Category

Budget

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.

Financial Transparency

By | Accounting, Audit, Budget, FASB, Grant Management, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit, Uncategorized | No Comments

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one of the definitions of “transparency” is “characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices”.  Transparency in your financial statement means it should be user friendly, clear, easily understandable and everything should be properly disclosed.

Importance of transparent financial statements

  • Proactive transparency and communication are essential to organizational success. Stakeholder understanding and support  is a direct result of transparency and open communication.
  • A practice of continuous, transparent communication enables an organization to better respond to crises – such as physical disaster, fraud, or the sudden loss of a leader – and execute more robust crisis communication strategies.
  • Establishing a culture of transparency is critical for effective governance, constituent engagement, and responsive management.
  • Opening communication channels can help to establish meaningful and productive relationships with constituents. These relationships can have a significant impact on long-term performance.

Start with the Stakeholders

Know both internal stakeholders (board, committees, senior management, management team, staff, volunteer workers) and external stakeholders (customers, donors, funders, grantors, creditors, partners, government, public). It is imperative that you understand their needs and expectations. Information needs, communication methods, and information consumption patterns vary substantially from segment to segment. Meeting and exceeding the information needs for each of these groups is critical to delivering satisfaction. 

If that’s too overwhelming, start by identifying your top two to three stakeholders. Determine what they need/want and go from there.

Strategic messages with financial statements

Make the data you have today more understandable and relatable; enhance the story and improve disclosure. When we think about financial statements we think revenue inputs and expense outputs but we need to be thinking more about outcomes.

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.

Mentoring for Accounting Executives

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

Mentoring conjures up images of students clutching diplomas so new the ink isn’t dry yet, but mentoring has a long and venerable history. Centuries before formal higher education became the norm, craftspeople learned their trade by the side of a mentor. Today, mentoring programs help new managers, junior executives, and others improve their leadership, communications, and management skills.

But mentoring isn’t just for junior executives. It’s also for senior-level executives and corporate leaders. Let’s face it: smart people never stop learning. Mentoring programs formalize that concept by pairing strong leaders together so that they can learn, grow, share, and profit from each other’s expertise.

Hallmarks of a Successful Mentoring Program

Successful mentoring programs follow specific guidelines that have proven to be successful. These guidelines include:

  • Meet with your mentor in person: Although it’s tempting for busy executives to revert to telephone meetings, face-to-face meetings seem to be more effective for developing a relationship of trust and mutual support that’s essential for a good mentoring relationship. If you are time pressed (and who isn’t?), schedule coffee, breakfast, or lunch meetings with your mentor once a month. Block out the time on your calendar so that it’s as important as meetings with clients, auditors, and consultants.
  • Determine areas of improvement: During your first meeting, determine several areas you’d like to work on together with your mentor. Limit your objectives to three; anything more than that can be difficult to accomplish, and anything less may be so easy you won’t take it as seriously as you should.
  • Write an action plan: There’s something about writing out your goals, objectives, plans and commitments that make them seem more important than merely discussing them with your mentor. Write out a formal action plan and share it with your mentor for feedback. Establish both benchmarks and methods of measurement; how will you determine if you’ve successfully achieved your goals?
  • Ask for homework: “Homework” in the terms of a mentoring agreement is a list of specific tasks to accomplish before your next meeting. As you meet, share, and reflect on your mentor’s feedback, he or she will provide you with things to do and consider in order to change your approach to problems. This is your homework. Write it down and commit to following through with it.
  • Remain open to feedback: It can be tough for a strong leader or executive to receive feedback. Many leaders are successful people precisely because they are quite good at what they do. But, everyone has room for improvement. It can be difficult not to get defensive when you hear critical comments or suggestions to change how you approach a problem. This is precisely why you’ve agreed to a mentoring relationship with another executive, and it would serve you well to remain open to constructive feedback. A good mentor will sprinkle both praise and criticism in their feedback, but don’t tune out the criticism to bask in the praise!
  • Be honest: Along with remaining open to criticism and feedback, it’s vital to cultivate an open, honest relationship with your mentor. If you are holding back on problems or stumbling blocks, your mentor can’t help you become more successful. Give and receive with an honest, open mind.
  • Follow up: After the initial mentoring period is complete and you have achieved the milestones established in your action plan, set dates for follow-up sessions. You may wish to continue the mentoring relationship or conclude it, but either way, be sure to follow up with your mentor to share progress and achievements.

Finding a Mentor

Mentors are those with equal or greater experience than their mentees. For executives, it can be difficult to find a mentor within their own companies since they are usually at the top of the org chart and the problems they need to discuss may be those they share with other leaders in their organization. An outside perspective cannot be gained by constantly rehashing problems inside your organization. It becomes essential to find a mentor outside of your organization.

Many professional organizations provide mentoring programs. Ask within your own professional groups about mentorship. If they do not have such a group, consider starting one. You may also find mentors within your professional networks online or within civic organizations.

Mentoring isn’t limited to junior staff members. Executives can also benefit from  a mentoring relationship. Learning never stops, and leaders never stop learning.

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.

Tips and Tricks: Finding and Using Advanced Smartphone Calculator Apps

By | Accounting, Audit, Budget, CPA, Nonprofit | No Comments

How did any of us manage our businesses without smartphones? Today’s smartphones act like portable computers with more computing power in these tiny handheld gadgets then people a decade or two ago could imagine. For the busy CPA on the go, a smartphone offers a great portable computer that can

perform many tasks while you’re traveling, working from a client’s office, or trying to sneak in a bit of work between innings at your child’s Little League game.

One important app that no CPA’s smartphone should be without is a calculator app. We’re not talking about the simple apps that come with your smartphone, great though they may be. We’re talking about apps that pack the power punch a CPA needs for advanced number crunching.

Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks for finding and using advanced smartphone calculator apps. Before downloading any app, check to make sure it is compatible with your particular make and model of phone.

Android Compatible Calculator Apps

* One++ offers 245 calculating options that cover more than the basic needs of the average CPA. Unit conversations, basic and advanced math, capitalization ratios, depreciation, and much more are all available. Best of all, it can be voice activated, so it can find formula prompts for you with verbal commands. It can recognize 12 languages, so if you’re traveling and need to share it with another CPA, you’re covered too. It’s a great tool available from many of the Android Shops online, and it’s FREE.

* Mobi: Mobi offers two choices of calculators, a free version, and a very minimally priced paid version. The free version is just a step up from basic, but Mobi Calculator Pro, the paid version, offers great features for a CPA. The paid version features include expressions, formulas and highly advanced calculators. The app includes a memory function that enables you to recall the past 50 calculations, so if you make a mistake you can backtrack and find it. It also allows you to save your work.

* Wolfram Alpha: For less than what a latte costs, Wolfram Alpha offers a wealth of tools for financial advisors, CPAs, and others involved in the world of accounting, investments, and financial management. Data and research on stocks, indexes, mortgage value, present value, depreciation and other issues are included, and the tool can also perform advanced research for many financial queries. Wolfram Alpha also has an iOS version compatible with iPhones.

iOS Apps

* Soulver: For a small cost, you’ve got an amazing smartphone app for your iOS compatible products. Soulver includes columnar formatted calculations that are editable. You can also create currency conversions and perform unit conversions.

* Tydlig: Talk about a spreadsheet on the go – or on your phone, that is Tydlig. It combines a calculator with spreadsheet-style functions to build your own accounting canvas. Add labels to graphs and charts, calculate formulas, and export your work to a PDF to print back at the office. It’s a great portable accounting app if you travel a lot and need to conduct some work on the fly. For the amount of a candy bar, it may be a great investment for your productivity.

To find a great calculator app for your needs, review these and other compatible apps using any free trials offered. At these prices, however, you don’t need to pinch pennies. You can try one or several for a while and see which one feels right for your business needs.

With so many CPAs traveling for business, working remotely, or working during their mass transit commutes, calculator apps such as these offer great productivity tools.

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. We offer hands-on training as well as webinars to take you to the next level with your fund accounting system. Check out the full schedule of our training events here.