Updated: Aug 21
Ask These 5 Questions to Find Out
He looks good on paper. He talks a good talk and he’s definitely experienced. Yet, how do you really know that the Controller your are considering hiring can keep up with your business as you make changes? He seems to be good with technology, but deep down, does he really get it? As for the rest of your accounting team, are they streamlining your accounting and bookkeeping processes for you, or do you find yourselves too often entering information manually and repeatedly?
At this point, you may not really care. How important is it anyway? You might figure that the accounting team is just there to record your transactions and produce auditable financials to keep you out of trouble with the IRS. Your CPA can keep an eye on them, right?
Actually, as a technology driven firm, you need an accounting team that can move as fast as you can -- which can be a bit hard to find these days. Our accounting industry, admittedly, is a little behind the times sometimes. Seriously, it wasn't that long ago that we were still using adding machines to fill out spreadsheets on green-columned paper. Our industry has gone through as powerful a technical revolution as many others, but there are some who are still stuck in the dark ages.
As you make your next finance hire or evaluate your existing team, look beyond the resume, and ask these five questions:
1. Do They "Get" Your Underlying Technology?
For instance, at ProfitLinq, we know it's important to understand the underlying technology of our clients -- what it does, how it works, and any related challenges you might have while using it. Many finance teams don't really care to get into that level of detail. Instead, they view themselves as transactional historians who record the output without always understanding the underlying tech.
2. Are They Focused on Your Strategy?
To us, this strategic focus involves sitting down with you monthly, or perhaps even more often, to ensure that we are structuring your financials to reflect and generate the key metrics of your evolving business. Furthermore, it is extremely important that we consistently and proactively provide information in ways that are meaningful to you.
3. What Accounting Tech Stack Have They Implemented for You?
Automation is changing the accounting industry, along with machine learning and other AI. Has your accounting team embraced these innovations, or do they view them as threats to job security?
4. How Well Do They Simplify Complex Accounting Needs?
Let’s face it: at a minimum, you should have automated bill payment, cloud accounting software, time tracking, and, if you accept cryptocurrency, a subledger system. The right team can seamlessly integrate these technologies and move fluidly between them, while easily troubleshooting issues. A strong accounting team will know which apps work together and put an end to a lot of manual processes you might have been using for years.
5. Can They Keep Up with Crypto, Blockchain, and Other Tech?
Ok, we'll be stereotypical here… accountants and finance people aren't known to be early adopters. They tend to move cautiously and dislike change. This type of conservatism doesn't work in a tech company, since things change fast, sometimes daily. Instead, your team needs to be able to turn on a dime or be your voice of reason as you make decisions. If your team is reluctant to make these changes and doesn’t help you vet them, you probably need a new team.
In short, you need to have as much confidence in your numbers as you do in your code. That requires a strong team supporting you on the accounting side. If they aren't keeping up with your big strategic picture, or even if they seem like they are struggling, it might be time to get them some support or start looking for a new team.
If you'd like to discuss your current accounting team and get our take on whether they are cutting it, contact us for a no-charge consultation.