Accounting for Custom Manufacturing
Accounting and bookkeeping is a part of every business large and small, yet there are myriad details to work with and a multitude of possible approaches to addressing the requirement. From a summary perspective, there are standards which are fairly easily met, providing the basics of sales and expense tracking and income reporting sufficient for basic tax and compliance work to be performed. Yet accounting may go much deeper into the operational processes of the business, delving into the details of productivity and profitability in order to find and expose areas where the business might improve both.
Manufacturing, particularly custom manufacturing or ETO (engineering to order) is among those industry types that could benefit tremendously from a more intimate and detailed approach to accounting. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to find experienced professionals with not simply a competence in working with manufacturing industry sector clients, but specifically with ETO process. Building to order is one thing, but finding the way to improve efficiency and profitability when every job is a custom encounter takes additional skills and a lot of data. Accounting professionals with these skills are needed to help these custom manufacturers grow, transform their businesses and make the overall operations more efficient and sustainable.
It seems logical that manufacturing and ETO space businesses are ripe for the same bridging of technology and analysis that the accounting industry started broadly approaching some years back. With bookkeeping processes being more frequently outsourced to non-accountants, the accounting professionals saw increased pressure to find more efficient ways of doing things and had to find new value to deliver to clients. Technology, data collection and analysis became the foundations for delivering on that new requirement. With the established model and philosophy, bringing more operational aspects of client systems into the mix and extending the model end-to-end just makes sense.
It takes a combination of systems – from the core accounting solution to the manufacturing control or other operational systems, through to the analytical tools. Leveraging hosting technologies and cloud service, businesses are finally able to bring the multiple work locations – shops, warehouses and business offices – together in a single software and technology platform, and collect the level of detail necessary to provide a comprehensive and true picture of the business. The analytical tools then provide the means to explore the details and identify where improvements might be made or where previously unrecognized risk exists.
QuickBooks desktop editions remain among the most popular financial systems used by manufacturing and job shop applications, largely due to the effectiveness of connecting the operational applications to an accounting solution which proves highly workable and which has strong industry support. Even with the emergence of QuickBooks Online (and the push by Intuit to get customers to adopt this web-based alternative to desktop-based software) the QuickBooks desktop edition products continue to provide more functionality and application support for these working models, as the ability to fully manage the information in the solution exists more in the disk based products than it does in a multitenant web-based application. Accounting “mechanics” are able to see, access and work with all the data rather than simply view reports where only half of the transaction is visible – making detailed accounting and data analysis more readily available.
The key is to leverage the accounting professional, the right software tools, and the platform and delivery environment that allows it all to work in concert for the entire organization. Add the QuickBooks hosting service provider, who turns hosted applications and QuickBooks desktop products into anytime/anywhere SaaS-type service, so the participants can work more closely together. Enabling the accounting professional and bringing them closer to their clients (and client systems) allows the deeper move into operational issues, creating the basis for both to receive new and more value from the relationship.