Article

CFO Focus: Why Your Accounting Software Needs to Engage Managers Beyond Financial Staff

young business woman working with data on a computer
By Joe Ludlow 

4 minutes

Sharing filtered browser-based data dashboards with managers throughout the credit union empowers good decision-making across the organization.

In our “data is king” world, it is imperative that individuals beyond the CFO are aware of certain information about their management group within the credit union. This is particularly true for accounting data within the mortgage department. Having accounting data about mortgages empowers managers and loan officers to make insightful decisions. But too much can lead to data overload and become ineffective. 

This begs the question—how do CFOs manage accounting software used by other individuals at the credit union? 

It Starts With Breaking Down the Silos

Historically, accounting data was processed and compiled by the credit union’s accounting department. Senior accounting staff and financial analysts would then present the reports to upper management. 

Unfortunately, this model left the flow of data to be controlled by just a few accounting and other senior managers. But with modern technology and intuitively built tools, credit unions can break down silos and drive data deeper into the organization. 

With today’s technology, mortgage managers and executives can see a filtered version of their data in real time. CFOs must ensure that controls are built into the way the system compiles data, using various automation capabilities. When data flows in from outside sources, such as the credit union’s loan production systems, the accounting system checks for errors and alerts the accounting team. 

The corrected data then becomes instantly available to various managers and executives based on their areas of oversight and what they are entitled to know about their branch’s or department’s income. Using such a “filtered flow” model, senior managers know more about the details of specific loans or the branch’s overall income than the retail branch manager . But the fact that everyone involved has at least some data about the way the department is working allows  your team to work together in real time, across various departments. The real-time reporting of filtered data allows for faster decisions and adjustments. 

To get to this, administrators must create settings that give various managers the access to see some, but not necessarily all, of the data for their loans. Administrators can grant access to as much or as little of the data to anyone they wish, depending on their position. 

The User Experience Is Just as Important as the Borrower Experience

CFOs must look for modern technology that goes beyond just providing a filtered version of data—the data they give to CU team members must be intuitive and deliver an experience to employees that’s similar to the web-based dashboard experience delivered to the credit union’s members. 

To achieve this, CFOs should leverage accounting technology with browser-based reporting systems that engage both non-accounting managers and executives. Employees will be encouraged to use dashboards and reports that are easy to use, intuitive and meaningful. The capability to drill down and through the data should be obvious and effective. 

Additionally, all of these design features must be combined to entice the end user—in this case, a branch or executive manager at the credit union—to actually use the system. In turn, these managers engage with branch financial data, making them more aware, data-driven managers. 

Employee Engagement Is Critical for Employee Retention

Not only does providing filtered data through a browser-based dashboard help make employees more effective, it also supports job satisfaction. In today’s hyper-competitive environment, employee retention tops the charts as a priority for many organizations, including credit unions. In fact, a study by Future Workplace and Kronos found that employee retention was the biggest priority and concern for many businesses, with nearly 90% of HR managers saying it is their top focus. 

In response, organizations across every industry are looking for tools and methods to keep their staff satisfied. Unfortunately, efforts to do so are occasionally sent to the back seat, with member service and process efficiencies cutting ahead. 

The true solution, however, lies in technology that satisfies all three. Technology that better engages managers will always lead to stronger job satisfaction and retention, which produces greater efficiencies, all the way to member service. 

It All Circles Back to Better Member Service 

Ultimately, when sales and branch managers—the people who actually interact with members— are engaged by technology, they are able to make better decisions with each borrower. While many of today’s technology innovations are aimed at improving the member experience, breaking down silos and engaging mangers with branch financial data is a tremendous opportunity for mortgage bankers to also have an equally great experience. As a result, better service and guidance is delivered to the member. 

Joe Ludlow is vice president for Irvine, Calif-based Advantage Systems, a provider of accounting and financial management tools for the mortgage industry.

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