A case study demonstrating Controllership Solutions LLC broad scope of services and the power of QuickBooks:
In 2010, when market conditions were right, a group of private-equity-backed, petroleum industry experts formed to acquire distressed oil refineries and turn them around. The newly formed company with significant financial backing went from 0 to 3 oil refineries in less than a year. Each deal required a quick close, and accounting systems were needed for implementation ASAP. However, their system of choice, SAP, would take months to configure and roll out. An employee suggested QuickBooks; they searched for the right professional resource and, after interviewing several firms, found Controllership Solutions LLC. Smith immediately got to work. The assignment was three-fold.
Understand the full accounting cycle. Years of working in a fully automated SAP system had isolated many tasks from the up & downstream users and sub-ledger systems. Smith toured the refineries, interviewed dozens of employees and researched legacy accounting tasks. He also became familiar with the operations of the business to gain a more thorough understanding; this included the chemistry and process flow of the refinery business. (The first 1-2 months of the engagement)
Once data sources were identified, QuickBooks was optimized to provide stakeholders the detailed reports they would need. Smith configured QuickBooks by utilizing customized fields, templates, memorized reports and chart of accounts. Frequently, complex calculations for pricing and volumetric activity were required. This was beyond QB’s computational ability. Smith analyzed and codified customer contracts and developed excel-based worksheet templates that would convert numerous pricing, volumetric and chemical analysis inputs into the required price and quantity values for QB invoicing.
Finally, Smith developed detailed procedure manuals. As the company staffed up, Smith trained the new hires, configured user accounts with proper permissions and served as a QB tech supporter and troubleshooter. The accounting process was designed to ensure accuracy and completeness via segregation of duties and checks and balances fitting for a billion dollar company with go-public aspirations. Specifically, control totals and completeness tests reconciled sub-ledger systems to the QuickBooks GL on a daily basis. This insured accuracy and allowed the books to be closed within weeks after month end.
As the accounting department continued to expand, Smith stayed on and continued to provide controllership services. Smith ran customized reports for management, helped reconcile problematic transactions and answered staff questions. Given the understanding Smith had acquired of the company, he was utilized for cross functional and special departmental projects. Smith assisted with booking month end journal entries and auditing unusual balances. He also brought the SAP implementation team up to speed on the knowledge and information he gathered when implementing QuickBooks and parsing data for the SAP upload. When the books were audited by their outside accountants and creditor banks, Smith acted as point person to coordinate numerous detailed and highly substantive audit requests.
“Stephen exceeded all expectations. He quickly recognized what needed to be done and executed timely and accurately with little direction and much initiative. His ability to anticipate the reporting needs of management, his knowledge of QuickBooks and effectiveness as a trainer to bookkeeping staff was instrumental in getting a complex, billion dollar work flow with zero errors right the first time. Stephen was respected by staff and an asset to management.”
A Case Study demonstrating Controllership Solutions LLC’s set-up and training services and the importance of quality data.
In the Northern pan-handle of Idaho, just 30 miles shy of the Canadian border resides, Selkirk Powder Company (www.SelkirkPowder.com). SPC provides guided back country snowcat skiing excursions and separately operates snowmobile tours. Formed in 2002, SPC operates a unique model; to lower overhead costs they searched out and created their 4000+ acre operation on the back of an “up and coming” Rocky Mountain ski area, Schweitzer Mountain Resort. (www.schweitzer.com)
The outfit has grown to include a 10 passenger snowcat (grooming machine with a cab), a fleet of snowmobiles and a lodge on the summit of Schweitzer Mountain. Guests travel from all over the world to ski with SPC and are rewarded with an experience that exceeds expectations. Highlights include personable guides, beautiful scenery, keepsake YouTube videos and 300-400+ inches of powder/ season which have created a strong following of loyal customers.
While incredible attention was invested in the guest experience, a lack of focus on accounting and customer data created an information gap between management and investors and the bottom line. Much of the daily recordkeeping was done manually via Excel or paper. This meant that accurate, real-time P&L and backlog information was not available until it was too late.
Enter Controllership Solutions LLC and Stephen M. Smith CPA (a lifelong skier). Smith had an existing client relationship with an SPC founder. When a simple cash flow question was asked, additional discussions were had and it was soon evident that SPC’s accounting systems needed upgrading. Smith got to work developing a QuickBooks file structure enabling multiple data metric points that could be later analyzed for guest bookings, cash flow, CRM and operating stats. To ensure secure access by multiple stakeholders across the country, the file was hosted on secure 24x7 servers.
Smith traveled to Sandpoint, Idaho to train management and staff on the new policies and procedures. SPC’s outside accounting firm was included in the process and welcomed the system upgrades which allowed them to be more efficient with tax and financial statement preparation. Smith’s involvement continued as a “virtual controller” upon returning back East. Smith answered follow up questions, addressed problematic transactions, insured accuracy by reconciling balance sheet items and provided stakeholders monthly financial summaries with financial visuals, analysis and commentary. In addition to consulting on SPC’s accounting, Smith provided input on marketing, software management, website design and other business issues.
The improvement in data organization was of immediate benefit for customized tasks like tracking customer deposits and automatic issuing of credits due to weather cancellation. Income was now matched with expenses and revenue was appropriately recognized on the actual day of the excursion. The resulting financial data provided better cash flow projections and the increased controls over scheduling and cash provide a platform for scaling booking operations.
And as for Smith, who had never skied out West prior to this trip - he has been converted to the thrill of powder skiing!
Check out these video’s produced by his client, and friend, Selkirk Powder Company:
(Smith is the silky smooth skier sporting the Yellow & Black North Face jacket.)
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A case study demonstrating Controllership Solutions LLC’s system selection and implementation services.
Since Studio 1200’s inception the talented architects and designers at Studio 1200 recognized the importance of good recordkeeping. They have been a long time Controllership Solutions LLC client and diligently maintained accurate and detailed records. However, when staff and project work started to take off, existing manual processes were also increasing. In turn, burdensome manual data entry and report creation inhibited the ability of management to timely collect, process and report on the businesses financial data.
Growth is good, and fortunately there are hundreds of third-party software applications that integrate with QuickBooks. Intuit-approved developers specifically design programs to address growth pain points. This stretches the capabilities of QuickBooks, providing strong returns on investment, before needing to jump to costly and complex enterprise software programs.
Enter Stephen Smith of Controllership Solutions LLC. It’s Smith’s job to keep abreast of the latest accounting and software technologies and his passion to streamline bookkeeping systems into efficient operations. There were three areas of concern: tedious tracking of staff hours worked, time-consuming data-entry of charged expenses and inability to extract relevant industry specific reports. Smith selected three best in class third-party software applications that integrate with QuickBooks to mitigate the bottlenecks: SpringAhead, ScanWriter, and WebKPI.
Specifically, these programs resulted in multiple benefits:
Hours and hours of time savings.
Significantly reduced risk of data-entry errors.
Convenient web-based time entry insuring maximum compliance.
Efficient time approval process, to catch and correct errors early.
Integrated project time tracking for job costing reports.
Stable QB integration from Intuit Gold Developers
Deeper insight into business metrics.
24x7 real-time web-based secure accessibility to key data.
All the benefits are provided in a “green” –i.e. paperless platform.
In addition to software selection, Controllership Solution’s provided Studio 1200 with full service installation, staff training and troubleshooting. Smith wrote memos, instruction-manuals and documentation for staff reference. Firm-wide meetings and tutorial sessions were held to communicate new policies, procedures, and align staff with company goals. As learning curve issues were resolved Smith stayed on to provide ongoing Controllership services such as review financial reports monthly with the partners and assist with any problematic transactions.
“Stephen’s style and service are exactly what we need. He’s there when we need him, is available for quick email questions and we can relax knowing that our finances are in order.”
A case study demonstrating Controllership Solutions LLC’s e-commerce order fulfillment solutions and guided implementation services.
Founded in 1987, Mariell is an international wholesaler of bridal jewelry and accessories. Its products have brought style to more than a million special events. Mariell sells exclusively through 4,000+ authorized retailers worldwide and prides itself on superior customer service and delivery within 1-2 business days on 1000s of stock items. In 2011, Mariell launched www.Mariellonline.com to supplement its renowned 148 page catalog. The website was well received and business increased substantially.
Despite a professionally designed front-end website, the back-end processes weren’t operating efficiently. Mariell had installed Webgility eCC (e-Commerce Connector), a product that synchronizes the web store and QuickBooks. This was the right product, however it was not configured properly. Other problematic issues, such as separate QuickBooks files, prevented comprehensive financial reports from showing the whole picture. And manual reporting and posting was time-consuming and error prone. This created information gaps that resulted in frustrating bottlenecks in both order processing and collections. When internal efforts were exhausted Mariell looked for outside expertise to help push its tech savvy management team over the learning curve.
Mariell reached out to Stephen M Smith CPA, owner of Controllership Solutions LLC. After a brief phone interview they were ready to get started. Smith is a QuickBooks expert specializing in accounting technologies that integrate order processing and accounting work flow. Smith conducted a needs assessment interview and immediately understood Mariell’s needs and vision for the system. He provided a strategic roadmap and an estimate of the efforts required.
Smith’s consulting guidance insured an efficient project. The implementation was done in phases. Staff and management took on day-to-day executional tasks with Smith returning at key milestones in more complex situations to address roadblocks, address questions and keep the project moving forward. Specifically, the following key issues were handled.
Merge the two QuickBooks (QB) files to one.
Migrate to QB Enterprise with five-users.
Host QB file remotely on Right Networks allowing anywhere access from the Company’s Mac standard computers.
Configure Webgility eCC to properly synchronize inventory and order data between three systems:
Order Cup Shipping module to print USPS shipping labels;
QuickBooks for accounting and inventory.
Once the system properly set-up Mariell conducted an extensive inventory count. The accurate inventory balances were uploaded into QuickBooks, which in turn synchronized to the website. Mariell customers now view real-time inventory stock status from the website. Out-of stocks are prevented with automated re-order point notifications. Staff was trained to reconcile daily merchant deposits, receive inventory, enter PO’s and address common customer inquiries. And management is enjoying significant time savings, increased staff productivity, accurate financial reports and a better infrastructure to strategically grow the business.
“Our biggest regret was not finding Stephen sooner. Stephen’s services were exactly what we needed. His consulting style is efficient and effective. His expertise is top-notch. He guided and taught us along the way and explained his approach and rational so we knew what we were doing but why we were doing it. And his genuine care and enthusiasm for our business is appreciated.”
A case study demonstrating Controllership Solution's Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and technology guidance services.
White Birch Landscape Design LLC is a full service landscaping company in Livingston, NJ. Services include lawn care and maintenance, hardscape, landscape design, and snow removal. Additionally, full service tree work is offered via sister company Timberland Tree. For years, the entrepreneurial owner maintained books and records adequate for tax reporting purposes. However, invoicing, collections and record keeping were dreaded chores and as the company grew, inefficiencies started taking more and more time. There had to be a better way.
Enter Stephen M. Smith CPA of Controllership Solutions LLC, an expert in accounting and business technology solutions. During the initial engagement, the collections and record keeping were updated and the Quick Books file was reconciled. White Birch then hired Smith on a regular basis as outsourced Controller. With each visit, business and technology implementation projects were identified and implemented. Smith prioritized and paced the process to insure compliance and understanding by the principle.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS over several years:
Invoice look, feel and content were redesigned and were automated for monthly billings.
Formal customer proposals and contracts were created.
E-pay and merchant solution options were added.
Intuit Payroll with direct deposit replaced time-consuming weekly check issuances and inefficient tax filing exercises.
Bill.com was implemented to provide customers with a customer portal, to further automate billing and collections, and add efficiencies to the accounts payable process.
A website and marketing collateral was commissioned,
Company email and file sharing capabilities were implemented via Google Apps.
QuickBooks was set up to be cloud hosted and remotely accessible via tablet.
Customer email addresses became part of the contact info and the preferred mode of communication.
White Birch enjoys the following benefits and more:
Significant time savings.
Collections have improved drastically.
Accurate and timely financial statements.
Improved communication with customers.
Nearly paperless green-friendly environment.
Cloud based remote access and collaboration.
Smith continues to serve as White Birch’s controller supervising the accounting cycle and also serving as trusted business advisor and valued member of White Birch’s management team.
“I highly recommend Controllership Solutions LLC. He is proactive in anticipating technology bottlenecks, takes an enthusiastic and vested interest in the success of my business, and accommodates my busy schedule. Stephen is great to work with.”
Nick DiFrancisco, Owner White Birch Landscaping LLC.