Archives for October 2014

Is Your Financial Accounting System Compliant?

Over the last 15 years, changes to legislation have altered the healthcare and financial sector’s IT requirements. Legislation like HIPAA and HITECH introduced the need for more secure management of patients’ electronic records and increased documentation for any practices that involve electronic patient records.  These changes impacted IT system requirements for the financial services industries in similar ways.

complianceStricter regulation of the financial services sector was enacted as the electronic transfer and storage of information permeated the industry and the wider world in the early 2000s. While retail customers have always had an expectation that businesses accepting credit cards would keep their data secure, corporate accounting departments and financial services companies never really had to tangle with data security IT issues. But economic crises and scandals over the past 15 years have pushed lawmakers to require better records management standards of financial services companies and have called for more transparent disclosure and reporting, and more oversight of the auditing process.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was passed in response to corporate scandals like Enron, WorldCom and Tyco.  SOX, as it is known familiarly, was meant to discourage auditing malfeasance and to make it more difficult for businesses to misrepresent their financial health to the public. Under SOX, companies must preserve five years’ worth of financial records and maintain a stable records management system.  They must also restrict access of financial data to designated employees or contractors.

The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, known as Dodd-Frank for its two sponsoring legislators, extended the reporting and disclosures requirements of formerly unregulated financial institutions. Like SOX, Dodd-Frank didn’t address financial services IT directly. However, it did require that these institutions satisfy the new reporting requirements around compensation, investments, sources of funding, etc. That meant that many IT system needed to be adjusted to make sure the way they create, store, and transfer company documents is in compliance.

Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank require that companies provide more access to regulators, more honest communication with the public, and increased financial transparency. Many small and medium sized financial services companies lack sufficient IT resources and knowledge to build and maintain an IT infrastructure with the right combination of security and openness.  Accountnet works with SMBs in the health and financial industries to ensure their financial accounting systems’ compliance with all government regulations.  Contact us for a free Needs Assessment – let us help you determine the right solution for your unique business needs.

Leveraging ERP with the Best Reporting Tools

The widespread adoption of ERP systems has enabled companies of all sizes to store more data with greater accuracy than ever before, but sometimes that introduces new problems — like not having easy ways to report on all that data.  Inferior reporting tools will limit an ERP’s usefulness, and most companies still rely on the same sort of operational reporting they’ve used for decades; reports that typically provide only a transactional level of detail, for example: open purchase orders by customer.

Newer methods and tools look at trends over time, consolidating organized views from multiple data sources to provide a more analytical approach to reporting.  This is known as Business Intelligence – the information you need to make better decisions about how to run the business, not just reporting on transactions.  One example of a BI report might be determining your top ten vendors based on purchase order dollars over the last five months.  Meaningful BI reports should be available to your managers and workers in real-time. Data should be presented in an easy-to-use format with the original system of record as its source.  Your business users should be able to easily access reports without requiring any special IT skills or having to learn how to use complicated reporting software.

If you’re planning an ERP implementation for your business, it’s important to consider your business users’ reporting needs as an integral part of your overall system requirements.  Don’t rely solely on a product demo to determine if the ERP software and reporting solution will work. If your reporting falls short, user adoption may be low and your ERP rollout may ultimately fail. After all, it’s the reports that your users need – timely and accurate data delivered to them when and where they need it.

Accountnet can help you determine your business’s unique requirements and find the right ERP and BI reporting solution for you.  We are a Gold Certified Partner for Microsoft Dynamics, and can help you determine whether Microsoft Dynamics GP or Microsoft Dynamics SL, paired with powerful BI reporting tools, might benefit your operation or whether a cloud ERP solution, like Acumatica, is a better fit. Contact us to take advantage of a free needs assessment to get started.