How San Jose Water Co. Keeps the Financial Close Flowing
May 10, 2018 | By Blake Oliver
Wendy Walker, VP of Finance, Controller and Assistant Treasurer at San Jose Water Company, sat down with me to talk about her team’s experience using FloQast's close management software for organizing and streamlining their monthly close. Check out the video above, or read the edited transcript below.
What led your company to consider using FloQast?
While we were doing the close in four days, it was tough for one person [in particular], and that's the person who had the job of taking the Excel spreadsheet where all the journal entries are listed, and take stacks [of paper], and go through the Excel spreadsheet and check off [items]. That one person was holding all of that workload on top of the entries that she needed to do [herself].
And the other piece was, we didn't have the discipline we needed to make sure we were getting [all] the reconciliations done after the close. In talking about that with my husband, who is also a controller, he said, "You should look at FloQast," and so we did.
For me, the two biggest things that came out of that implementation for us were [first], everybody having their own accountability to go in and sign off on their entries, and second, it solidified the process of reconciling all of the balance sheet accounts — and in a timely manner, so that by the 12th or 13th of the month we're done, we're buttoned up, and it leaves us that chunk of time at the end of the month to work on those projects that we want to get done in terms of automation.
What led you to choose FloQast? Did you look at any alternative solutions?
We did. They were not as intuitive. Some, you weren't able to use Excel, which is just not on the table for us. The majority of our reconciliations were already set up in Excel. And you got the benefit of the close and the reconciliations which was really key.
Does FloQast’s Excel-integrated approach benefit your company?
We are largely an Excel-driven environment in accounting, so we really needed something where we weren't going to have to give that up. I'm not even sure I can fathom how we would have addressed that.
What was your experience with implementing FloQast?
Fantastic, really good. I think we have a little bit of added complexity with multiple companies staging for us. There's certain entries that have to go first before other ones can occur. We definitely have an order that things need to happen, so we had to make sure we had that staged correctly.
What qualitative and/or quantitative benefits have you experienced as a result of using FloQast?
Definitely we have one employee who’s not as stressed out from being the person that had to do all that checking off and be the bad guy and say, "Mmm, your entry was due on day two and we're now day three and it's not there. What's the status?" That's all done in FloQast now. There’s no more bad guy. It's all there for us to see, for me to see, and it's not necessarily that it's a bad thing. There may be a legitimate reason why the entry is held up and we need to understand that and know that.
The reconciliation part, [the benefit] for me, [is] being able to go in and see where we're at on all of those and be able to understand if there is something that's lagging behind, why is that happening? [It’s a benefit] for all of the employees in the accounting department to see that view of what everybody's doing. And then the analytic part is fantastic. It allows you to see pain points in the close, and [gives] an opportunity to have that discussion within the group if we need to move things around to help smooth out that lag.
Would you recommend FloQast to other companies? If so, what would you say?
I definitely would. [It’s] a tool that allows you to monitor that close [and] where everybody stands in the process. That just makes your close and the accuracy of your financial statements even stronger.