Do You Need a Coach or Consultant?

By | Professional Development | No Comments

Business coaching, personal coaching, or consulting—what is the difference among these professional services and what does your organization really need? Many nonprofit organizations do not have the budget to hire consultants or coaches, but if you are looking for one—either personally or professionally—it’s important to understand the difference in how each service works, and what the expectations should be for working with each.

Coaching and Consulting Defined

Coaching is a process in which a coach—business, personal, etc. —helps an individual set and reach their goals. The coach offers guidance and support along the way, often with weekly meetings or other check-in sessions to ensure the person being coached is on track to achieve their goals. The coach will help the individual develop self-awareness, identify areas for improvement, and create action plans. The focus is on the individual’s personal growth and development.

Consulting is a process in which an expert in a particular field offers advice and guidance to an individual or organization. The consultant’s goal is to provide insights, resources, and expertise to help the individual or organization reach their goals. The focus is on the organization’s operations, strategies, and processes, rather than the individual’s personal growth and development.

Difference in Approach and Expectations

Coaches and consultants also differ in their approach. Coaches typically work one to one with clients, serving as both cheerleader and guide to achieving personal goals. Consultants, on the other hand, work at an organizational level, approaching business problems from the viewpoint of an expert in a particular business discipline such as accounting, finance, marketing, or management.

Given these differing approaches, the expectations should also be different whether you are working with a coach or a consultant. A coach will help an individual move past personal roadblocks, whereas a consultant should help an organization rethink and revisit processes, procedures, systems, and approaches that are hindering them as a while from achieving their objectives.

Coaching Differs from Therapy

Given the highly personal work that coaches offer, why shouldn’t people consult a therapist instead of a coach to help them overcome personal problems? Coaches approach problem-solving differently than therapists. Therapists are attuned to underlying patterns of behavior and maladaptation that may lead to psychological problems. Coaches do not deal with psychological problems. Instead, they focus on helping people make better choices, enforce positive steps, and offer guidance to overcome problems.

Expert Consultants Save Your Organization Time and Money

An expert business consultant can save your organization a great deal of time and money. Given their expertise, they can help you steer your organization towards the right systems, processes, tools, and resources to improve efficiency and ability to deliver on your mission.

For example, your organization’s systems, including accounting systems, grant management, and donor management systems, can save countless hours of manual data entry into spreadsheets. They can improve your ability to track and manage funds. And they can provide better support for all aspects of your organization so that you can implement, manage, and monitor programs effectively.

The right business consultant knows their domain so well that they can help you avoid many of the pitfalls that similar organizations face. Welter Consulting offers a variety of consulting services including software solutions and technology, accounting, audit preparation, systems review, process improvement/documentation, internal controls, and many other accounting/business management services that save your organization time and money and allows you the flexible consulting you need.

Sign up for our Complimentary Systems Review and Start Your Year Off Right

It’s accrual world. Your accounting system should not be cruel. Take advantage of this opportunity to have a Systems Review and start the new year off right. 

Included in this complimentary service is a written review identifying your current systems and technology and a list of opportunities to improve these systems and help you get the most out of your accounting software.

If you are tired of manual and redundant processes, it’s time to SIGN UP for our Systems Review Now!

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 us for more information.

Tips for 2023 Affordable Care Act Compliance

By | Accounting, Audit, Insurance | No Comments

One of the more controversial aspects of recent legislation was the increase of funding for the Internal Revenue Services’ enforcement team. Many expect that the IRS will turn their attention to previously neglected areas of enforcement, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Affordable Care Act: Compliance Basics

If it’s been a while since you reviewed ACA compliance, here is a brief refresher. Large employers with 50 or more full-time employees are required to provide adequate and affordable medical coverage to their employees. If they fail to do so, the penalties include a fine of $229.17 a month or $2,750 for 2022, multiplied by the total number of full-time employees in excess of 30. The 49080H(b) penalty amount of $343.33 a month or $4,120 for 2022 is assessed on a per-employee basis for every full-time employee who receives a premium tax credit after not being offered adequate or affordable coverage.

Compliant Companies May Still Face Audits

Let’s assume that your company meets the ACA coverage requirements and fully complies with the Affordable Care Act. You may feel you’re in the clear. However, just because your company is complying does not mean it is exempt from an ACA assessment. Failing to complete forms 1094 and 1095-C can raise red flags especially if you report health insurance amounts on forms W2 filed with the IRS. This kind of discrepancy can lead to questions from the IRS and/or employees when trying to file their taxes which could lead to fines and assessments being charged to you for non-compliance. This failure can also flag other governmental agencies leading to other non-compliance fines and penalties.

Up until 2021, the IRS held a policy of “good faith,” meaning that if employers can demonstrate they were trying to comply with the requirements in good faith by showing their due diligence, they were given grace to rectify any incomplete or incorrect reports. That grace period, however, ended in 2022, and many are seeing an uptick in IRS inquiries over incomplete or incorrect ACA reporting.

Common ACA Reporting Mistakes

Employers make many ACA reporting mistakes, but these are the most common. Check to ensure you’re not making these common errors on forms 1094 and 1095-C which can lead to unnecessary penalties and requests from the IRS for further information.

  1. Over reporting employees: You only need to issue 1095-C to full-time employees. There’s no need to issue it to part-time employees.
  2. Not validating safe harbor codes: You must validate, or provide documentation, to claim safe harbor for affordability on 1095-C. Speak with your accounting expert or CPA to determine if your company does indeed meet the safe harbor requirement
  3. Avoid “free” reporting services: If your bookkeeping software comes with “free” ACA reporting features, use with caution, and have someone double check the results that understands ACA 1095/1094 filing requirements, even if it comes out of your payroll/accounting system.
  4. Not responding to marketplace notices: Responding to marketplace notices is the first opportunity to prevent mistaken penalties. When an employee is determined eligible for a premium tax credit to purchase coverage from the Marketplace, they typically receive a notice of eligibility determination. If the employee can prove to the Marketplace that affordable, adequate coverage wasn’t made available by the employer when in fact it was, the employer can and should appeal. Don’t ignore marketplace notices or employee concerns that come up while they try to file their taxes annually.
  5. Get a benefit plan review annually if you are offering health insurance and other benefits to your employees unless you are an expert in ACA compliance and filing requirements. Another option is to outsource ACA processing and associated compliance to a third-party provider like your health insurance plan providers. Paying for a benefit plan review or outsourcing this function to a third party that specializes in this area will be well worth the cost of these services. Increased priority has been given to ACA filing & compliance starting in 2022 from the IRS and is evident with the number of agents they have assigned to this area for 2022.

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 us for more information.

How to Find and Clean Dirty Data

By | Data, Technology | No Comments
broom sweeping data

If dirty data sounds like something you want to get rid of, and fast, it is. What is dirty data? It is corrupted, incomplete, or inaccurate data that is clogging up your accounting system and making it difficult to produce accurate reports. Here, we share tips for finding and cleaning such data from your systems.

A Primer on Dirty Data

One question you may ask is, “How does dirty data get into our system in the first place?”

Several factors contribute to dirty data in a system. The first is obvious: human error. Individuals entering customer information may inadvertently create duplicates by misspelling a company or customer name or using an acronym instead of spelling out a word. Other factors that can cause poor data quality include lack of internal controls, merging systems together, and inadequate processes to manage data.

Steps to Identify and Correct Data Issues

CPAs and accountants who suspect that data quality issues are contributing to poor decision making should take steps to uncover and rectify dirty data. The following process can help identify problematic data.

  1. Understand and map the business process that creates the data: Data is captured as part of a business process or workflow. For example, an accounts payable process starts with the order of goods or services, receipt of an invoice from a vendor, and payment to the vendor. By mapping the process, you can then identify where data enters the system and points to review to ensure accuracy. For example, controls need to be in place to ensure that invoice amounts match the contract amounts, and that the final payment matches the approved invoice.
  2. Analyze data sources: How is data input into the system? Is it manually entered or automatically entered? Manual data entry creates more potential for mistakes, so these should be your first areas of inquiry.
  3. Identify acceptable data elements: Another important step is to identify what are considered the acceptable data elements or data fields. By making these consistent, you’ll ensure consistent data entry.
  4. Review existing data sets and tables: Although this step is time-consuming, it is important to manually open existing data sets and data tables and review them. You may wish to break this step into smaller parts or tackle it one hour per day for large datasets. This gives your mind a break between review sessions to ensure you see things with a fresh eye.
  5. Note what data is problematic or missing: After reviewing the data, take notes on which elements are missing or incomplete. These should be fixed as soon as possible.
  6. Document the database requirements: Create a data dictionary, which defines what information goes into each field. Document the requirements for data entry as well. This ensures consistency in future when others enter information into the system.
  7. Identify exceptions: As with every rule-based system, there will be exceptions to the rules. Identify these exceptions and document them as well to provide guidelines for what is an acceptable deviation from the norm.
  8. Clean the database: Fix any errors and remove duplicates after reviewing the entire database.

Hint: There are companies that can help you clean up big databases, especially those involving names and addresses. These companies can conduct what is called a “merge/purge/suppression” by comparing datasets and identifying for manual review any potential duplicates. Then duplicates can be merged, deleted (purged), or suppressed (hidden) depending on your needs. While this may not be an appropriate step for confidential financial information, for customer databases it can be an enormous time saver.

Garbage In, Garbage Out!

Failing to clean dirty data could result in poor decision-making (garbage in, garbage out) from reporting on bad data Taking the necessary steps now to have clean data in your system will be worth the short-term costs and resources required for this effort. Contact us for more information on this topic, help with your data clean-up project, best practices on data entry and shared data between multiple systems including automation, reporting and compliance.

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 us for more information.

Four Characteristics of a Successful Finance Leader

By | Accounting, Professional Development | No Comments
people standing and cheering behind another person in an office

What type of leader are you? Do you thrive on interactions with others, exchanging ideas, brainstorming, and working in groups? Or perhaps you are more on the visionary side, sharing stories, examples, and ideas to motivate and inspire your team.

These are just two examples of characteristics or traits of successful finance leaders. Not every leader possesses all these traits; most have a dominant working style, and perhaps a secondary style. No one style is better or worse than another, either. Some leadership styles fit in better with a particular organization’s culture than other styles, but that doesn’t necessarily make them better (or worse).

Each person’s personality is shaped by both innate characteristics and their life histories and experiences. We bring these attributes to our roles as finance leaders and managers. See which one of these four characteristics best describes your leadership style and learn how you can leverage your strengths for the betterment of the entire organization.

Leadership Style 1: The Connected Influencer

This is the leader who uses their connections within the organization—with the CEO, the CMO, and other leaders—to influence and shape the trajectory of their organization. They thrive on teamwork, but more so on using their position to create positive, lasting changes.

Leadership Style 2: The Authentic Disruptor

This is the leader who isn’t satisfied with the status quo. They are constantly asking, “Why?” Why do we do things this way and not another? These questions lead to lasting, positive changes in the organization. They are often viewed by the CEO as innovative and future-focused, someone who can be trusted to lead and manage change.

Leadership Style 3: The Curious Storyteller

The curious storyteller is a leader who connects the dots among various points of information in an organization to grasp and shape the big-picture store. This is the leader who sees the forest for the trees and who rarely gets lost in the details. Instead, they can juggle multiple points of view and sources of information to deeply understand whatever problems need to be solved.

Leadership Style 4: The Value Creator

The Value Creator takes a logical, rational approach to leadership. This is the leader who prefers facts and figures, and who can understand the big-picture consequences of the data presented in a report. The Value Creator focuses on KPIs, metrics, and measurements, and can quantify the value they bring to organization whether they’re addressing the board of directors or a group of employees.

Maximize Your Leadership Style

As you can see, each leadership style is unique. Leveraging the unique strengths of each role is one way to make the most of your personal leadership style.

The Connected Influencer, for example, thrives on making and maintaining connections. This leader benefits from participating in peer groups, attending conferences, and networking to make new connections. By making new connections, such a leader can bring fresh ideas into an organization and develop a support network whenever they need it.

For moribund or staid organizations, the Disruptor may be the one to bring the fresh winds of change into the building. A nonprofit with a venerable history, but set in its ways, may find itself shaken to the core by a disruptor’s leadership style, but in the end, it’s like spring cleaning—unpleasant while it’s underway but the outcome is welcome. Disruptors may wish to look for positions that enable them to ask the right questions to make changes. Organizations that are happy with the status quo probably aren’t for you; ones that are willing to ask and answer important questions will love your leadership traits.

The Curious Storyteller can also be a change agent, but they can also support organizations in crisis by helping them see beyond the immediate situation and into the future. Their unique gift of connecting the dots for people and weaving it into a compelling story can give hope to an organization that is struggling or motivate teams to move beyond the present and into the exciting future.

Lastly, the Value Creator often works best when paired with a visionary CEO or others in the leadership team who need grounding. Because you bring value through careful, clear, and logical analysis, you can offset the more “big picture” thinking of the Visionary. Finding a Visionary you work well with is the key to using your strengths to your advantage.

Are There More Than Four Leadership Styles?

People are like diamonds—they have many facets. Yes, there are more than four leadership styles, and they can be characterized quite differently depending on where they originate.

If you’re curious about leadership styles, it’s a fun area of personal growth to explore. Each management school groups leadership traits differently, and the intersection of personal characteristics (such as those analyzed by a Myers-Briggs, Enneagram or DISC assessment) along with management style theories can help you understand the nature of your personality and how your strengths and weaknesses can be used to benefit your organization and those around you.

About 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.