How this CFO digitally transformed Group Finance  

31st Aug 2021
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Alastair Manson, Group Finance Director of Tindle Newspaper Group, shares how he has modernised the Finance function at Tindle Newspaper Group.

In our recent ‘Group Accounting and Reporting’ webinar Alastair Manson, Group Finance Director of Tindle Newspaper Group talked about his experience of reshaping and modernising the finance function.

Here’s an overview of the key themes from the webinar.

CFOs need data – but working with an old-fashioned accounting system is a challenge

Alastair kicked-off the webinar with a brief overview of the reporting challenges he faced as Tindle Newspaper Group’s new Finance Director. The company has a fascinating history. In the aftermath of World War II, the entrepreneurial Ray Tindle bought a newspaper with his de-mob money and went on to build a large portfolio of companies.  

Ray built a hugely successful business based almost entirely on his instinct of what would and wouldn’t work,” explains Alastair. “But when he stepped back from the business, the new management team needed to be more data-driven.”

Alastair’s remit was to make the Group Finance function more efficient

Tindle had financial administrators in multiple locations using locally hosted Sage accountancy databases. As such, it was difficult to get reliable financial information in a timely fashion. What’s more, with multiple versions of the truth, the senior management team lacked confidence in the reported numbers.

Finding a solution: AccountsIQ bridges the gap between Sage and ERP

Alastair and the Tindle finance team had three main objectives. They needed to:

  1. Achieve efficiencies through automating manual accounting tasks
  2. Gain tighter control of their month-end with quick, accurate and reliable consolidated reporting
  3. Have one version of the truth to enable the management team to focus on analysis and decision making.

I looked at Sage Zero,” says Alastair. “But it didn’t have the functionality we needed to flow with our CRM system. I also looked at ERP solutions, but they came with a hefty price-tag, and we didn’t have the in-house skill set needed for the on-going management."

I’d experienced AccountsIQ at PwC (it’s PwC’s preferred software for the small business market). I’d always found that it sits well between Sage and ERP. It gives enhanced functionality at a good price and it’s quicker and easier to implement and manage than an ERP.”

Modernising the finance function has changed the whole mindset of the team

By implementing AccountsIQ, Alastair’s team has achieved full automation of the sales ledger, AP and bank reconciliation. There’s no more mailing out thousands of invoices or importing the data to Sage with all the cost and potential for human error that it involves.

Alastair estimates it used to take one person a day and a half each week to send out invoices. Now, they’re sent direct from the system, it’s taking less than two hours. And they’re sent every day, which improves cash flow.

Other big wins have included automatic document scanning and upload.

That’s given us greater efficiency and control,” explains Alastair. “Having a copy of the invoice attached to each transaction line is particularly useful; I can check back and see the actual document."

This project has changed the whole mindset in the team,” continues Alastair. “We can focus more on control and analysis, now we’re doing less manual stuff. It makes the job much more interesting and the whole team is adding value to the business.”

Consolidated reporting is putting Finance at the heart of the business

Putting finance at the heart of the business is one of Alastair’s mantras.

Now we can trust the numbers, we’re sharing information and acting as consultants within the business,” he says.

Tindle can now consolidate their Group month-end by entity, division, publication and department. Alastair went on to explain how it’s easy to slice and dice and customize reporting across all these dimensions – and to add new dimensions, such as property to monitor and analyse capital spending.

Tindle is using AccountsIQ’s 3-level GL structure and up to 6-dimensions BI layer to produce accurate month-end reporting for in-depth, granular analysis

Tindle Newspaper Group Structure

When asked to look back at the impact the project has had, Alastair concludes:

The biggest impact has been on the team and way we work together. We all have more interesting jobs, and we all have more time. I get to pursue my photography hobby now rather than digging through invoice listings late at night, for example. We’ve been through a lot of change, but we’ve come out in a better place.”

We look forward to working with Alastair and the Tindle team as they adopt more features within the AccountsIQ product as and when they have time.

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