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Controller Q&A: Ask These 5 Questions First

by | May 3, 2018

Performance in the Family Office As accounting has grown ever more important the role of the controller has grown as well. In addition to being sound financial stewards and effective organizational managers, they must also play a crucial strategic role. Controllers who are able to generate actionable, in-depth insights out of vast financial data give their companies a distinct strategic advantage.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true as well. Companies with an ineffective controller or a disorganized accounting department struggle to hold ground let alone gain an edge. That is why it’s incumbent on all CFOs to explore the effectiveness of controllers. Get the answers you need by asking these 5 questions first:

1 – What Role Do Manual Processes Play in the Closing Process?

The closing period is fast-paced and the consequences of mistakes and omissions are high. That is why manual processes should be avoided as much as possible. They are incredibly inefficient and create a high probability of error. Controllers who are too dependent on manual processes must adapt to the data-driven demands of modern accounting and consider the advantages of automation.

2 – What is the Company’s Regulatory Risk Exposure?

Most compliance issues flow through the controller’s office. This professional is in a unique position to understand the company’s risk exposure and mitigate the consequences of non-compliance. This role is especially important in companies that are expanding into new markets or territories. If a controller is unable to answer this question adequately it’s evidence of uncertainty and instability.

3 – How Long Does it Take to Close the Books?

When the year-end close takes too long due to lack of resources or internal inefficiencies it forces companies to be reactive. Since insights are slow to discover, companies are left looking backward rather than forward. If the close is determined to take too long it’s essential to identify the stumbling blocks and make speed (and accuracy) the top priorities.

4 – Is Excel Still a Commonly-Used Tool?

Excel spreadsheets were great for their time but have largely lost their utility in accounting. They are simply too outdated and underpowered to make managing huge financial data sets feasible. Even if other accounting tools have been introduced, controllers and their teams may still rely on Excel simply out of familiarity. Investigating how deep the issues runs says a lot about whether a controller is agile or entrenched.

5 – Do Financial Data and Operational Metrics Integrate?

Accounting departments are no longer isolated and specialized. It’s the controller’s job to make financial insights available to all departments and stakeholders. That is only possible and useful when financial data and operational metrics integrate easily, creating a 360-degree perspective on operations. Ask the controller how much of this data is integrated, how easy it is to integrate, and whether the integration continues in real time?

Getting to the heart of the problem is important, but the ultimate goal is to find solutions. We encourage all readers to download this free white-paper and explore the questions above in-depth. When you’re ready to have a one-to-one conversation about empowering the controller and optimizing accounting, contact InCloud360.