Accounting in a company is so much more than just focusing on the end of the year and tax season. There are crucial features your accounting solution should have to keep your business on track as well as growing and evolving at a steady pace. Here are a few must-haves when it comes to accounting reports and dashboards.
Flexible Income Statement Options
Your income statement, or profit and loss statement, is your go-to staple. But don’t stop at just a company-wide income statement. In an ideal world, you can break this down by location, by department, and by line of business. Comparing it to your budget also provides valuable information, as well as looking at this year vs. last year, or this month vs. this month last year. Being able to set alerts on this report to identify unexpected variances can also be incredibly useful. And being able to build trend lines and visually review your income statement is another valuable tool. But perhaps the most important part of an income statement is a system that allows you to see your income and expenses in real-time.
A Balance Sheet that Works for you, not Just your Accountant
Another staple of your standard accounting reports is your balance sheet. Being able to create trend lines around important items like cash balances is also high value – allowing you to keep an eye on changes in your cash balances. Your balance sheet is also the source for important metrics – KPI’s – around your company’s overall health. The data on this report can be used to create ratios and graphs to track balances and give you quick insight into the health of your business. Your cash to debt ratio, for example – is it trending up or down? Are you bleeding cash, or building cash reserves? How liquid is your company? Are your accounts receivable creeping up, but your sales remaining stable? All of these metrics provide you valuable insight into your business on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and your system should have this information at your fingertips.
Trend Lines, Graphs, and Exception Reports
How are your sales trending? Is one major customer trailing off, or spending more with you? What percentage of your sales are in each of your major expense categories? Is something getting out of line with expectations? How about notifications if some of your key numbers are falling out of line with your plan? Your accounting system should make it easy to monitor these types of metrics in either numbers or a graphical representation – whichever makes more sense to you. Taking the accounting data you have and analyzing it shouldn’t require rekeying data in Excel – your system should do this for you – ideally without having to engage your IT team!
Managing the Day to Day
We all have specific daily transactional reviews we want to do. Is that clearing account actually zero? Did someone charge an item to the wrong expense account? What’s waiting on someone to approve it? Answers to key questions around the accuracy and quality of your accounting data is important for your accounting system to provide. Your accounting system should make it easy to keep your fingers on the pulse of the day to day accounting operations in your company – letting you manage your data more easily rather than spend hours digging through your general ledger.