There's a lot of look-back involved in accounting. We document the month-end close, or last quarter, or last year. But clients who look at financials only in this way — who see just the end number or the cash balance — never get a real picture of what their business is about.
At Supporting Strategies, our job as providers of bookkeeping and accounting services is to help clients not only look back, but also figure out how to go forward. And one of the best tools I've seen to assist with that critical mission comes from a company called Fathom.
Tracking Your KPIs in Real Time
So what does Fathom do? To quote from the company's website: "Whether you call it business intelligence, performance management, or analytics, the goal of Fathom is the same: to help you understand what's happening in your business, and how to take action when needed."
Basically, Fathom is a cloud-based resource that tracks key performance indicators (KPIs) in real time. Just sync it with QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop, and you can instantly assess your company's profitability, cash flow and growth.
I first learned about Fathom from Supporting Strategies Founder and CEO Leslie Jorgensen. She recommended it when I had to consolidate two companies. In addition to expediting the process, Fathom transformed me into an analyst who could advise the client on how to achieve their goals once the consolidation was complete. And Fathom isn’t strictly a tool for consolidations; the analytics help anyone who wants a better understanding of their business.Fathom is particularly useful with companies that have a CEO who is not a financial person — which is fairly common. With Fathom, CEOs can look at the ratios that are important to them, in a form that's easy to understand. All they have to do is check their dashboard. Fathom can sort by different priorities, such as Perspective, Result or Importance. Ratios are broken down into clear categories, such as Customer (New Customer/Lost Customer), Efficiency (Return on Capital Employed/Return on Assets) and Activity (Accounts Payable Days/Accounts Receivable Days). Simple color-coding lets you know at a glance where your company stands at that moment (green is good, red is bad).
Never Let the Numbers Surprise You Again
Little things like real-time reporting can have a huge impact on a company's future. That's especially true with small businesses, where the owner is often so consumed with the day-to-day details of running the company that he or she doesn't recognize big-picture problems until it's too late.
With Fathom on your side, there's less chance of that happening to you. Along with real-time reporting, Fathom offers alerts. So if your business happens to miss a vital benchmark, you'll know about it right away — when there's still time to react.