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Internal Controls & Abila MIP Fund Accounting™

By | Accounting, Audit, CPA, Internal Controls, Nonprofit, Uncategorized | No Comments

Internal controls provide safeguards against losses, thefts and mistakes. An old-fashioned way of keeping internal controls may be to have one staff member count out the petty cash box while another watches the process. The watcher in this case is the internal control. An extra set of eyes on the counting process keeps the person holding the cash in hand from making “mistakes”, whether intentional or not, when it’s handed over for counting.

Implementing internal controls can be easy! Our “Internal Controls for Nonprofits: Best Practice Resource Guide” can help your nonprofit establish best practice principles, policies, and procedures.

In larger, automated accounting systems for nonprofits, such as those that run Abila MIP, internal controls are built into the system. By automating many of the financial processes, it becomes more difficult for someone to circumvent the system and steal from your nonprofit.

A publication from the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants brings home the point that good internal controls, through the use of Abila MIP fund accounting and processes around them, can help prevent loss and “keep honest people honest.”

Safeguards Against Loss: Simple Internal Controls

The first and best internal control is to avoid handling cash when at all possible. It’s not that cash is bad, it’s just that it can be “lost” more easily than money that is already in the bank account and tallied in Abila MIP fund accounting.

A system of checks and balances keeps careful watch over your finances. A few internal controls to keep losses to a minimum:

  1. Lock checks and cash in a safe or drawer both during business hours and afterwards.
  2. Monitor access to the keys.
  3. Make it a rule that all employees, regardless of their job title or function, must have another employee present when opening the safe or cash drawer, and counting out money.
  4. Don’t let checks and cash pile up in the office. Make a bank deposit when the threshold reaches a certain amount.
  5. Use timecards to monitor hourly workers’ wages.
  6. Have a manager review timecard information regularly to ensure no one is ‘padding’ the hours.
  7. Do not let anyone borrow funds from the organization’s accounts for personal reasons, or use business credit cards for personal reasons.

Acting Swiftly

It is important to have written policies in place regarding fraud and theft so that you can take the appropriate steps to document, correct, and if necessary, terminate employees who circumvent or ignore internal controls. Depending on the circumstances, your organization may also have a zero-tolerance policy for theft, and a written policy regarding grounds for termination should include such information.

Take steps to create policies and internal controls for your staff. Train and teach them their expectations. Set in termination policies in place. Know who is handling your accounts, who has access to cash and checks, and how such resources are handled. Keeping track of your finances using good fund accounting software is a way to detect fraud and act swiftly.

Abila MIP Fund Accounting

Abila MIP Fund Accounting includes fraud protection and analysis within the system, so you can use the data within it to detect patterns of losses, analyze data, and prevent fraud.

Most losses do not occur in isolation. People find that if they can get away with one theft, they return and try again. This leaves a footprint or a recognizable pattern. Data ran from your fund accounting system may be able to display such patterns so that you can take immediate, corrective action.

At Welter Consulting, we want to help our nonprofit customers prevent losses and fraud. By utilizing good nonprofit fund accounting software, such as Abila MIP, you can keep careful track of all of your accounts and detect suspicious activity quickly.  Click to learn more about Abila MIP fund accounting.

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.

The Qualities of the Superstar Staff Accountant

By | Accounting, HR, Nonprofit, Uncategorized | No Comments

Superstar staff accountants look just like any other accountants on your team. Like Clark Kent before he transforms into Superman, your top players are camouflaged behind business attire just like any other employee.

But inside, they share the qualities of top performers in many fields – athletes, artists, entrepreneurs. The qualities of top staff accountants are what makes leaders emerge from among teams and what transforms organizations from the inside-out.

The best news: top staff accountants are made, not born. In other words, these skills can be learned and practiced to become the best you can be. You don’t have to have innate talent. Everyone can emerge with leadership skills if they apply themselves.

The Hallmarks of Top Staff Accountants

  1. Accuracy: Accounting is a profession in which attention to detail matters. Most accountants are, by nature, very detail-oriented. Superstars also pay attention to any and all the details that matter. No details are too small or too beneath their notice. They make sure that every cent is accounted for and also acknowledge time, effort, and a myriad of other quantifiable items.
  2. Teamwork: Good employees work with others, but great ones understand the concept of building, participating in, and managing teams. Good teamwork means sharing your strengths and supporting coworkers by upholding your deadlines, agreements, and responsibilities.
  3. Deadlines: As with accuracy, accounting is a deadline-driven profession. Tax deadlines, payroll deadlines, and other filing deadlines are set by the IRS, state, and local tax authorities. Great staff accountants adhere to deadlines and plan so that they do not miss deadlines.
  4. Time management: Masters of their craft are also masters at time management. Along with meeting deadlines, they manage towards the deadlines so that they aren’t scrambling as deadlines loom. They understand and adjust their schedules to their workload, managing their time productively and efficiently.
  5. Big-picture view: Great accounting staff are able to take the big-picture view of their work. They can step back and assess the situation, and they understand how their efforts and those of colleagues support the organization’s mission and vision. They understand that their contributions and the contributions of others matter.
  6. Communications: Another aspect of great staff accountants is their ability communicate well with managers, subordinates, clients, and coworkers. They can explain complex rules and regulations or tax concepts to anyone, adjusting their language and description to the audience at hand. They write clearly and succinctly – and know when to send an email or pick up the phone.
  7. Integrity: Superstars shine with integrity. No matter if anyone is looking or not, the great staff accountants do the right thing consistently. They uphold high ethical standards and expect others around them to do the same.
  8. Excel experts: Spreadsheets are no problem for superstar staff accountants. They ‘excel’ at Excel, and don’t mind sharing their knowledge of spreadsheets, computer systems, or other things with the team.
  9. Always setting the bar higher: Like top athletes who aren’t content with breaking one records, top staff accountants always set the bar higher for themselves. They look for professional development opportunities as well as opportunities to learn new skills. Once they achieve a goal, they’re onto the next one. Top accounting staff always want to exceed their professional best.

How do you stack up to this list? If you feel exhausted just reading it, don’t despair. As we said at the beginning, great accountants are made, not born. Pick one skill on this list and focus on mastering it. As you work on each, they become second nature. Soon, you too will rank among the superstar staff accountants.

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.

Get Along Better with Your Boss – and Get More Done at Work

By | Nonprofit, Uncategorized | No Comments

Tips for Managing up

You’ve read many articles on how to manage subordinates. Tips for delegation, communication, and other work-related issues. But how many articles have you read about managing up – about how to improve your relationship with your supervisor?

The people to whom we report have a big influence on our careers and work experience. Yet few consider the benefits of improving their working relationship with their boss or supervisor. Whether you report to one person or several, managing up can help you move ahead and get more done at work.

Tips for Managing the Managers

Everyone has a manager. Even your organization’s CEO reports to a Board of Directors or others who have a say in his or her work. You may have chosen to work with your current supervisor or the reporting lines may have changed since your initial start date. No matter the reason why you currently work for the supervisor that you have, all relationships can benefit from applying these tips.

Improve communications

Improving communications with your supervisor(s) means trusting them with both the good and the bad news. Subordinates often try to shield their bosses from unpleasant news. This can boomerang on you, however, because your supervisor may find out and be blindsided by key information you could have, and should have, shared.

Learn how to trust your supervisor. Share information that will help supervisors do a better job. Rely on facts, not assumptions or feelings, to inform your conversations.

In addition to spoken communications, discuss with your supervisor how often he or she prefers to receive communication via emails. Some supervisors like to be copied on everything; even if they don’t comment on an email, it helps them stay on top of all of the work that’s going on. Others want just the topline summary. Confirm first, and adjust your communication style to be helpful to your supervisor.

Share judiciously

Share details about your personal life, ambitions, and goals judiciously. Yes, your supervisor needs to know that you have your eye on the CFO chair someday, but they don’t need to know every detail of your personal life story. Your supervisor is probably very busy and doesn’t have time for a lot of personal chatter. As you get to know them better, you may find a working relationship that turns into a true friendship. At that point, the rules surrounding sharing change, but for the most part, keep your conversations focused on work with an eye towards shared business goals.

Work as a team

Lastly, work as a team. Support your supervisor. Don’t fight against their requirements, requests or direction. Be supportive, and always maintain a positive outlook. Keep good working relationships with everyone in your department as well as with your supervisor for the best outcome for all.

A Good Worker and a Good Manager Share Similar Traits

Good managers, like good workers, listen, prioritize, share judiciously, and feel as one of the team rather than in competition with their subordinates. This approach adds a positive spin to every interaction in your department and leads to productive, harmonious relationships at work. Give it a try and see how well it works!

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.

Accounting and Project Management: Two Unlikely Allies

By | Accounting, Grant Management, HR, Nonprofit, Uncategorized | No Comments

As an accounting professional, you know that you play an important role in your organization. Your team can help your organization achieve its goals more effectively by  working alongside project managers.

Project managers may be part of the marketing, creative services, information technology or any other department. Their job is to organize, guide, and as the name implies, manage a project from start to finish, ensuring that timelines, milestones, and budgets are met.

As you can imagine, accounting can best partner on the budget side of projects, however, accounting teams can help project managers with so much more. Here’s how the two can become unlikely but powerful allies to build organizational efficiency.

The Accounting Team Knows How It’s Done

Accounting teams have a special knack for understanding the workflow within an organization. Chalk it up to knowing where the money flows in and out, but the accounting team can be the organizational experts on who does what, when and how.

That information is essential for project managers struggling to align processes and people with project goals and milestones. The accounting staff understand the risks, controls, and other details that can help projects move smoothly through the organization. They know how work gets done internally and can guide project managers around any potential obstacles.

Project Management Methodology

Accountants who wish to add value to the project management team must, however, learn the language and methodology of successful project management.

Projects are mapped with a specific workflow in mind. There is a beginning,a middle (or milestones to reach), and a stated goal which marks the end.

The overall project map can be called a charter or project plan. Accountanting professionals, used to managing risk, can add value to the creation of a project plan or charter by objectively identifying potential risks from their unique perspective.  This can help the project managercorrect any faulty assumptions and keep projects on track.

Accounting Participates from the Start

Another helpful hint: Participate in project plans from the start. Don’t wait until the project is near completion and the project manager needs help finding additional funds in the budget to complete it. You can add the greatest value to a project by working alongside the project team from the start to advise on process and budgets.  Instead of coming in at the last minute, your guidance is essential near the project kickoff, in the middle when the project may need changes or additions, as well as with final budgeting.

Tips to Manage Project Risks

Accountants are risk managers. To add your greatest strength to the project management process, use these tips to help manage risks.

  • Help the project manager at the beginning of a project.
  • Stay involved with the project. Attend meetings of the project team and review any documents, emails or other materials promptly.
  • Ask questions like an auditor. Key stakeholders in project meetings can help identify the most important project milestones that deserve focus.
  • Be aware of workload dips and spikes, and accommodate the crunch periods with additional help.
  • Identify project scope creep, or when the work moves outside of the intended project. Gently guide it back into scope with the help of the project manager.

By asking the right questions and using your talents and strengths  in managing financial accounts, you can become a valuable ally and asset to the project management team in your organization.

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.