Reassessing the Organization: A Case Study

When key employees retire, organizations should review their processes, systems and people.

by Jennifer Witts and Sue Jasinski, CLA
Jennifer Witts and Sue Jasinski, CLA

For years the accounting community has predicted Baby Boomers—known for working long hours and spending entire careers with one company—would leave a huge gap in the business world when they retired. Well, the time has come and Baby Boomers are retiring or planning to retire in the near-future. So, who will replace them?

Recently, an organization was faced with their longtime CFO’s retirement. The CFO had done a fine job, but leadership really didn’t know their daily responsibilities. Now forced to find a new CFO, leadership was curious whether their accounting department was correctly set up to be efficient, enhance growth and promote employee satisfaction.

Business Opportunity Assessment 
The organization decided to perform a Business Opportunity Assessment (BOA). It began with a review of processes, systems and people. Specific activities done by the CFO were documented, along with obstacles that might hinder growth objectives. For a clear overview of a BOA’s effectiveness, let’s take a step-by-step look at this particular situation.

Processes: The BOA began by walking through the major accounting and finance processes with the current CFO. It recognized that the current processes were producing accurate records; however, the processes were manual and very time-intensive. It identified that a portion of this work was not complex and, therefore, did not require CFO-level skills. The manual nature of the processes caused the organization to move forward with a deeper assessment of its software systems.

Systems: Upon review, the BOA found that all accounting processes were performed outside of the organization’s accounting software. These included budgets, customer invoices, bank reconciliations, cash flow forecasts, time tracking and expense reimbursements—all tracked in spreadsheets and stored in various folders across an internal network. The CFO would manually enter accounting records into QuickBooks Desktop at the end of each month. Not only did this take additional time, the re-keying of data greatly increased the risk of error.

People: Along with improving processes and systems, the BOA determined that the hours necessary to complete the CFO’s functions did not justify a full-time person. The BOA recommended hiring an experienced, trusted, part-time CFO who understood the organization’s industry. While a person with these skillsets and qualities may exist, the organization was convinced the person would be difficult to find, especially in today’s job market.

The Solution
For their technology solution, the BOA recommended converting QuickBooks Desktop to the cloud-based QuickBooks Online (QBO), initially because of its integration capabilities with other platforms. Within a month of the conversion, a cloud-based accounting solution also became a necessity, as COVID-19 temporarily shuttered many of the organization’s physical locations.

To complement QBO, the BOA recommended an automated system that would allow the organization to capture all project data in one centralized and secure place. They could record project budgets, time tracked to projects and customer invoices, and automatically generate reports needed for revenue recognition. The system captured all project and financial data points in one place and seamlessly integrated with QBO as the general ledger.

The BOA recommended the organization utilize an outsourced accounting team with relevant industry experience. Under this model, staff accountants perform the staff work while a knowledgeable consulting controller or CFO with industry experience performs the more complex functions. Each team member works the hours required to perform the job, allowing project fees to become a true variable cost.

Looking to the Future
It is never easy to replace the people who have spent years supporting organizations as their CFOs. CLA knows the process of replacing a retiring CFO isn’t just a business assessment, it’s personal. Every situation is unique and requires a personal touch. The retiring CFO deserves respect for his or her years of dedication. But the assessment isn’t about the retiring CFO; it’s about looking to the future for new ways to help the organization grow and succeed. PM

Sue Jasinski provides outsourced CFO services and leads CLA’s central Illinois outsourcing team from its Peoria office. For more information, email susan.jasinski@CLAconnect.com or call (309) 495-8775.

The information contained herein is general in nature and is not intended, and should not be construed, as legal, accounting, investment, or tax advice or opinion provided by CliftonLarsonAllen LLP (CliftonLarsonAllen) to the reader. For more information, visit CLAconnect.com.

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