Case Study: Using Communications Software to Troubleshoot Company Benefits Program

Propeller Health

“Fine Point is a fantastic partner for small- to mid-sized businesses as they integrate exceptionally well with our operations. Fine Point allows us to execute as if we had a much larger team to help to handle the unexpected as it occurs, which is critical for our business.”

David Hubanks, VP of Operations, Propeller Health

It’s never easy to switch from one employee benefits provider to another. This was particularly true for Propeller Health when, mid-transition, the company’s HR manager responsible for communicating the new benefits program was offered a position elsewhere and left the company. That’s when Propeller Health called on Fine Point Consulting, who was already acting as its outsourced accounting department, to step in and help troubleshoot questions and concerns from employees about the new provider. Using Slack, a team communication software program already in place at Propeller, Fine Point was able to communicate directly with employees about the new benefits system, address concerns, and respond to questions as they came up. Today, payroll and benefits are running in a way that gives the company peace of mind, and employees know that Fine Point is there to respond right away should questions or concerns arise.

Visit Fine Point Consulting for more information about the great tools and services we use to help businesses like Propeller Health succeed.

Software Scoop: ProRata

In this blog series, we review accounting, HR, and other software we use in our own office and/or on behalf of our clients. Check it out! You might just learn about a great new tool for your own business.

 

ProRata

Two things I always talk about when I chat with potential clients for Fine Point are 1) we are awesome at developing processes and workflow to best serve our customers and 2) we use cutting-edge software to help us deliver amazing accounting and CFO services.

One new-to-us software that we’ve just recently started using is ProRata, which provides automated deferred revenue recognition. It also integrates with Xero and QuickBooks, which is critical for streamlining with our current business and financial reporting processes.

In a nutshell, ProRata calculates and schedules revenue for SaaS and other subscription services, and reports on deferred revenue tracking. Revenue can be assigned by customer and revenue type, as well as parameters such as revenue start and end dates. It then enters those revenue numbers into QuickBooks, saving us hours of time.

Our assistant controller, Chelsea Stanton, has been using ProRata for one of our clients as a test run for the software and is already a fan. “Before I started using ProRata for this Fine Point client, I was using an Excel spreadsheet to track revenue. It was about 20 tabs long, and I had to update it manually based on monthly billing. I usually reserved about a day and half every month to enter revenue for all of my clients into Excel and QuickBooks, but I think using ProRata is going to save me many of these hours.”

ProRata also has a number of reporting features that we look forward to digging into, with easy-to-use graphs and charts that show things like monthly balances over time and how revenues are projected in the future. With its easily navigable, straightforward interface, ProRata is yet another cool tool we anticipate we’ll be using to deliver top-rate service to our clients for years to come.

 

 

Visit Fine Point Consulting for more information about the great tools and services we use to help businesses succeed.

Fine Point Meet & Greet: Allie LaFleur

Meet the Fine Point Consulting staff and learn a little bit about what makes them tick. This week: Accounting Manager Allie LaFleur.

 

Talk a little bit about your background and what drew you to accounting.

Allie LaFleurI earned my Associate’s degree in Business Management from Madison Area Technical College, along with some certificates in Small Business Entrepreneurship and Human Resources Management. Business Management was a nice, broad degree that would allow me to do any number of things, and the certificates were just something I added on. It’s great to have a little background in something like Human Resource Management when you’re an accountant and doing things like processing payroll, so those certificates have been helpful.

A few years later, with [Fine Point Owner] Luella [Schmidt’s] encouragement, I decided to go back to school at night to earn my Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Getting my bachelors was something I had always wanted to do, but it helped to have my boss encouraging me and cheering me on from the sidelines!

During this time, my husband and I also purchased a small business. To help save money, I assumed the bookkeeper role. A friend of mine helped me set up payroll and I learned QuickBooks on my own. It was a great first-hand experience that forced me not only to put my accounting classes to work and learn on the job, but it also gave me the perspective of being a small business owner and what that means for Fine Point clients.

As far as accounting, I enjoy figuring out a reconciliation that’s been stumping me. Accounting is one of those fields that there’s practically always a “right” way of doing things. You want to make sure your balances tie, for example. It’s a repetitive job, but there’s enough new stuff that comes up from month to month that keep you on your toes.

What is your role at Fine Point, and what do you enjoy about working there?

I started at Fine Point in 2011 as a staff accountant, where I oversaw reviewing profit and loss statements. Now, as Accounting Manager, I oversee some of the other accountants and am responsible for things like reviewing balance sheets; specifically, assets and liabilities.

Working at Fine Point has given me a lot of great experience working in a variety of industries. For example, this morning I’m doing some work for a nonprofit client, but this afternoon I will be working with a small personal fitness business we work with. Every day is like this, and I enjoy the variety. The culture at Fine Point is great, too. The people I work with here feel more like friends than coworkers. And Luella is a fantastic teacher. She’s not only a great accountant, but I’ve learned a ton from her about prioritizing and organizing work. She’s a pleasure to work for.

What’s something others may be surprised to learn about you?

I lived in Holland as a young child. My mom got a job as a teacher on a military base there. I was too young to learn the language and my parents weren’t immersed in the language when we were there, but my sister, who is two years older than I am, picked up the language very quickly through school there. Even though she was also quite young, she quickly became our family translator.

When you’re not working, you…

My husband and I just bought our first house in April, and we’re working on a never-ending list of household projects. And my sister just had the first grandchild in our family, so between the projects and visiting the new baby, that’s pretty much all we have time for!

 

Visit Fine Point Consulting to learn how our knowledgeable staff can help your business succeed.

Leaders & Influencers: Bill Neill

We’re kicking off 2017 with our interview with Bill Neill, Chief Strategy Officer for the recently launched Carex Consulting Group. Carex provides enterprise staffing solutions for startups to large-size companies specializing in health tech, project management, and information technology.

 

Tell us a little bit about Carex Consulting Group, what made you decide to launch it, and how it’s different from other staffing firms.

Bill NeillCarex was launched just recently, in December 2016, by myself, Mike Heller, and Rachel Neill. Rachel and I both worked most recently as an executive and consultant, respectively, at Nordic Consulting, and Mike was most recently the VP of Information Technology at Data Dimensions in Janesville.

We founded Carex because we saw a gap in staffing in the healthcare market around health tech, project management, and IT. There are other staffing firms in town that can find you an adequate implementation manager, for example, but as an employer, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time explaining the various intricacies around health tech and healthcare, as well as industry-specific standards and regulations around things like HL7, HIPAA, and cloud-based interfaces. We understand this industry and the talent side of the equation very well and have worked in it as employers and consultants for many years, so we can pull in talent specific to your business model and help shorten that ramp-up period of getting a new employee or consultant on board.

We also offer a more transparent business model than most staffing firms, which tend to have this very opaque system where they get the customer to pay as much as possible and pay the employee or consultant as little as possible. For consulting, Carex takes 1/3 of the bill rate and for full-time placement we take 20% of first year salary. That’s less expensive than the standard for this industry, but it’s something we can offer thanks to our specific backgrounds, expertise, and lean management strategy. Combined with finding talent that is tailored to their needs, our lower pricing structure helps us create a better partnership with our clients.

Why is Madison the ideal home for Carex, and what has the response been like to your business so far?

Madison has an incredible talent pool when it comes to health tech, project management, and IT. There’s a wealth of people here with those skill sets, and we thought there was an opportunity to build a diverse and talented ecosystem for healthcare here. And there are many great healthcare companies here looking for talent.

Our plan was to concentrate on servicing Madison and working with the talent here, and then phase two was going to be to find other skill hubs around the country and start doing something similar there. But in addition to working with clients in Madison, we already have clients in Milwaukee and Chicago, and we just signed a client on the east coast. I think that speaks to the need for us to own the talent side of health tech—it’s clearly a niche that’s underserved. We also anticipated we’d have more demand for consultants, but we’ve been surprised by the need for full-time talent. It’s all grown very organically, almost entirely by referral.

What’s the single most important change you’d like to see to encourage more innovation and entrepreneurship in our community?

I’d like for Madison to tie into the talent base here more by providing more opportunities for things like joint ventures, joint tech councils, and community forums. I’m originally from the San Francisco area and witnessed the tech boom of Silicon Valley right outside my back door. Part of that boom was the free flow of ideas—sharing those ideas and morphing them. There are so many bright people here with great ideas, but not all of them are extroverts who are going to share these ideas without the help of some mechanism or forum to do it. There’s great potential for expansion here in Madison, but we also need more of the big players to develop innovation and venture arms to foster this more open ecosystem.

Specific to the healthcare industry, there’s this very “vogue” notion of non-competes, so I also think we need less restrictive non-competes to help make this flow and sharing of ideas possible. When you look at a company like Salesforce, which is very ecosystem-driven and wants everyone to buy their platform and know how it works, it’s a 180 from what some of the vendors are doing, where they want you to purchase their tightly controlled platform and use it in a very specific manner. I think talent flow is a factor of that business model. The good news is that the healthcare industry is still booming and the talent of people is growing along with it. It’s an employee-friendly market and we’re seeing more healthcare companies courting talent. That’s been a big “aha” for me, and I think it can only help create an environment of more sharing and openness.

 

Visit Fine Point Consulting to learn more about how our outsourced accounting and CFO services can help your business succeed.

 

Leaders & Influencers: Jeff Glazer

In our final Leaders & Influencers post of the year, we chat with Jeff Glazer, clinical assistant professor with the University of Wisconsin Law School’s Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, which provides free legal services to nascent entrepreneurs and early stage companies through the work of law students, faculty, and private sector attorneys. 

Talk a little bit about what brought you to the Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic in 2011 and the work that you do there.

Jeff GlazerI started at the Clinic in a part-time capacity as a supervising attorney for the law students who were working with entrepreneurs. I had my own law office at the time, but the work they were doing at the Clinic was similar to what I was doing in my own practice, and it just seemed like a new and interesting overlap. As I continued my work there, I really started buying in to what [L&E Clinic cofounders] Eric Englund and Anne Smith were trying to do, which was to fill a market need for legal service where the only other options were self-service or no service.

As lawyers, we want people to be proactive in obtaining legal services, but we often price ourselves out of that opportunity. People tend to delay seeking legal services because they can’t afford them, even though they know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. At the L&E Clinic, we provide good legal services in a way that entrepreneurs can be legally proactive.

My own background is in the food and beverage industry, which is a big industry for Wisconsin and provides a good opportunity for entrepreneurship. So I’ve been concentrating on this area and thinking about how the many pieces of the food and beverage industry can work together in a more holistic way. I’m taking more of a leadership role in bringing these disparate food and beverage companies together, beyond just providing legal services. There are real opportunities in this sector, but there are also real monetary challenges to getting these types of businesses started.

What kind of entrepreneurs does the L&E Clinic work with? Do you specialize in any particular industry?

To be eligible to work with the clinic, you only have to be in the first couple of years of your business. If you meet that definition, it doesn’t matter to us if you’re a food cart or a high-tech spin-off company from the university—or anything in between. There are varying levels of service we provide depending on what it is the business needs. For those companies who are most interested into growing into something bigger, we can get them connected with a range of providers, services, and individuals that can help them do that. And we can play the role of quarterback to help those same companies survey the field and think about the things they need to do to move the ball. We don’t do this in every instance, but for companies that want it, we do provide that handheld, integrated type of service.

Any new or continued initiatives the L&E Clinic has been working on over the past year?

We’re working on an ongoing basis with tightening our relationship with [coworking space and seed accelerator] Madworks. It’s an interesting work in progress. As Madworks is starting to take more of a governance-related direction, we’re finding more opportunities for students to get involved with clients while they’re going through the accelerator.

We also moved into the @1403 startup hub about a year ago, and it’s been exciting being in that space. The organizations that have found a home here—Discovery to Product (D2P), Madworks, gBETA, the L&E Clinic—weren’t necessarily planned for this space but have gravitated and grown here organically, which really has made @1403 more effective for entrepreneurs. It’s cool to be part of the space and activity that goes on there.

What’s the single most important change you’d like to see to encourage more innovation and entrepreneurship in our community?

I think we need to have a broader discussion about what is and isn’t entrepreneurship. When people think of entrepreneurship, they tend to think about the big high-tech companies that want to grow like crazy. I think we need to bring it down and understand that entrepreneurship doesn’t only mean big and high-tech. You can be a graphic designer or a VP of Marketing who provides independent services and you’re an entrepreneur too. I think there need to be more discussions and services around supporting entrepreneurship in all its forms. These smaller businesses may not have a huge opportunity for growth, but there’s also not a huge opportunity for risk. I want to support the woodshop or food cart owner and help them make connections so they can solve whatever challenge or problem in the world that they’re trying to solve. At its heart, that’s what entrepreneurship is all about.

 

Visit Fine Point Consulting to learn more about how our outsourced accounting and CFO services can help your business succeed.