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Management Accounts - Behind the cloud curve?

Is there adequate management accounts software available, that copes with all the modern day needs?

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Hello, 

I am currently conducting some market research of accountants and accounting firms, and welcome all opinions & thoughts on this one.

Im an accountant turned software developer, particularly with regard to management accounts reporting software.

For my time in the industry, there seems to be large levels of reliance on basic Excel systems or other inflexible reporting, that requires a reasonably high level of technical / software knowledge.

Although some of these systems have good reporting built in, i.e. Xero / QBO, this only works if a) the complete client base is on that one system, or b) there is more than one reporting system being used.

 

I am working on creating a cloud based management reporting solution that would initially work from manual csv import of data, but could eventually import directly from other systems, and extend far and wide, beyond monthly/ quarterly reporting.

Would this fulfil a need in the industry, or have I missed a trick on overlooking some software, or is this a niche issue for a few practises?

Look forward to your comments...

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14th Sep 2018 07:10

Excel is my oxygen, whether it runs off data that is manually imported by csv, comes from SQL queries, Jet reports, Power pivot, power BI etc

One thing I always remember is 'design your output first' and when it comes to management reporting, each of us has different needs, even more so when it comes to the variety of clients a medium sized practice has

Thanks (2)
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to WhichTyler
14th Sep 2018 10:57

Hello WhichTyler,
Thanks for responding.
This is really my point - Excel is many Accountants' oxygen, because it has huge versatility and can connect well with systems.
However, it can also be hard to maintain a consistent look/feel.
If the versatility was maintained, would a reporting software enable a more professional look?

Thanks (1)
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By Maslins
14th Sep 2018 08:53

Not something we use, but have you had a look at Spotlight Reporting? I think it fits what you're talking about.

Thanks (1)
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to Maslins
14th Sep 2018 11:00

Hello Maslins,
Thanks for responding.
Spotlight is very basic when it comes to breaking down the numbers. You can see an overall expenses figure, but not, for example, build calculations for breakeven / true net profit, where you need to pick and choose expense lines.

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By tom123
14th Sep 2018 09:10

I agree with WhichTyler

I need ODBC links into whatever data we are using.

I can't think of fixed software that would do what I want -

My 'bookkeeping' software, which is Sage 200, produces a P&L, Balance Sheet, Comparison to budgets, and departmental reports - but I tend to just use them as a control to check my exported reports total correctly.

Thanks (1)
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to tom123
14th Sep 2018 11:04

Hello tom123,
Thanks, I think this clarifies my assumption really - system reports aren't adequate, and OBDC links are key.
However, Excel still tends to be too flexible when producing a report and extra lines / pages can mess up templates often.
If the links could be preserved, and built into fixed reports, wouldnt this give a more professional feel?

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14th Sep 2018 10:29

There is glut of reporting options that will work on the cloud bookkeeping packages, Xero QBO etc.

I would say that end of the market is covered fully and entry now will be difficult to gain traction against Spotlight, Futrli and a host of others.

I suppose the market is to provide something to work with Excel as many people who use desktop products like Sage or similar and rely on external reporting will do so in Excel. Unless you have great Excel skills, the reports will look dull for non financial people when compared to Spotlight etc.

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to Glennzy
14th Sep 2018 11:09

Thanks Glenn,
Exactly what I was getting at!
Your right theres loads of software for the cloud systems, but nothing to cover it all.
Spotlight and futrli have sussed it for the advisory / nice graphs side, will links to cloud packages and manual import, but there's always still going to be a need for the actual management accounts - and there doesn't seem to be reports software that caters for it.

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By tom123
to Paul-Cooper
14th Sep 2018 11:22

The thing is, management accounts are for management - and tend to be laid out however they want.

For me, also, they are a live document, refreshing many times during the month.

We go with 'quick and dirty' rather than worrying about too much polish.

If a business is serious about needing management accounts data, it will tend to be fairly free form and produced by 'internal' staff.

I can refresh our reports in 30 seconds - pivot table formatting is fine for us.

With the best will in the world, reporting software will tend to produce the reports that accountants like - a P&L and balance sheet, but ignore most of the other forward looking stuff - such as sales order book, cash flow forecasts etc.

Thanks (1)
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to tom123
14th Sep 2018 12:28

Interesting points Tom,
I guess this is why Excel has worked for so long, everyone can format reports and live links how they like.
What I'm getting as I suppose, is would 'internal' staff, or accountants completing management accounts production, pay for a flexible reporting system that would make the said reports slicker and more professional.

Thanks (0)
By tom123
to Paul-Cooper
14th Sep 2018 13:25

I think you have your 'customer facing' mindset on..

For me, content will always trump layout and formatting.

Whilst I also aim for consistency over time, minor tweaks are likely every few months, with little comment boxes added etc.

In a previous life we had expensive BI tools, but they only refreshed over night, and we had little choice of layout.

I would not be in a rush to be constrained like that again.

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to tom123
14th Sep 2018 15:29

Tom, I am seeing you in whole new light with this "quick and dirty" approach you have adopted.

I take it this is similar to the Monday morning flash we used to produce when I worked in Leisure.

Thanks (1)
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20th Sep 2018 10:24

QuickBooks for the basic bookkeeping data followed by very simple excel spreadsheet for the management accounts output.

Thanks (1)
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By ossyref
20th Sep 2018 20:51

I’ve previously used Fathom HQ which is powerful and can create some good reports.

If you have a niche it can benchmark clients against each other too to give them an idea of how they are performing.

It currently works with Xero, QBO, MYOB and good old spreadsheet import.

Thanks (1)
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to ossyref
05th Oct 2018 05:56

Hello Ossyref,

Yes, on further investigation - whilst it's not totally flexible as i'd like, FathomHq is definitely the best option out there to pre-build templates.

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20th Sep 2018 21:32

Hi Paul, excel was definitely my oxygen for many years but now am starting to accept that well designed software can do a much better job (for most things - not all!).
Having said that, the hundreds of SME business owners I've worked with over the last few years generally see little value in traditional management accounts, no matter how slick they look. They are interested in where they are headed and what actions they need to take to ensure good future performance.
There is also a good understanding of how other data sources can drive business performance.
I would definitely consider incorporating common non-financial data sources, such as google analytics, and think about how you can use data on actual performance to help tell businesses where they are headed

Thanks (1)
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By Selaen
21st Sep 2018 10:21

So if you look at Adaptive, what can it not provide that you believe you could?

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