BTerrell Group Blog

Sure, You Still Use Spreadsheets, But Are You Guilty of Creating..."SpreadWARE"?

Posted by Brian Terrell on Wed, Oct 09, 2019

Yes, we’ve all been using spreadsheets for years (some of us, for decades now…) for simple what-if scenarios, for profit/loss statements, for reconciling bank statements, even for complex risk-analyses.

spreadsheetWhile some industry pundits are extolling the virtues of a “spreadsheet-free” business environment (low-carbon imprint, BTW), the ubiquitous spreadsheet has nonetheless become the de facto standard for creating just about any “solution” when our own software applications seem to fall short of accommodating our immediate and insatiable need  for analysis and insight. In short, spreadsheets have become our “spreadware”.   

That’s why a recent post “The Spreadware Epidemic from Intacct Premier Partner, JMT Consulting, immediately peaked our interest.

In using the recently coined term “spreadware”, JMT highlights the morphing of spreadsheets to become our go-to tool for creating one-off custom software solutions. JMT highlights the danger that lies within.

Think about it: how many times have we used spreadsheets in an attempt to compensate for our accounting/finance systems lack of functionality or integration? 

Our president, Keith Karnes, also recently highlighted the same dilemma in his blog post, stating “creating workarounds (using spreadsheets to create spreadware) because your ERP application cannot do what you need is a prime reason to consider changing ERP and accounting/finance applications.”

With today’s apps, spreadware is old-school thinking in a modern day reality. With cloud-based financial and analysis applications and their open APIs, such as best-in-class applications like Adaptive Insights, there are infinitely better approaches than creating “spreadware.”    

It takes new thinking and new approaches to eliminate using spreadsheets to create spreadware. And, BTerrell Group has been successfully doing this for our clients – for years. Connect with us today.  You’ll be glad you did!

 

Intacct Customization Showcase

Posted by Joe Zhou on Wed, Oct 09, 2019

Our development team specializes in Intacct customizations and integrations since March 2013. During this time, we've implemented many Intacct integration projects for various clients. When I look back on these projects, I can group them into the following categories.

 

1.       Standalone Web Applications

A good example is our CodePartners’ Mass Update Tool and GL Upload Tool. Both tools are standalone ASP.NET MVC websites and hosted in Windows Azure. If the customer requires tighter integration, we can embed such web applications in a Dashboard so that they look like a part of Intacct.

2.       Standalone Windows Applications

These applications deploy on a Windows server that the customer owns. They can run on demand or on a regular basis if set up using Windows Scheduler.

3.       Intacct Platform Services with no External Resources

These applications leverage Intacct Platform Services including custom objects, smart events, triggers, AJAX Toolkit, etc., exclusively.  In other words, every piece of the integration runs within Intacct and doesn’t require anything external to run. Read more about  Simplifying Billable Expenses with Sage Intacct.

4.       Intacct Platform Services with an External Restful API

BTerrell's Workforce Go! is a perfect example for this category. It leverages all the power Intacct Platform Services provides and takes advantage of the benefit of Restful APIs for the pieces that are better handled outside of Intacct.

5.      Combining a Windows application, an external Restful API and Intacct Platform Services

Many folks didn’t think Intacct, a cloud based ERP system, could work with on-premise legacy systems.  With the help of a Restful API that bridges Intacct and the on-premise system, it is possible. Check out the blog post I wrote a couple of months ago on Intacct customizations for details about this type of integration.

    

    

Celebrating the Secret to Successful Partnerships

Posted by Brian Terrell on Thu, Sep 19, 2019

Recently, I had supper with the CFO of a $100+ million dollar manufacturing company and their Sage Channel Partner. Our dinner party represents a partnership of three companies working together since 1999 on various automations to tailor Sage 300 ERP to the exact needs of the manufacturer. The group clearly has been successful together, and all parties benefit greatly by it. The manufacturer wins the most, because of the cumulative enduring value of many properly maintained automations. 

Both the Channel Partner and BTerrell Group spend the proceeds of each engagement on operating expenses shortly after receipt. This demonstrates the difference between investment and expense, and both service providers feel like winners, as well.

This successful partnership is built upon the same foundation as all successful relationships: honesty. Nothing happens without an honest business conversation in which all parties openly discuss the issue needing resolution and that issue’s impact on the client.

 

For instance, many companies struggle with a back-office accounting system and a line of business application that do not share data. Reposting general ledger transactions produced by the line of business application requires time, accuracy, and unnecessary process. Quantifying the impact of these inefficiencies to the company defines the automation opportunity. Usually, a real opportunity exists only if the solution costs the same or is less than the one-year quantified impact of the problem.

 

If any party postures or withholds information, the project lessens its chance of success. For example, when a client company doesn’t entirely reveal the scope and impact of a problem, the business analysts in charge of scoping a solution cannot appropriately match effort with opportunity. The design focus devolves into an unnecessary search for shortcuts to squeeze the real effort inside a false target. This leaves no room for error. The client, bound by a forced and inaccurate minimization of the problem’s impact, may constantly push the envelope for additional value after the critical design process completes. Every new change order can meet with frustration, second-guessing, and finger pointing. The Channel Partner considers cutting his margin to keep the project going, and finds himself in the uncomfortable position of being both the client advocate and the preserver of a valued supplier relationship. The software developer perpetuates a business relationship built on false pretenses by pricing a solution unprofitably.

 

All parties can wreck a project by failing to be authentic! Or, all parties can avoid a train wreck by accurately quantifying the impact of a problem in the beginning, scoping a solution that solves that problem, and accurately pricing that scope. Without all parties committing to an honest business conversation, a project sets up so that there are no winners.

 

To avoid marginal or risky engagements, I like to ask, “What will it mean to your company to solve this problem?” When none of the parties engages in an active conversation to quantify financially the answer to this question, the priority should shift to the development of trust prior to tackling the automation problem. Additionally, the software developer must agree to provide a price delivering fair compensation for the required effort. In this example, I appreciate both the manufacturer and the Channel Partner for giving me 14 years of confidence in these best practices. If you would like to solve a business problem by tailoring Intacct or Sage 300 ERP/Sage CRM, contact me to help you both define the problem and quantify the solution. Once we do that, we’ll know quickly if an opportunity exists to solve the problem through technology.

Tags: VAR

We Add Value to the Services VARs Sell -- So VARs Can Sell More Valuable Services!

Posted by Brian Terrell on Thu, Sep 19, 2019

By Brian Terrell; September 19, 2019

Recently, I spoke to a large group of Intacct value-added resellers gathered at the Intacct Business Building Conference. I introduced several products that BTerrell and our CodePartners division developed to help Intacct client companies automate key business processes in HR, treasury, invoicing, and salesforce compensation. The conference was hugely successful, and I enjoyed my time with the great folks who were there.

I ended my presentation by sharing how we help mid-market accounting and finance VARs win more deals. We do this by adding the “last mile of automation” to help fill any gaps between the client’s functionality needs and the out-of-the-box offerings of Intacct and Sage 300 ERP. No software publisher can dot every single “i” and cross every single “t”; so, we fill those gaps when it makes sense and thereby help VARs win deals they might otherwise not make.

Our processes include weekly status updates to VAR customers on the progress of our engagements. And we often speak and work directly with VAR clients, and we treat them like our own.  Check out this note from one of our VAR clients noting the value we place on honoring our VAR customer's relationship with their clients:

 

 

 

Finally, here’s another VAR expressing just how grateful he is that we stuck in there on a very difficult project.

We get a lot of demanding assignments for which an easy solution doesn’t exist -- otherwise, someone would’ve already done it. I like to tell our group of business analysts, project managers and software coders that we are in the business of creation. If what we do did not need to be created from scratch, then it could probably be bought off the shelf from some other supplier. Note the last sentence in this note in which the VAR reminds me of the challenge of the engagement and our part in making his whole project successful:

 

 

Needless to say, I love my job!

All of these emails have arrived in my inbox in the last 60 days, all are from VARs, and I have 3 or 4 more I could share from that same time frame -- but, you get the point. At BTerrell Group,we help business partners make deals they’d otherwise miss by delivering the last mile of automation. 

 

Contact me using the button at the top of this page to see how we can help you, too!

Tags: VAR

Sage Intacct 2018 Release 4 Functionality Improvement Highlights

Posted by Brian Terrell on Thu, Dec 06, 2018

Recently, we invited our local Sage Intacct clients to lunch and a discussion on the latest version of Sage Intacct’s award-winning cloud financial Sage Intacct Trialmanagement software—Sage Intacct 2018 Release 4. Sage Intacct continues to deliver additional functionality at a consistent pace – so consistent, in fact, that keeping up with it can be challenging. So, we work together with Sage Intacct and our customers to ensure we talk up new functionality in an end-user friendly way. That way, new features that can make an immediate positive impact get the visibility they deserve.

The highlights of Sage Intacct 2018 Quarterly Release 4 include:

 

Sage Intacct Budgeting and Planning

To achieve business goals, companies need financial budgeting and planning that’s effective, collaborative, and strategic. Spreadsheets work great when a business is small and uncomplicated. But, as it grows, so do the needs for collaboration, security, and scenario planning. Unfortunately, until now most budgeting and planning solutions have been built to handle the needs of large companies. Budgeting and planning systems built for larger companies require big company budgets and resources to deploy, integrate, and maintain. This makes them unsuitable small to midsize organizations.

Sage Intacct Budgeting and Planning is a modern cloud solution built for small to midsize businesses. It’s powerful, yet easy to use and deploy. Here are some of the benefits:

 

  • Fast deployment – Use your chart of accounts, dimensions, and actuals from Sage Intacct to get up and running in a few days.

  • Collaboration across the organization – Easily work with department heads on a common version of the budget and securely share departmental budgets and details.

  • Seamless workflow with financials – Get actuals from your financials into your budgets and plans with just a few clicks.

 

Interactive Custom Report Writer

Operational reporting allows organizations to manage every day needs ranging from tactical execution to strategic decision making. For instance, one might need to pull a list of invoices for a customer or track employee time on projects. Release 4 introduces the new Interactive Custom Report Writer, a modern visual reporting tool, that delivers ease and speed of report creation, an enhanced user experience, and the power to address complex reporting needs.

  • With this new module, one can build basic reports quickly and easily with live report data, hierarchical field selection, drag and drop, and automated formatting of subtotals. Data is personalized to individual visibility and permissions.

  • The modern look and feel pleases users. The reports are easier to consume with aggregated and summarized information and conditional formatting to draw attention to important data. Interactivity enables users to drill, pivot, filter, sort, and expand for more precise answers to their business questions.

  • Users have new levels of power to address complex needs with advanced features such as calculated columns with calendar and math functions, conditional logic with case and if statements, rolling sums and aggregations, and pivot tables.

 

Dynamic Allocations

Allocating indirect revenue and expenditures, such as facilities or shared services, enables decision makers to get a more accurate understanding of the performance of departments, products, projects, or other key dimensions of a business. Sage Intacct has long had transactional allocations that allow one to spread payments, receivables, or general ledger transactions as they enter them. But, to spread the amounts after the transaction was already complete, one had to gather the amounts to be spread and create an often-lengthy journal entry. These calculations were often done in spreadsheets outside of Sage Intacct, making it challenging to go back and understand the initial amounts and the method used if the backup data wasn’t attached.

With Release 4, client companies can generate allocations based on cumulative activity. With the new Dynamic Allocations module, users set up the source pool, basis (allocation method), and the target one time. Then for every period after, a simple press of a button dynamically generates them. They’re consistently processed every time, right inside of Sage Intacct. And, a verification page provides snapshots of the before and after for transparency into how the allocations were processed and their impact. So, everyone saves time on close activities, reduces errors, and streamlines audits.

 

Inventory Landed Costs and Replenishment

Whether one works in wholesale distribution or maintains inventory to serve clients, knowing the value of that inventory is essential to understanding an organization’s financial health. With Landed Costs, Sage Intacct users can calculate value based on specific business requirements and capture added costs such as shipping or value adds so that companies can get to a true cost of goods.

Maintaining healthy inventory levels requires a balance between serving customers and avoiding tying up excessive capital. In Release 4, Sage Intacct manages inventory across multiple locations and warehouses while using Inventory Replenishment to automate reorder policies by inventory levels and seasonality.

 

Revenue Recognition for Nonprofits

Nonprofits with revenue streams that cross over year-end or advance payments need to be mindful of the ASU 2018-18 accounting standard changes pertaining to revenue recognition. For example:

  • Conditional grants – non-profit organizations need to plan how to track deferred vs. recognized revenue as conditions are met.

  • Events, tuition or dues that cross fiscal years – allows users to correctly state deferred vs recognized revenue at year end.

  • Some nonprofits are actively trying to change their policies on collecting revenue to avoid dealing with the new standard because it is viewed as cumbersome. For example, they structure the sale of memberships or tuition so that they are only for the current year. But that might not be optimal for operations. Other organizations plan to track everything in external spreadsheets and then convert them into large year-end journal entries. This decreases your efficiency and increases the risk of error. It may also result in added time and increased cost during the audit process.

Release 4 introduces Nonprofit Revenue Recognition. The new module automates revenue recognition for the different revenue streams received and centralizes tracking inside the accounting system. Users can automate revenue recognition inside of Sage Intacct without the need for external spreadsheets. Also, client companies can collect revenue up front across fiscal years without the fear of extra work. Coupled with Grant Tracking and Billing, it’s easy to track progress on conditions required for recognition of grants. Consistent treatment of revenues by source will reduce errors. And with everything documented in one place, reporting to management, the board, and auditors is dramatically simpler.

 

Summary

Sage Intacct’s 2018 Release 4 includes another blockbuster list of functionality improvements. My favorite is the Interactive Custom Report Writer followed closely by Sage Intacct Budgeting and Planning. However, the release packs in something for everybody. If you missed the most recent BTerrell Quarterly Release Luncheon on November 15th or just want to discuss this release further, please don’t hesitate to let us know at support.bterrell.com!