We’ve talked previously about our mission at Spotlight Reporting - to not only transform the account industry through the easy sharing of critical data in an understandable format, but to help business owner achieve better outcomes along the way. Clarity leads to better decisions, better strategies and downstream benefits like faster growth, higher profits, as well as greater investment in our entrepreneurial sectors.
Not many accountants and advisors would argue with the mission, but deploying software to achieve these goals just isn’t second nature to many in the profession. We understand that, which is why we have:
1. Training videos at our Spotlight TV channel
2. Live webinars and;
3. Shared some thought leadership in previous blog-posts
So getting a base level of proficiency is a great starting point, but how should you get hands-on for successful deployment right from the start?
Firstly, remember that you have choice with the Spotlight Reporting tool-set. I designed four tools for a purpose - so accountants and users could choose ‘best fit’, but also because the four tools range across the breadth of need in a typical cloud accounting practice. I know, having used all tools across our own client base for many years - they work, but each in different ways.
Secondly, create a simple one-page Spotlight Deployment Plan involving your key people. Ask us for help and we are happy to share our insight and experience with you.
Thirdly, work alongside our talented and highly experienced in-market and Product/Support teams. They are there to help you with on-boarding, growing expertise, as well as a positive experience with the software.
Starting at the ‘easy’ end, Dashboard is the quick, easy and extremely cost-effective way to get business intelligence to your smaller customers and start-ups. Dashboard options are powerful, visual and readily understandable.
Getting proficient in Dashboards should be a same-day proposition. It really is straight-forward and auto-magic in the vast majority of cases.
Dashboard is now widely used at year-end as a free “thanks for being a client” option, or more regularly around GST/VAT/BAS cycles. Power-users have Dashboard locked and loaded on a monthly basis, sometimes for free initially but over time as a paid ‘mentoring lite’ service.
Dashboard is the gateway to more detailed and robust reporting options. This is where business intelligence sings.
Spotlight Reporting remains our most popular tool with both accountants and direct business users. It’s mix of data, visuals and multi-faceted data-streams has proven popular for growing businesses, those that are smart around strategy, clarity and who value good decision-making and sound governance. This should be all businesses to be honest, but if you target Reporting at the best 20% of your client base then it should be a real conversation-starter (at least!).
It’s great to get the team trained up on Reporting and thinking about which data streams, charts and pages make the most sense. Don’t forget too to use our auto-text Executive Summary whilst also rolling in useful and relevant advice. A Spotlight Report (or any report for that matter) without an Executive Summary of highlights and recommendations is like a meal without enough seasoning - good, but not as great as it could be!
At our firm, we used Spotlight Reporting every month with our top 10 clients. We were able to complete multi-page, insightful reports in 1 hour max, which allowed us to create a lot of value in a short amount of time. Then presenting the Spotlight face to face become the next valuable interaction, leading to lots of client engagement and follow-on work.
If you’re just starting out with Spotlight Reporting, perhaps focus on 3 clients initially. Remember you can replicate the templates created, so it makes sense to choose clients who are similar to others so you can really leverage any effort you make on specific templates. We can also take the pain away, as we have an affordable template-building service, headed up by our Product Expert - Nik George.
With Reporting, focus in on the “aha” aspects of the report. Maybe this will be the Cash High/Low results and projections, the Top 10 OPEX chart, the Google Analytics or WorkflowMax analysis, the medium-term Profit trend or the KPI donut. For every client it will be a different mix, but just a small amount of pre-analysis will enable you to be a guide and interpreter for your clients.
If you need multi-currency consolidation (particularly for closely-held groups), Reporting is your tool as well. We have videos and more to share on this important accounting process.
Our third tool in the armoury is Spotlight Forecasting. Currently, this is a simple hybrid forecaster that surfaces a Profit & Loss Forecast with Balance Sheet movements included to show Cash on Hand. Simple, easy and the perfect way to get clients or your own business firmly focussed on the future.
We’re thrilled that our Forecasting v2 is now in beta - and ‘wowing’ the firms involved. You’ll hear more about this soon, but we’re hoping that there will be no need to maintain grisly desktop software or dabble with light-weight cloud alternatives in the near future.
We love that more and more decision-makers are thinking about forecasting and cash. It’s my view that every client of substance (you will have to define that for yourselves!) deserves a cashflow forecast and some insight on how to safeguard and improve this business ‘lifeblood’. If you’re running a business, demand one.
Our forecasting experience, tips and tricks will be shared alongside our v2 launch, so watch this space!
Spotlight Multi was released in 2013 and we were thrilled that it was nominated as Add-On of the Year soon after. Multi is great for:
Industry segmentation and comparison
- Franchises who want to rank and benchmark
- Not-for-Profits who need a consolidated view and complete transparency; and
- Financial advisors or property investors who deal with like-for-like.
Multi won’t be needed by everyone, but it is certainly proving its worth for the heavy-lifting required by multi-entity organisations. You can find out more here.
So to recap:
- Get hands-on, don’t hesitate
- Obtain basic proficiency through webinars and videos
- Develop a one-page Deployment Plan - we’re happy to help
- Choose the right tools - and don’t be afraid to mix and match as client needs dictate (we have a popular SuperVCFO offer to allow you unlimited use of Reporting, Dashboards and Forecasting)
- Think of the most powerful report elements for ‘aha’ moments and great conversations
- Consider template replication, consolidation and more. Go deep.
Remember if you need help, do contact us.
We look forward to you achieving maximum effect with our software tools soon!
Richard Francis - CEO