The Irish Times Group Keeps its Finger on the Pulse with AccountsIQ
When The Irish Times Group acquired The Examiner Group in 2018, the enlarged group comprised a significant number of distinct business units. With a vision of creating a more modern workplace while reducing costs, the company wanted to move away from on-premise, multi-location systems and selected cloud financial management software AccountsIQ. Group CFO, Mikie Sheehan describes how time and resources have been recovered by simplifying processes and reporting.
One of the benefits of bringing a group together is to drive synergies in the cost base as we re-engineer how we operate day-to-day. Systems automation is the real prize and AccountsIQ is enabling us to realise these operational goals,” says Mikie Sheehan.
Moving onto AccountsIQ financial management platform brings “twofold” savings
Reflecting on the benefits of replacing legacy systems, Mikie says, “The savings with AccountsIQ are twofold. Firstly, we are saving costs but we also have ongoing savings through the streamlining of our processes.”
Describing how the simplicity of the system provides him with greater control and saves precious time, Mikie adds,
It’s intuitive enough that it’s easy for me to run a report or get a quick snapshot on performance at any stage throughout the month. Personally, I have more visibility, I can ask more questions, I can drill down into the detail and it’s simple to do all this in AccountsIQ. It has made a real change to our reporting processes. The consolidation functionality is also a huge asset within the system and significantly reduces month-end close to allow us to get that Group view immediately”
The Accounts Payable process has changed “dramatically”
With an estimated 12,000 invoices being processed a year, automating this process first seemed an obvious way to achieve real, measurable efficiency in a short space of time.
Summarising how AccountsIQ ticked many of the system requirements, Mikie adds,
The automation within AccountsIQ when it comes to things like Bank Reconciliation is really slick, and its ability to integrate document scanning and storage gives us end-to-end automation and a paperless Accounts Payable process. It has dramatically changed the way we work.”
Due to AccountsIQ’s existing integration with advanced document scanning software Kefron AP, the Accounts Payable element was created quickly, and means they now have paperless approval of invoices. “In the current environment, where the team has been working remotely over the past 15 months, the ability to capture, analyse, distribute for approval, review and pay suppliers with all the information gathered in the one place has been a significant capacity driver for the finance team.”
Integrating advertising sales data is vital
The business relies heavily on sales data gathered in their advertising booking system, provided by another vendor, which is intertwined with their finance and reporting mechanisms. Back-office integration with both systems was an essential part of the vision of a more efficient future.
AccountsIQ’s integration with the ad booking system includes functionality that generates all weekly invoicing and manages adjustments. It also makes an up-to-the-minute credit status of every account visible to the sales team and automates a rules-based process for issuing dunning letters. With different letters designed to be released at different times, it removes the admin-heavy and error-prone end of the process, vitally supporting cash flow.
Partnership approach to digitally transforming The Irish Times Group
Much of the success of the project comes from a partnership approach to designing and implementing the system and building a feasible roadmap together with the other software suppliers involved. In total there were four main systems and six others that needed to be integrated with AccountsIQ. AccountsIQ’s open API has made this task a lot easier.
With AccountsIQ, we get a real sense of proactiveness and solving problems together. No system that you buy off the shelf is going to be an exact fit. AccountsIQ worked with us to find ways of marginally reconfiguring the system to meet our requirements,” says Mikie.
“AccountsIQ’s implementation support is very pro-active in its response times. We have had a consistent team supporting us throughout, they are nimble and solution-oriented in their approach and work hard to understand our business, which has a degree of complexity the team may not have come across elsewhere. It is way more than “Software-as-a-Service”, and the pace the AccountsIQ team worked at to get it up and running was superb,” adds Mikie.
I am excited to see how the Partnership will develop with a timetable for future development, which we have been involved in at every stage. The whole team are encouraged at how their feedback is taken on board in this development roadmap and the expenses app, as well as the banking integration technology. These are just two of the releases that we are working with AccountsIQ on,” explains Mikie.
AccountsIQ’s COO Darren Cran adds, “We are delighted to have helped with this digital finance transformation project at The Irish Times, and adding enhancements requested by Mikie and his team, which will benefit our whole user base. A key factor in the success was the Finance team’s willingness to adopt the way AccountsIQ solves key finance pain points. It’s always refreshing for our customer success team when customers have this growth mindset.”
Darren adds, “Remote working has been a key shift of the last 12 months and AccountsIQ, being cloud-based, has enabled this transition for finance teams. Work/life balance is now foremost in everyone’s minds and cloud technology has made it straightforward for organisations to offer this flexibility. Most of our customers are experiencing an increase in focus and productivity as a result.”