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How a Difficulty Turned Into an Opportunity

How a Difficulty Turned Into an Opportunity
Image credit: Courtesy of skystem.com
By Moeez

The story began when a multi-billion-dollar corporation was trying, without success, to close and reconcile their books for the year. This company was a publicly-traded global financial services company, and they were running out of steam and time.

Though they employed a state-of-the-art accounting software, it was not enough to prevent a failed audit by the regulators. Its ERP, like most, did not have automation beyond transactional processing and consolidations. So, month-end close and reconciliation activities were primarily completed manually. Because of resource constraints, balance sheet accounts were discovered to not have been reconciled for months, even years. New accounts were not being identified and controls around the month-end close were barebones at best. Apart for key accounts like cash or trading accounts, others had not been validated or analyzed on a regular basis. There was no true accountability for thousands of balance sheet accounts, and with more business growth, that problem just got bigger. Using the traditional spreadsheet, checklist and manual methods, it became near impossible for the organization to catch up on reconciliations and execute internal controls over financial reporting in a sustainable manner.

The Story of SkyStem

The founder of SkyStem is Shagun Malhotra, CPA, CIA. She was educated in the United States and Switzerland and had briefly contemplated pursuing a career in fashion. Shagun started her career in the travel and hospitality industry, and ultimately fell in love with the world of audit, controls, and the accounting process. She was asked by the troubled financial services giant to lead the year-long remediation effort, upon which she successfully delivered a clean audit the next year.

Because of this, Shagun knew firsthand the multitude of problems and risks accountants face when employing manual methods to close the books and complete reconciliations. Whether it’s a large corporation or a small company, closing and reconciling is part of the routine function in the accounting department. Although not the most glamorous part of accounting, it is the last line of defense to identify errors and/or fraud and hence a critical organizational process. She also realized that existing platforms that have automation in this area are priced quite high, and often beyond reach for mid-sized companies. Mid-sized companies are often operational complex, and can benefit from automation during the close, but lacked the excess capacity and resources to make a large investment and undergo a multi-month implementation. This realization became the spark that compelled her to found SkyStem, a SaaS provider that aimed to create an affordably priced solution to help automate month-end close and reconciliations.

SkyStem’s flagship solution, ART, was brought to the market shortly after. ART’s main purpose is to modernize the month-end close and reconciliation process through automation. It was designed to meet four criteria: robust in features, easy to use, fast to implement and reasonably priced. SkyStem’s core belief is that software should be robust, but never break the bank or cause unnecessary business disruption.

Old Fashioned Customer Service

As a reflection of its Founder’s background in the hospitality industry, SkyStem emphasizes a customer-centric philosophy. Prompt, responsive and knowledge-based support is paramount at SkyStem. Unlike many solution providers today, SkyStem still offer unlimited phone and email customer support to every single customer, free of charge. While the more modern methods of self-help portals and online courses are also available, SkyStem welcomes and encourages the one-on-one service experience that is sorely lacking in the business world today.

Similarly, SkyStem is distinctive in its product development approach. User feedback plays an important role in identifying future enhancements, and more than 20% of all new features in ART are directly attributed to customer suggestion.

“Our secret sauce is our customers. We are unique in the industry in that we actively solicit user feedback and we build upon that feedback in developing new features and functionality. We cater primarily to all industries and focus on the mid-market. By having a strong feedback loop with these folks, we ensure that ART always feels custom made just for them. In fact, auditors and regulators of our customers are one of our most vocal champions that are enjoying using ART at their client sites. ART provides transparency into the month-end close and reconciliation process, which they love, and at the same time it doesn't take up valuable time for the accountant. So that's a win-win.” -- SkyStem Founder, Shagun Malhotra

Read more about SkyStem to find out more.

Awards & Accolades

SkyStem is proud to be the winner of several awards. Here are just a few of them:

  • Winner of the Gold Globe Award for Best Female Entrepreneur/Founder of the Year
  • Capterra, the world’s leading digital software marketplace, has awarded SkyStem ART its 2018 Best Value for Money badge!
  • SkyStem is the Gold distinction winner in three categories of the 2017 Annual Women World Awards
  • SkyStem is proud to announce that their customer service team leader, Jennifer Stein, is the Silver Globe Award winner for Best Customer Service Team of the Year.
  • SiliconIndia, a leading technology magazine, has included SkyStem in its annual list of “Top 100 Tech Companies Founded and Managed by Indians in the U.S.”
  • CIOReview honored SkyStem in placing in the “Top 20 Workflow Technology Solution Providers.”

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