The sleepy desert Town of Pecos City, Texas’s finance staff, experienced three years of lagging audit cycles. The city’s rocketing population growth, the influx of new industries, and a high staff turnover resulted in new hires not knowing precisely what to do, so they resorted to manual processes. Over the years, the staff had battled their ERP software and were losing in their efforts to implement it correctly. Morale was low.
The relatively new City Manager, Seth Sorensen, entered the scene in 2017 and found that some members of his finance staff had deep government background but were not trained in accounting. The previously mentioned population growth was not massive in literal numbers but was proportionally significant to Pecos. Still, the volume of transactions increased with more businesses coming to town, all of which created a bucking bronco experience for the tiny Pecos finance staff. Seth knew he had to do something.
When the backlog of debits and credits started to pile up, frustrated staff left, and well-meaning new hires tried to catch up. Sometimes they used their own “methods” or continued with hand-me-down accounting from the last person. Unfortunately, there were not enough standard procedures in place to fall back upon, and compound errors made matters worse by the day. In a hurry to catch up with the backlog of manual data entry and corrections, the time for training was a luxury no one could afford. One example was assets that had not been appropriately tracked over the years, so that the city was still paying insurance on items no one had seen since the eighties!
HEY, LET’S CHANGE THE ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE was a great idea at first blush, but the switch to new software made matters even worse because it would later be determined that few employees fully understood the accounting software they had in the first place.
In retrospect, Seth saw the change had been a mistake, but it was worsened by the software vendor who made promises they did not keep. To make matters worse, the city’s finance director left. With an affirmation of his upbeat nature, Seth said, “It ended being a good learning experience, even though it was painful at times.”
Thank goodness for Seth. His background as an engineer gave him the insight to see what wasn’t working with the current systems and that it was time to seek outside help.
At this point (timing is everything), Seth brought in Gray CPA Consulting (now LSL CPAs). Their team corralled the out-of-control bronco by analyzing the situation and coaching Pecos’s staff on the appropriate accounting and software methodologies. The goal was to get the most from their software and automate their accounting processes, reducing time and increasing accuracy. Gail Gray and Matt Freitas of LSL CPAs worked with Seth’s staff to understand their needs and ensure they were all properly trained. They met with the Pecos team in person while LSL’s steadfast employees Ruan Strydom and Jordan Smith worked tirelessly to support Pecos’s project behind the curtain (their home offices) to make the magic happen.
Gail and Matt brought training, and they created a system of internal controls that brought calm to the noisy disorganization. Matt churned out 12 months of pooled cash account bank recs in half the time Pecos’s previous consultant processed each month. Gail and her team performed a detailed account analysis and provided adjustments to bring numerous accounts into proper balance. By setting an example of speed, efficiency, and accuracy coupled with an openness to discuss and resolve issues, LSL CPAs gave the finance staff the boost needed to handle its tasks in a timely, accurate fashion.
Gail served as the intermediary and advocate on the software implementation side when the vendor came back on the scene. She knew enough to call their bluff when they were “backpedaling” and would not let them get by with anything. As part of what saved Pecos, Gail served as interim finance director while a replacement was being sought.
Seth said of LSL CPAs, “They have saved us in many, many ways.”
Gail and the LSL team capitalized on Seth’s strengths because while he was not an accountant by trade—and was new at being a city manager—his engineering mind picked up on the stability offered by the systems they were establishing. Simultaneously, his positive attitude, a robust engineer’s belief in structure, and unfailing leadership of his loyal team all worked well with LSL’s suggestions. It was a group win, made
possible through a combination of training, running interference between the staff and the software vendors, support from LSL CPA’s “behind the curtain” support team, and encouraging the Pecos staff members to use an automation mentality and their newfound knowledge in governmental accounting.
In Seth Sorensen’s letter to LSL CPAs, he said of Gail and her team,
“They helped by… providing knowledgeable resources that helped us get caught up on our accounting.”
By untangling several sizable accounts, LSL CPAs was able to show that $130,000 had not been collected from various sources. It was cause for celebration and more than paid for the services of LSL.
The Pecos staff, in turn, gained the confidence to make better decisions and do better work. They had toiled very hard to get to this point. They saw improvement because now their finance processes were systematic, automatic, efficient, and accurate. They could work smarter.
- Morale in the finance department is much higher.
- The city had one of the cleanest audits with the most accurate fund balances in decades.
- The staff members will use standard procedures LSL helped put in place.
- The Pecos employees are confident in moving to higher versions of their software.
- The team members work smarter, communicate well, and make better decisions.
- LSL established a good working relationship with the software providers to better accomplish implementation tasks and get support
Seth A. Sorenson, City Manager, says,
“ … I wholeheartedly recommend this firm and their expertise to all parties who are interested in receiving high-quality professional service. Thanks to LSL, CPAs, and Gail Gray, the City of Pecos is now moving in the right accounting and financial direction.”