to integrate with a new cloud-based accounts payable tool, which gives us greater control over our payments to vendors and volunteers. In addition, we changed the front end of expense reporting from an antiquated Excel workbook, to a cloud form within our password protected SharePoint site. We have already seen our expense reimbursement timelines decrease from a month to less than a week with direct deposit, and a decrease in entry errors. Best of all, because of the integration with our accounting system, there is less time spent coding and transferring documents, resulting in time and cost savings for the chapter.
The new technology infrastructure in Finance has also influenced the way we do our reporting and budget review process. In prior years, there were heavy manual processes around the analysis and preparation of report data. This also resulted in long lead times to get reports to the board where they could be acted upon. Beginning this year, we rolled out a new budget versus actual report that is automatically produced by the accounting system and available up to 3 weeks earlier than our prior board report. The saved time can now be spent interpreting the chapter’s performance for trends and other items that need the board’s attention. Having this information sooner and in an easily digestible format allows the board’s response to be more immediate and precise.
In addition to the systems changes, we also have a new accounting partner, and have consolidated our audit and tax-preparation with a single provider, increasing our efficiency and cost-savings. The net of the aforementioned changes are three-fold:
- Finance is a more efficient and effective partner to the Chapter, its volunteers, and our vendors;
- Our processes are lean, forward-looking, and more automated; and
- Finance can focus its time on engaging in relationships with the board that help steer the forward vision of the Chapter
This third benefit is what excites me most about entering my second term as VP of Finance. The finance function will be less insular and analysis driven, and more people focused. We are already seeing the benefits of this as we had a very successful 2016 mid-year budget review process, and look to begin our 2017 budget planning. Ease of access and interpretation of financial data, and having an experienced team will allow us to continue to move Finance forward.