User functionality

 

What does the Cloud CFO solution provide?

 

Cloud CFO offers a novel and powerful solution for group finance facing the chore of a slow manual consolidation process using spreadsheets. It enables you to:

  • Accelerate the financial close
  • Significantly reduce cost
  • Eliminate reliance on software vendors
  • Allow control to remain within the finance team

Cloud CFO automates the integration of financial data from multiple entities so that group finance can see a unified, consolidated set of management or statutory accounts.

We provide a dynamic comparison of current, historical, forecast and budget financials, giving management a clear overall view of the financial performance and positioning of the group.

 

Why is it different?

 

Cloud CFO is based on ground-breaking research and development work funded by the UK Government’s investment in SMART technologies. Our innovative technology is currently in use at leading banks and retailers.

At first glance, the solution looks and feels exactly like working with a set of normal spreadsheets. However, each of these spreadsheets is enhanced by a connection to our secure Cloud CFO Server.

As each member of the finance team changes data in their local spreadsheet, updates are synchronised in the Cloud. This ensures that every other member in the team sees the same up to date ‘single version of the truth’.

Our Cloud CFO customers tell us that the most important benefit is that they can apply their years of expertise along with the flexibility of their existing spreadsheets to create a perfectly customised and high-powered model for their unique needs.

Other immediate benefits include:

  • Automation of a previously manual process so that finance can focus on more valuable tasks
  • Consolidation complete in minutes rather than days
  • Comprehensive inbuilt auditing so that the financial information is reliable and accurate

Technical Requirements

 

Microsoft Excel 2007 or later, no special software is required.

What does it cost?

 

Cloud CFO is available as a monthly OPEX fee per user. This fee covers comprehensive expert support and service.

Cloud CFO in action

 

In group accounting processes, each entity (a division or subsidiary) needs to submit financial data to the group finance team at regular intervals. These entities are often spread out internationally, making the process more complicated.

We provide a Cloud server that each of them connects to via a simple spreadsheet interface. This Cloud server is fed all of the data from the entities. It simultaneously translates the various local formats to a group chart of accounts whilst managing consolidation entries such as elimination entities and other custom adjustments.

All of the data is available for group finance to view immediately upon submission to the server, meaning  they are able to see a real-time consolidated position of the group. This enables management to make reliable, effective and informed decisions.

Functionality

 

One benefit of the Cloud CFO approach is that the finance team can take immediate control of modifying the fine details of the financial consolidation process and associated adjustments, such as defining their currency conversion logic. All of these functions can be constructed using familiar spreadsheet logic, but Cloud CFO goes further by ensuring these formulae and business rules are stored in the Cloud and reapplied each time to ensure uniformity. All customisations and changes are supported by the full audit history stored securely in our Cloud server. Cloud CFO has three broad functions for the different roles in the finance team: administration, Entity and group finance.

Audit Trail

 

Every single change submitted to our Cloud CFO server is logged, both for accounts and administrative data.

Available audit reports include:

  • Exception reports – e.g. which entity has or has not submitted data
  • User postings – to allow a review of who has done what and when
  • Bespoke reports – Every change in the database is recorded in the Cloud so reports can be written and generated as the group finance team require.

The user experience

 

The user view is a simple spreadsheet connected to the cloud server and enhanced by an additional Cloud CFO Toolbar.

Features include:

Login/logout
Sync
More
Receive
Validate

The user experience is further enhanced by a right click menu and user ribbon which allows the individual to easily navigate the actions that have been assigned to them. You can easily submit trial balance data to group for consolidation.

 

Administration

 

The administration user has the ability to:

  • Enter the group organisation structure and reporting hierarchy
  • Define users, their roles and what aspects of the system they can see and interact with
  • Define the mappings from the entity chart of accounts to group format
  • Define the format of reports, e.g. profit and loss account
  • Define the business rules used to ensure data quality
  • Manage the audit trail system

Mapping entity to group

 

Cloud CFO is able to use the international standard iXBRL to map entity accounts to the group format chart of accounts; tagged accounts are produced as a by-product of this process. This means that companies are provided with compliant statutory accounts that meet the requirements of both Companies House and HMRC.

Mapping is entirely user-defined and simplified by the spreadsheet interface, ensuring that the complexity of iXBRL is hidden whilst its benefits are leveraged.

 

Defining report format

 

Editing this sheet will change the layout and content of the report to meet group requirements.

The business rules

 

The business rules refer to spreadsheet columns by name rather than column letter. The column name is      contained between “#” symbols. This means the rules are tolerant to columns changing position – Cloud CFO understands when you change column names and repairs the links.

Changes made are stored in the server and shared with each user the next time they press ‘Sync’.

Entity

 

The entity user has the ability to:

  • Submit trial balance data
  • Submit forecast/budgetary data
  • If access rights are given:
  • Input/amend consolidation adjustments
  • Run financial reports
  • Run audit reports

Group can designate which functions and data are available for each user to view and modify.

Once mapping is complete, the template is set up to understand the local accounting data formats and extract the relevant information for group reporting.

Submission of data

 

For management accounts reporting, the data submitted will typically be in trial balance format. This will be exported from the current local finance software – e.g. Sage – into a CSV file. Other data may include budget, forecast and cash flow information, dependent on group reporting requirements.

Group

 

The group finance function supports cash-flow, budgeting and forecasting at entity and group level.

A group user has the ability to:

  • View the trial balances from all of the entities in both their original format (local currency) as they are exported from the local accounting system and in group format (after mapping and currency conversions)
  • Produce/run financial statements and other reports at both entity and consolidated level
  • Input and amend consolidation adjustments

Once all entities have uploaded their data and the consolidation adjustments have been posted, group users see an accurate, real time group position.

Reports

Standard available reports include a profit and loss account as seen in Diagram G, balance sheet and cash-flow statement. The reports can be run on historical, current, budget or forecast data and are built to your design at the set-up phase.

Bespoke reports can be built using an intuitive interface. Any data entered at entity level can be compiled at group level. This could, for example, include KPIs such as the number of units sold.

Group may wish to apply sophisticated spreadsheet logic that is unique to their own organisation. Cloud CFO provides rich support for this.

Cloud CFO is able to use the international standard iXBRL to map entity accounts to the group format chart of accounts; tagged accounts are produced as a by-product of this process. This means that companies are provided with compliant statutory accounts that meet the requirements of both Companies House and HMRC.

Mapping is entirely user-defined and simplified by the spreadsheet interface, ensuring that the complexity of iXBRL is hidden whilst its benefits are leveraged.

 

Summary

 

Put simply: we solve the problem of automating the consolidation of entity financial data to produce group management reporting and statutory financial statements.

We built Cloud CFO to fit the requirements of our customers and to meet their specific needs. We did this by taking a novel approach to the problems associated with the financial close.

The difference in our approach stems from countless customers expressing their dissatisfaction with the traditional ‘solutions’ that are made available to them, i.e. buying inflexible software and then having to change their business processes to fit that software. These customers explained that they have reverted to using spreadsheets to regain the fine control they need to manage the close, despite being fully aware of the immense inefficiencies involved in that approach.

Through research and development, we have taken the basic spreadsheet and connected it to our Cloud server so it becomes capable of matching or exceeding the capabilities of any rigid traditional software package.

This means the finance team are able to concentrate on using the very familiar spreadsheet interface to customise whatever adjustments or business rules they require, confident in the knowledge that the server will deliver all of the much needed security, audit and data quality that had been missing previously.