Multiple forecasts with Power Query

I recently set up a management accounts model using Power Query to combine multiple forecasts.

This is for a startup charity, where we need the ability to forecast at a high level over a five year period but to be able to update that quickly based on current decisions. We also need to do a detailed six monthly forecast for cash flow purposes. We also want to approve changes on a quarterly basis. Finally, we want to be able to assess the quality of our forecasting so that we can continue to improve it.

Continue reading “Multiple forecasts with Power Query”

Yes, Xero is a good accounting system for charities

Even small charities can have big complexities when it comes to choosing and using accounting systems.

There are two issues in particular which can be hard for charities to deal with on many accounting systems. The first is VAT partial exemption. Charities may have a mix of exempt income (grants, donations) and taxable income (eg selling goods or running a cafe). This means that they cannot reclaim all of their VAT and have to do “partial exemption” calculations.

Continue reading “Yes, Xero is a good accounting system for charities”

Carbon accounting – what gets measured gets done

Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

I hadn’t done much with carbon accounting in my professional life before 2020. It’s only mandatory for the largest companies and organisations so hasn’t been a requirement for me. But focussing on my personal carbon footprint this year has made me determined to bring carbon accounting into my professional life.

Continue reading “Carbon accounting – what gets measured gets done”

Why is month end such a hassle?

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

“Well, you know, it is month end”, I say, and colleagues nod sympathetically and steer clear for a while. For most non-finance types, it’s a mysterious process that seems to cause a lot of stress. For finance types, it is a beast to be tamed.

By “month end” or “month end close”, I’m referring to the process by which a month (or other period) is brought to an end in the financial system. This means trying to get the numbers as accurate as possible for some sort of eventual output. This could be management accounts, a report for a funder, a VAT return or just the sense of achievement and closure.

It means making sure you have accounted for all the expenditure and income for that month. Depending on the organisation you may also carry out certain “month end” tasks such as calculating depreciation, reconciling the bank and other balance sheet accounts.

In this post I set out a few things to consider which might make a month end less stressful.

Continue reading “Why is month end such a hassle?”

Managing stress at work – what can employers do?

Managing stress at work is the responsibility of employers, and yet most search results on this topic focus on what employees should be doing to manage their own stress.

However, a couple of years ago I came across this guidance from the Health and Safety Executive. I think this, and in particular, the “Six Management Standards” is a really helpful tool for employers to assess and address the causes of stress at work.

Continue reading “Managing stress at work – what can employers do?”

Automating management accounts with Power Query

Power Query gives you many more tools beyond standard Excel for automating management accounts. This post sets out some points to consider. It is not intended as a step-by-step guide, because one size does not fit all, and the path you take will vary depending on what you want to report and your source data.

However, the key message is that Power Query makes complex and lengthy transformations really easy, and completely repeatable. Whatever you want to do, you can do it better with Power Query.

Continue reading “Automating management accounts with Power Query”

It’s not where you work, it’s how you work that matters.

I read a really great article a few weeks ago. Headlined “Why we need the office and why you might not realise it“, I agreed and disagreed with parts of it with equal vehemence.

In fact, it was often the same point I was agreeing with and disagreeing with. For example, I agree that human connection is really really really really important. However, I’m increasingly convinced that most offices are not automatically conducive to quality connections and fulfilling relationships. And I say this as an extrovert who really needs to be around people and values lots of casual interactions. That is, offices are designed around my needs as it is.

Continue reading “It’s not where you work, it’s how you work that matters.”

Useless Controls

A company seal is a useless control
A company seal aka a useless control. Photo by 戸山 神奈 on Unsplash

Because I was once an auditor, I have an obsession with useless controls. This is where an organisation makes you do something which they think is providing some kind of internal control. However, when you think about it in more depth, you realise it isn’t providing any control at all.

Some examples of useless controls

I had locked myself out of the online portal for an old pension scheme. I rang up and gave my account number. They asked for my full address as a security measure before they reset my account.

Continue reading “Useless Controls”