Enterprise accounting departments have far more complex responsibilities than they did two decades ago. Stricter compliance, changes in accounting standards, and even an evolving view of the role of the finance department within the enterprise, have led to substantially increased levels of responsibility for accountants, financial analysts and CFOs.
Now, however, the availability of a new generation of cloud-based tools for enterprise accounting, is going a long way to redress the balance. Thanks to these software platforms, as companies scale up, so too can their finance departments. Three of the best of the current crop are outlined below.
Connected Bookkeeping with Xero
Xero is an accounting tool that transforms the sometimes technical language of traditional accounting into easy-to-interpret graphs and charts, accessible language, and step-by-step tasks. The key information of the company’s financials are displayed on the tool’s dashboard feature, which can be customized according to personal preferences (see below).
This allows team members to obtain a useful overview of how the business is progressing over time.
One of the key strengths of Xero is its connectivity with other platforms, allowing Xero to link up with a host of other companies’ APIs. For example, Xero users can accept payments through Stripe, GoCardless and others, while data from external apps such as Sage’s payroll tool can be imported, so that all existing payroll information is integrated into the Xero system.
In total, Xero supports over 800 integrations, so there’s something here for every accounting need.
Xero compels users to be proactive, creating notifications, showing project progression, creating to-do lists, and more. In this regard, Xero is as much a management accounting tool as just an accounting tool. For non-accountants, it can provide an excellent bird’s overview of what’s going on in the financials of an enterprise; for their accountants, it has the potential to supercharge their monthly output.
Finally, Xero offers a customized solution to enterprises, whereby the company partners with some of the best-known names in accounting software and services (EisnerAmper, Aprio, Adams Brown, and more), and provide ongoing support with the solutions provided. Beyond the flagship self-service software product, for larger accounting teams, they also offer a fully managed service, which allows teams to customize the product according to the needs of the organization.
Smart Lease Accounting with Trullion
For private companies, 2021 will finally see the introduction of long-awaited changes to standards ASC 842 and IFRS 16 for lease accounting. These changes arguably represent the most significant changes to any accounting standard for the past two decades. Trullion is an AI-powered lease accounting tool that considerably eases the burden for CFOs, accountants and auditors as they adapt to the new changes.
Trullion uses a combination of optical character recognition (OCR) and machine learning to extract the relevant components of a contract from pdf and Excel-based lease contracts. It then imports these data and their logic into workflows and generates fully auditable journal entries and disclosures. Every piece of data generated by Trullion is linked back to its source, allowing users to immediately identify its origins.
In terms of time-saving, Trullion’s bulk upload feature is a game changer. Given that more complex lease contracts can take a few hours for an accountant to process, and that a big company could have hundreds of leases, Trullion can save unprecedented amounts of time for accountants working through the new changes to lease accounting. And for enterprise firms with up to three leases, Trullion is free, so including it in your technology stack is a no-brainer.
Dynamic FP&A with DataRails
DataRails is an FP&A (financial planning and analysis) tool that enables financial professionals to collect, report, and analyze their data. It connects to and pulls an enterprise’s data from third-party repositories into a single database, which then creates income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, allowing managers to track performance in real time, rather than waiting for end-of-month reports. As with Trullion, it provides a cell-level audit trail, showing the full history of each cell it generates.
Naturally, for teams with years of experience of working with – and indeed, depending on – Excel spreadsheets for their reports, the transition to next-generation software often involves a steep learning curve and plenty of onboarding friction, as old templates’ formulas need to be replicated in a new and unfamiliar environment. In this sense, DataRails’s solution provides a major relief, as it allows teams to continue to work with their old Excel files as their interface.
The more sophisticated functionalities, such as AI-driven trend projections, cloud integrations, dynamic data pulls and visualizations all operate on top of Excel.
DataRails also offers a CPM (corporate performance management) tool that allows users to drill down into every piece of data to acquire insights that were previously obscured by the sheer scale of data being generated on a monthly basis, even by SMEs.
As with Xero, DataRails uses a range of high-quality integrations (of which Xero’s API is one), to give the full picture of an enterprise’s financial situation. Even when your data is spread across a disparate group of apps and programs, chances are good that DataRails can offer a viable information pull, bringing all the data under one roof, cleaning and standardizing it. And the more data imported, the richer the insights that DataRails can provide.
Leveraging Technology for Better Accounting
The accounting tools covered in this article are three of the best on the market ,but they’re just three of many that are now at the disposal of enterprise accountants. Before long, accountants will look back and wonder how they ever confronted issues like lease accounting, FP&A, and cross-team collaboration, without the software now being used on a daily basis in finance teams.