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Team Welter

Going Faster Isn’t the Answer. How Nonprofit Leaders Improve Decision Making.

By | Abila, Accounting, Budget, Data, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

The phone is ringing off the hook and you have 3,000 emails waiting for an answer. Meetings are booked back-to-back and your desk looks like someone dumped a file cabinet on it. If that sounds familiar, it’s time to take a deep breath and rethink how you’re handling your day.

We each get 24 hours in a day, and some of that time must be spent on things like sleeping, eating, and personal needs…but many of us feel that if we can cram more into our workdays, we’re improving our productivity. We take classes on productivity, buy fancy journals or add apps for time management, and wonder what we’re doing wrong when we get buried under an avalanche of work.

Where we go wrong is easy to spot. We think that by going faster and working harder, we’ll eventually catch up. We try to multi-task, cram more tasks into each hour, and find new ways of working while commuting, showering, or sleeping (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but how many of us would find ways to work if we could while we sleep?).

Instead of working harder and doing more, noted professor Harry Kraemer of the Kellogg School suggests a radical new approach to managing the deluge of tasks facing most professionals. Rest, reflect, and reset is the mantra of the truly successful person.

Why Doing More Isn’t Better

The problem with always trying to do more is that you never have time to do what will truly make an impact.

Authentic and effective leadership requires thoughtful planning. Leaders may have natural talent and abilities, but they must put those talents into action after considering the facts around them. Without the time to reflect, the action may be ineffective.

Self Reflection Leads to Better Decisions

Leaders know that they have two main tasks: to prioritize what is important and to find the resources needed to get the important tasks completed. But you can’t prioritize if you don’t take the time for self reflection.

Self reflection is more than thinking about what you’ve done during the day and what you’d like to accomplish tomorrow. It includes thinking about what you need to do differently.

If you’re so busy you don’t have time to breathe, let alone think, you won’t be able to think outside of your current situation. You’ll continue to try solutions that haven’t worked but are comfortable and familiar. And when it comes to problem-solving, comfortable and familiar are not a leader’s friends.

Systematized Self Reflection for Leaders

To make self reflection a reality instead of a wish, it’s important to systematize it. By setting up a system for reflection, observation, and action, you incorporate self reflection into your day.

The following steps may make it easier to incorporate self-reflection in your leadership skills.

  1. Set aside 15 minutes for writing out your reflection.
  2. Write down your thoughts about the day. Include questions, problems, and tasks you need to tackle next.
  3. Keep a running list of items to follow up on as well as the second list of items to explore.
  4. Consider both big-picture thoughts as well as the minutia of the day.
  5. Make self reflection a daily habit.

Self reflection builds strong leaders, teams, and companies. It’s a simple task that only takes 15 minutes a day to complete. Instead of constantly speeding up and trying to do more in a day, taking a brief break to reflect, refashion, and recommit to our goals can help build a better company and create stronger leaders.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

CPA Continuing Education – Ideas and Tips for Professional Development

By | Abila, Accounting, Audit, CPA, Grant Management, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

Passing the CPA exam is only the first step in a long series of challenges for CPAs. One ongoing challenge is meeting the required 40 hours annually of professional development.

Large, public accounting firms and big corporations may arrange to send their CPAs for annual professional development workshops and classes to help you meet the 40-hour requirement. CPAs who own their own businesses or who work for smaller companies don’t have that luxury.

It can be difficult to take time away from your own accounting practice to take classes that satisfy your continuing education requirements. Let’s face it; if you can take a week off, you want to go to the beach or the mountains, not to a stuffy meeting room. It can also be expensive to pay for airfare, hotel, and workshop fees.

There are alternatives to the typical round of workshops and conferences offering professional development hours for CPAs. On-demand learning is the latest method of distance learning that offers flexibility with the quality for certification credits.

On-Demand Learning for CPAs

On-demand learning for CPAs consists of online courses, workshops, and seminars. Those that receive CPA credit hours count towards your annual 40-hour certification requirement.

You can find on-demand learning from many providers:

  • Companies offering workshops in conjunction with products or services
  • Consulting firms offering on-demand learning on a variety of accounting topics
  • Professional organizations and groups
  • Local colleges and universities
  • Online learning organizations and companies offering a variety of classes.

In all cases, check to make sure that the workshop you are interested in attending qualifies for CPA certification requirements.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Learning Opportunities

There are several factors to consider when assessing on-demand learning opportunities. These include:

  • Quality: You’re going to spend 40 hours each year participating in workshops and classes. Make sure they are of the highest quality and relevant to your needs. Look for courses that address relevant topics. Instructors should be fellow CPAs or otherwise highly qualified to teach the subject matter. It’s also helpful if instructors are currently working as CPAs. People who are currently working as CPAs and senior accountants can answer questions and offer insights into common workplace scenarios more easily than those with solely academic qualifications.
  • Affordability: One of the best things about on-demand learning is its affordability. Because most on-demand courses can be taken online, you immediately save money on travel expenses. You can also sandwich them into your day, taking them at lunchtime, in the evenings, or on weekends if they are pre-recorded. Most online courses and other on-demand learning opportunities are reasonably priced. Some are even free. A subscription-based continuing education provider can also provide greater savings, with an unlimited number of courses available to you during the subscription period.
  • Speed: Another great benefit of on-demand learning is that it is self-paced. You can take classes as you need them. You don’t have to wait for a specific conference or workshop. Although it’s not smart to leave your continuing education requirements until the last minute, if you do get to the end of the year and find yourself lacking a few course hours, you can usually find an on-demand course to take online that will let you complete your requirement in record time.

Who doesn’t like to save time or money while learning valuable information? On-demand professional development answers the need for CPAs to finish their 40 hours of annual continuing education in a way that fits their needs.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Current Technology & Five Key Tips to Keep Up

By | MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

Change is the only constant in life and technology is no exception to that rule.  Technology is such a huge part of our daily lives – personally and professionally, so it’s crucial to keep up.  It’s important for your organization to stay current, stay supported, and take advantage of new features, recommendations, security, and maintenance offered by your software partners.

So, what can you do to prepare your organization for all this change and ensure you’re fully prepared once the latest and greatest version is live? This can be a challenge, whether the upgrade is a push-button overnight process or a six- to 12-month undertaking with intense testing.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for your next software upgrade.

Familiarize Yourself with the New Features

    • *Software vendors typically make release notes available well in advance of a required or suggested software upgrade. Research and understand what is being updated, so you’re not surprised by new functionality and features, once you’ve gone live (or been delivered your test environment). New features often range from necessary security updates to exciting new functionality. Knowing what the changes are, up front, will allow you and your team to take full advantage of all the latest features right out of the gate and reduce potential post-live frenzy.

 Check System Requirements

    • *Upgrades typically come with new system requirements, and it’s important to ensure your system can accommodate the new requirements prior to beginning the upgrade. A decision might also need to be made on whether a fresh installation is needed or if it’s suitable to install over a previous version of the software.

 Prepare Testing Plans

    • *Review your testing plan with internal and external stakeholders, and forward key dates and milestones to anyone affected. Nothing is worse than coming into work one day with a brand-new system and not knowing it was happening! This can set employees back tremendously as they learn the new system and/or need training.
    • *Once you’re familiar with all the changes and requirements, a testing plan should be developed for all business-critical processes. Depending on the complexity of the software, this might be done after the upgrade has already been pushed live (in SaaS solutions), or it could happen in an independent testing environment with exhaustive User Acceptance Testing (UAT) prior to deploying to a live environment. In either scenario, test cases should be created for end-users to verify their business-critical tasks are functioning as expected after the upgrade.

 Define Points of Contact and Contingency Plans

    • *Make sure there is a defined point of contact within your organization, as well as with the company providing the new software version. Processes should be defined prior to the upgrade on who to contact (and how) should something go wrong during or after the upgrade. Is there a rollback plan if UAT does not pass? What kind of support is offered after go-live? How do you report issues and potential bugs? You will save a lot of time and potential headache if this information is gathered prior to the upgrade!

 Back Up Your Data!

    • *Prior to performing an upgrade of any kind, a backup of all your data is essential. A loss of        even a small amount of data can be detrimental to business. Protect yourself and your                customers’ data by ensuring proper backups have been made prior to making any changes.

      Change may be inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be painful, and Welter Consulting is here to help!  While upgrading your organization’s enterprise software may seem a little overwhelming, with a solid plan in place and a little prep work, you’ll be excited about the change and all the new features and functionality that come with it.

      Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Mandatory Fun: Why Requiring Vacation Time for All Means a Better Workplace

By | HR, Nonprofit | No Comments

“I’m too busy to take a vacation!”

Have you caught yourself saying that? If so – stop. Just stop, right now. Because we’re here to tell you that fun is mandatory. Vacations aren’t just a nice thing to do. They’re important for your productivity, creativity, peace of mind, and a happy workplace.

Take Vacation – Please

Time off helps workers recharge their batteries and refresh their creativity. Studies have shown that staying busy all the time, or engaging the left brain (the logical, reasoning brain) for long periods of time depletes the creative energy needed for fresh thinking and ideas. In other words, time spent daydreaming on a beach or strolling the lanes of a foreign city is great for refreshing your left or creative brain.

To Check In or Not to Check In?

In order to fully reap the benefits of taking time off, it’s best not to check in at all, or to check in sparingly. Some executives may feel they should check in at regular intervals, setting times when they are available during vacation for quick calls or messages. Others check text messages but not email or voice mail. It’s important to set your own boundaries when it comes to taking time off.

The Benefits of Time Off

Vacation time may be a company benefit, but it offers the company benefits, too. For example, research has shown that workers who fail to take time off impact not just their own productivity but others at work, too. That’s because people who don’t take scheduled time off often find themselves taking unplanned time off like sick days because they burn themselves out. Then, in turn, their work must be completed by others, which adds to their stress. This can lower the overall morale and productivity of the entire team.

Another unexpected benefit of vacation time is that it may lower workplace fraud. The FDIC and the SEC both have policies in place to encourage vacation time. The FDIC, in fact, states that mandatory vacation rules discourage embezzlement. That’s because embezzlement and fraud require a sustained effort over time. Vacation disrupts that time and may make fraud more easily detected if the perpetrator isn’t there to cover his or her tracks.

Lastly, organizations who enforce mandatory vacation policies benefit their bottom line, too. Policies that allow workers to accrue vacation time can set the stage for an expensive payout when someone with a lot of vacation time accrued finally leaves the company. A “use it or lose it” policy prevents vacation from accruing annually. It both encourages people to take time off and prevents a big payout when someone leaves.

Leaders Set the Tone

If you’re in a leadership position within your organization, it’s important that you set a positive tone around taking time off. Never make anyone feel guilty for attending to family or personal needs. Be generous with time off policies, and respect people’s boundaries when it comes to taking time off. That means don’t call them when they’re on their wedding anniversary cruise and avoid sending emails during their vacation unless it’s necessary.

 

People sometimes think that vacation time is frivolous, perhaps a holdover from the old-fashioned Puritan work ethic that drives some people to work until exhaustion. But if you’re too tired to work, you’ll be of no use to anyone – not to your clients, your coworkers, or more importantly, to your family or to yourself. Take time off this summer for your sake and that of your company.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.