Your accounting system can answer your Yesterday Questions with the push of a button. What if it could also answer your Today Questions and help you project answers to your Tomorrow Questions?
Transactional accounting processes answer Yesterday Questions. This is often the information you need for tax returns and information filings, and gives you a general understanding of financial performance trends:
- How much did we bill?
- What was our profit?
- Which customer or line of business has been most profitable?
- Where have we grown or stagnated?
- How much profit did we make on Project X?
- What were my GSA schedule sales last quarter?
- What were my sales by state last year?
Yesterday Questions should be easy to answer with a standard accounting system report, assuming the information has been collected in a consistent way. That’s the challenge! As you consider the setup of your accounting system, make a list of all your Yesterday Questions and think about how to collect the right information efficiently and accurately.
Today Questions are the things you need to know to manage people, projects and cashflow:
- Who owes us money, and whom do we owe money to?
- What did everyone work on last week?
- How many hours are left in the budget for Project Y?
- What’s our current labor utilization rate?
- What’s our funded backlog? (When do we run out of work?)
- Who is available to work on a new proposal or development initiative?
To answer your Today Questions, your accounting system needs to have up-to-the-minute information available for reporting immediately. Approve biweekly timesheets, transfer the information, process it and send out reports – that’s a lot of lag time. Consider using an integrated project portfolio management system like Unanet. Collect daily time and expenses by project and task, so project managers, business unit managers and owners can run real-time reports on budgets vs. actuals, costs, projected revenue and resource utilization.
Tomorrow Questions are the hardest to answer, the most complicated, and the most important to business growth.
- What’s in our sales pipeline?
- When should we plan to hire, and what skills do we need?
- If we land this opportunity, our direct staff will double and our overhead rate will drop. By how much? How should we price our submission?
- If we propose a team that works 100% from home, we can offer slightly lower salaries and won’t have to expand our office space. How low can we bid and still make a profit?
- If we have a low-overhead team on this project, and a high-overhead team on that one, should we look at the indirect costs separately, or keep them merged in a single indirect pool? When and why is it worth the effort to separate onsite and offsite overhead rates?
In most companies, the information needed to answer Tomorrow Questions lives in several systems plus dozens (or hundreds!) of spreadsheets across multiple file repositories. Budgeting tools are not connected to project planning tools are not connected to timekeeping and project accounting tools.
And therein lies the value of systems like Unanet: one system, one source, from pipeline to closeout. Build labor and ODC plans for each opportunity and run what-if budget scenarios. Plan projects with current and future staff to see who’s over- or under-utilized months into the future. Use solid data to estimate future effort. Visualize projected revenue and cost at the project, division and company-wide level.
You need answers to your Tomorrow Questions today. Let us introduce you to Unanet.