Keeping accurate records has always been vital to success in business. Records help to organize and manage finances, track patterns over time, and can forecast a company’s financial future. Good records can also serve as an ally during an investigation, backing up claims with solid proof. But if record-keeping is so important, why are some folks still struggling to create and maintain accurate records?
Surprisingly, it’s not just new business owners or fledgling CFOs who sometimes stumble when it comes to keeping accurate records: seasoned executives occasionally run into trouble, too. Perhaps no recent example is more apt than that of Walgreens, whose billion-dollar forecasting error led to company-wide disruption, loss of revenue, and crumbling investor trust. A combination of poor communication and incomplete record-keeping could happen to anyone – but it doesn't have to.
Here are a few things that will help keep your records in tip-top shape:
Check. Balance. Succeed.
Almost every company has records of some kind – but simply having them doesn’t make them useful. Records must be accurate, organized, and securely stored. Having a system for accessing and using the information they contain is crucial for avoiding leaks or misuse of sensitive documents. Take the time to create and maintain a solid protocol for accessing information to ensure that your records – and your investors – stay right where they need to.
Just because records need to be secure doesn’t mean they should be hidden away, never to be spoken of again. On the contrary, having an open line of communication around company records can be a good thing. Make sure you have protocols in place for verifying the accuracy of data. Have the right people weighed in? Create an audit trail that shows who has contributed, and who has double-checked to ensure that the numbers are correct and complete. Data tells a story – and the perspectives of more than one expert can contribute to its accuracy and reach.
Get help from the CFO
Comprehensive records, and the communication around them, can help CFOs perform one of the most important functions of their position: telling the story of their organization to investors. If data is one-sided and incomplete, worthwhile investors may shy away. On the flip side, CFOs know that good records enable them to attract partners and allies that can help your organization succeed.
Your CFO can be your best ally in helping you implement workflow and processes that will ensure that you end up with good records. Because CFOs work with nearly every department within an organization, they have a complete picture of what types of data are needed, and who should be involved in gathering it. Their insight into where the business is today and where it’s headed tomorrow is invaluable in setting up sustainable processes.
Prevention is the best medicine
By taking a proactive position to put systems in place before problems occur, you can protect your company, along with its employees and investors. Starting from the top down, organizations that actively seek to involve key players in the retention and security of their records have a better chance for success than those that don’t.
Accurate records can help your business achieve its goals, both immediately and in the future. Short-term gains include investor interest, protection against false claims, and more. In the long term, they improve reputation, map trends, and provide stability. As many companies are finding out, records are more than just a pile of receipts, or a boring spreadsheet: They’re an integral part of a thriving, successful organization.