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Controller Services Explained | Supporting Strategies

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What Are Controller Services?

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What are controller services and does your business need them? Learn how you can make informed decisions, control costs and more with controller services.

You've probably heard of vendors that offer bookkeeping and controller services for small businesses. While you probably have a good grasp of what a bookkeeper does — especially if you've ever tried to do the books yourself — you might be less clear on what a controller does.

Good Question — And Here's the Answer
Investopedia provides a good, thorough definition of what a controller does. It reads in part: "The controller has many tasks which might include preparing budgets and managing important budgeting schedules throughout an organization. This includes the collection, analysis and consolidation of financial data. ... The controller reports material budgeting variances or expenditure variances to management."

Specifically, a controller can:

  • Deliver monthly financial management data, including the balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement.
  • Share easy-to-understand financial insight with cash reporting, budget vs. actual analysis and a key performance indicators dashboard.
  • Establish a bookkeeping system and process.
  • Refine and streamline current Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable processes.
  • Oversee bookkeeping and financial work.
  • Provide segregation of duties.
  • Work with your CPA to ensure bookkeeping-related compliance.
  • Work with your CPA to field requests and help prepare for tax season and audits.

Investopedia offers a tidy summary: "A controller acts as an overseer of a company's financial health."

Now You Know What It Means — But What Does It Mean?
Any company, regardless of its size, can benefit from outsourced bookkeeping and controller support. To understand why, let's outline what the role might look like at a typical small business.

Let's say you have been operating for several years and are doing quite well. You're thinking of opening a second location but are having trouble developing a framework for taking such a huge step. Would expansion push your business to the next level — or cause the bottom to drop out?

This is where the coordinated effort of bookkeeping and controller services could really help. Professional bookkeeping ensures you have accurate, up-to-date financial data. Controller services then interpret that data to provide actionable information.

In the scenario above, for instance, a controller could calculate the expected cost of opening a new location — including rent, utilities and employment costs relative to your current location — as well as any economies of scale you might be able to leverage in order to drive an informed decision.

Helping You Take Control
And that's just one example of the benefits that a one-two combination of bookkeeping support and controller services can provide to small businesses. In essence, you'll have trained professionals who continually provide insights about where you're making the most money — or losing the most money — and enable you to change your strategy accordingly.

Controller services can also improve accuracy, reduce manual processes and eliminate redundancy by streamlining your bookkeeping systems. This can be extremely helpful in that expansion scenario because it would ensure the new location would be on the same page as your initial location and use all of the same systems.

Another key benefit of controller services is that they help prevent fraud by instituting best practices such as segregation of duties. In this case, it's helpful to work with a firm that offers both bookkeeping and controller services so you can be sure that at least two people are working on your account at all times. Research has shown that fraud is often a crime of opportunity — segregation of duties eliminates those opportunities by placing at least two sets of eyes on all of your financial instruments.

Taking Definitive Action
Now that you know all a controller can do for your small business, why would you continue to go without one?

At Supporting Strategies, our experienced, U.S.-based professionals use secure, best-of-breed technology and a proven process to provide a full suite of bookkeeping and controller services. Are you ready to learn how you can move your business forward? Contact Supporting Strategies today.

Dawn Gerber

Author:

Dawn Gerber

Dawn Gerber, Managing Director, Supporting Strategies | Bradenton, Sarasota & Port Charlotte, FL, provides bookkeeping and controller services to growing businesses.

Legal and Tax Disclaimer

This website is created by Supporting Strategies to provide general bookkeeping and accounting information only. Supporting Strategies does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and the information contained herein is not intended to do so. As such, the information provided should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, legal, and accounting advisors, and you should consult with a tax, legal and accounting professional before engaging in any transaction.